photo by giuseppe messira
As a destination wedding planning specialist, we are often asked about destination weddings and if a couple should have a symbolic or legal wedding, or how it works to get married in another country. Destination weddings are huge, with couples deciding to travel to far away location to say "I Do", and it's important to know exactly what your options are so that you can make the best decision for yourself.
Destination Weddings are More Popular Than Ever
photo by jonathan borba
In the past couple of years, destination weddings have experienced a splurge and popularity. So much so that the trend is making its way across to those who would otherwise not have considered it.
If you're planning to get married in a different country, you will probably be faced with the decision between a legal and a symbolic wedding and may be wondering, "what the heck is a symbolic wedding?" or, "is in symbolic wedding legal?" or "what's the difference between a symbolic ceremony and a civil ceremony?"
This article is going to give you the deets on both a legal (civil) destination wedding ceremony and a symbolic destination wedding ceremony so that you can decide which is best for you.
What is Required For a Legal Ceremony Away?
photo by katarina dragojevic
Documents You May Need
Just like you would experience in the state, there will be documents and proof of identity required, along with any licensing fees. Some countries require notarized copies of your passport, divorce decree, or legal name change. Others would require translation of the document into their language.
Ceremony Officiated in Language of that Country
Additionally, when doing a legal ceremony in a country where English is not their native language, there is no guarantee that your wedding will be officiated in English. In this case a translator (using the on site wedding planner) will translate what the officiant is saying.
Then there will be government fees involved, and possibly a blood test done on-site.
Some countries will require witnesses (who are not related to you) to arrive with you on the same day.
Beyond that, most countries will also require a residency. For example, a requirement may be a 4-day residency and only business days (Monday-Friday) count toward your residency. Others may have a requirements of 48 hours and you can arrive any day of the week.
A Legal Ceremony is Nothing to Worry About.
Don't let this scare you! Some countries are super easy to get legally married in. It all varies, so I generally advise my clients to do what is best for them based on the country they decide to get married in.
I also suggest being flexible. You may be going into planning a legal destination wedding abroad assuming that you'll be able to make it legally binding in the destination. Don't let this pigeonhole you into only a handful of options.
Benefits of a legal/civil marriage.
A Symbolic Ceremony
Second, let's discuss the mystery of the symbolic wedding and what you need to know. Essentially, a symbolic wedding looks and sounds just like a civil wedding, it just isn't legally binding, It is like a commitment ceremony or a renewal of vows.
Avoiding Extra Hoops to Jump Through.
The purpose of choosing a symbolic destination wedding would be to avoid the legal requirements to get married in another country. Maybe due to the hassle, or possibly due to the cost.
Can Ensure Everyone Can Celebrate
Sometimes, couples will have certain family members who won't be able to travel with them, so they choose to get married in the States before heading to their destination so that those family members can be part of the union.
You will Need Proof You Are Married
No matter your reason, with a symbolic destination wedding you will want to ge married before heading to the destination because the country you are heading to will want a copy of your marriage records. To them, your ceremony is like a vow renewal, and theyd want to ensure you are legally marred before officiating your ceremony. Make sense?
Benefits of a symbolic wedding ceremony.
Ultimately, your destination wedding should be about two things only: You and your Partner! It doesn't matter how you decide to get married; what maters is that it is done in a way that makes you both comfortable. The ceremony itself can have any format you like - legal or symbolic - so long as it has special meaning for you. After all, a wedding isn't all about the paperwork.
If you are in the midst of planning your destination wedding and feel like you're stuck and not getting very far, I encourage you to click the link below to schedule a free 30-minute strategy session with me. I would be honored to help you figure out everything you need for an amazing destination wedding (Legal or Symbolic)
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