Weddings abroad – our real brides’ guide to marrying overseas

If you’re dreaming of sun, sea and sand for your big day then who better to inspire you than the brides who’ve already made that dream come true? Many of our real brides have celebrated with sensational weddings abroad, so we’ve hand picked a selection to help you make your beach getaway a reality. Alongside top tips from our real brides’ stories we’ve also included some handy links and important information to consider if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and going overseas for your special day. Enjoy!

Our real brides’ top tips for marrying abroad…

“I would highly recommend going away to do it. I loved every minute of it, it was such a stress-free day. Not only did we have the best wedding but also the most amazing honeymoon thrown into one.” Natasha McMahon

“Getting married abroad definitely allowed us to enjoy the entire day and not stress about a thing.” Kelly Caswell

“I wouldn’t change a thing, I just wish it hadn’t gone so fast! We had a late afternoon wedding as it’s so hot in Cyprus they don’t really do it much earlier. Just enjoy the day and take a moment to step back with your new husband and take it all in!” Kate Tully

weddings abroad

Zoe Silva

“Make sure you research your photographers and suppliers well. Don’t stress on the day! Before you walk down the aisle, turn to the person walking you down and take a deep breath. My Dad made me do this and it helped bring me back down to earth just for those few seconds. Most importantly, have fun – the day will fly by!” Zoe Silva (Read more about Zoe’s special day here)

Where should I choose for my wedding abroad?

When we asked our brides-to-be about their wedding themes* 10% said they were going away for their wedding and choosing a destination abroad. But, when the world really is your oyster, where do you go? Here are a few of our brides’ favourites to inspire you, from Santorini all the way to the tropical Caribbean…

Gorgeous celebrations in Greece

Choose somewhere with breathtaking views and a destination wedding can be simply stunning. Real bride Amy met her husband-to-be in Greece so it was the perfect setting for their celebrations.

weddings abroad - Santorini

Amy and Charlie

Coastal chic

Being by the sea is often the most important consideration when couples are looking for an overseas wedding venue. Make sure you research your venue and look for recent pictures. The first time you visit may only be a couple of days before your ceremony! Real bride Anna was so happy that their venue lived up to expectations:

“The first time we saw it in the flesh was one week before the wedding. We were so happy and positively surprised, it looked even more amazing than in the pictures.” Anna

Anna and Christopher

Caribbean getaway

Getting to celebrate with close family and friends can feel extra special when you’re marrying abroad.  Lauren and Stuart felt so lucky to have 35 family and friends share in their beautiful Caribbean getaway.

“When we first saw our venue with all of our family and friends we were completely overwhelmed. We knew we had made the right decision.” Lauren

weddings abroad

Lauren and Stuart

Stunning Santorini weddings

Small and intimate weddings abroad can be highly emotional, as Lisa and Ashleigh found when they celebrated in glorious Santorini.

“We were marrying in the glorious sunshine, 2,574 miles from home, with the people we love most in the world beside us.” Lisa

weddings abroad

Lisa and Ashleigh

Check the legal requirements for weddings abroad..

Firstly, in most destinations you will need to stay a few nights before you can legally marry. However, the legal requirements vary so check first – some destinations require more than three working days. Therefore you must be there for the minimum residency period before you can marry.

For information and advice go to www.gov.uk/marriage-abroad. Its handy tool includes a few short questions with contact information for the relevant embassy that you’ll need to get in touch with.

It’s worth checking with your tour operator, the tourist board and the UK embassy of the country you want to marry in to make sure there haven’t been any recent changes to the rules.

What documents do you need for weddings abroad?

Both the bride and groom will need to have these documents for any destination. Don’t forget to double-check your expiry dates too.

  • A full 10-year valid passport with more than six months remaining before expiry
  • Full birth certificates
  • If divorced, the decree absolute
  • If widowed, the marriage and death certificates of the ­deceased spouse
  • Deed poll proof of any name change
  • Adoption certificate if relevant

Most destinations will require original documents or certified copies but check whether photocopies are also necessary.

Other common documents…

  • A Certificate of No Impediment:

    You may need a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) or an affidavit to prove you’re allowed to marry. Popular destinations like Aruba, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Lapland, Malta and Turkey all require this certificate.
    The bride and groom need one each and they can be obtained from your local registry office. They usually take around a month to issue and cost about £30. They are generally regarded as being valid for six months from the date of issue.

    As well as the certificate, often you’ll need to live in the country where you’re planning to marry for three days and then post notice at the British embassy in that country for seven days. The embassy will issue your CNI if nobody has registered an objection in that time.

  • Single Status Statutory Declaration: 

    Each person who has not previously been married may need one of these. It must be stamped and certified by a solicitor no more than three months before the return date of travel. One of these is required in destinations such as Antigua, the Bahamas, Cyprus, the ­Dominican Republic, Lapland, Kenya, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka.

  • An affirmation/affidavit of marital status: 

    Finally, in some countries, you’ll need to swear an affirmation or affidavit stating that you’re free to marry. You’ll usually need to do this in front of a consular officer at the local British embassy or a local notary public. There is no residency or notice period, but you should check with the British embassy or consulate in the country you want to marry in if you need to make an appointment.

Don’t be discouraged by the paperwork, the International Passenger Survey data showed that over 46,000 UK residents and nationals travelled abroad in 2016 to get married. 

The data also shows that Italy is a top destination for many couples. More than 6,000 UK brides headed there in 2016 to get married, compared with only 874 in 2006!

And finally, dream dresses for weddings abroad…

It’s important to take time out from the serious stuff when you’re planning your destination wedding. So we’ve put together some of our favourite beach wedding dresses here to inspire you. Each one will keep you cool, calm and looking sensational on the big day. And remember, weddings abroad are a special celebration and dream holiday all rolled into one. It’s a once in lifetime opportunity so just have fun!
* Statistics based on brides’ answers from competition entries between July and October 2017