The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – The Pros and Cons of Getting Married Abroad

With 21% of Americans choosing to marry abroad in 2015, the destination wedding is becoming more attractive in the face of the increasing cost of domestic weddings. Apart from the financial benefits, couples may also envisage the beautiful wedding photos, perfect weather and gorgeous surroundings of the destination wedding. But, there are also sacrifices to be considered if choosing to tie the knot abroad.

Practicalities

First thing’s first – there is little point in organizing a marriage abroad if the legitimacy of the marriage may be questioned once back home. Marriage abroad, even in a Catholic church, is likely to be more complicated than getting married in your local church. Couples would be well advised to consult their state attorney-general to explore their options in terms of getting married abroad before the planning process has gone too far, and when selecting a church to get married in, it would be wise to check if they have experience in marrying citizens from abroad. The soon-to-be happy couple should also check the travel documentation required by their preferred country and any documentation or pre-marriage checks that may be insisted upon; although the church may be able to offer some advice on this it is always wise to follow up with the local authorities. On top of the legalities a bride needs to consider how much involvement she is willing to give up; if organizing a local wedding the suppliers and church can all be within easy reach during the planning process; not so with the wedding abroad.

Theme

When most couples choose how to theme a wedding, the question of location is usually tied firmly into this; barn-style receptions tend towards natural themes with use of wood and twine in their decorations, coastal receptions may have a nautical theme featuring driftwood and seashells. The church will usually allow for some of the theme to be incorporated in the form of colour choices for floral arrangements. Many brides spend hundreds of hours putting together a theme for their wedding appropriate to the location and enjoy doing so but this may not be so easy when getting married abroad. For the crafty bride, transporting beautiful but fragile hand-made decorations and wedding stationery for the reception is not practical, so if they choose to get married abroad they may have to choose to be ‘hands off’ in this area and order decorations and table stationery from a supplier abroad. Likewise, the hairdresser, catering team and entertainment may not fall into step with the precise and uniquely themed wedding as it will not be as easy to involve them all fully in the planning process.

Who?

The most difficult consideration for many couples choosing to marry abroad is their guests. Some couples take the opportunity to marry abroad to avoid family politics and only invite a select close few, but if there is a larger guest list it is inevitable that some will not be able to attend. Attending a wedding abroad is more time consuming, incurs a larger travel spend and no matter how close to the couple, some guests may find these factors prohibitive. The other consideration is who will carry out the service? Some would not even consider getting married abroad as they have had visions of themselves getting married in their family church with a familiar face officiating, whereas abroad they are unlikely to have met the priest carrying out the service. Once contact is made with the officiating church, couples have found the priest usually very accommodating, but for some who have grown up in the same local church community, the thought of not having their family priest officiate can become a real barrier to marrying abroad.

Choosing to get married abroad is a huge decision with many considerations, but it can be the right choice for the right couple. If they are willing to accept an unfamiliar priest, be relaxed about theming and contact, and can prepare themselves to encounter a few surprises on the day, then the decision might pay off. For the couple who have a larger guest list however or have a close relationship with their local priest it may be more prudent to choose a home wedding and avoid the emotional heartache of missing friends and family on their big day.

Article provided by: Jackie Edwards, Freelance Contributor

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