Getting Married in Another Country: Everything You Need to Know

The ins and outs of getting married in another country.

By Deanna deBara

Getting Married in Another Country: Everything You Need to Know
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

There are an infinite number of places to say your “I do’s.” There are as many wedding venues and destinations as there are ideas about what a “perfect wedding” looks like. For many couples, the perfect wedding involves getting on a plane and traveling to another country.

Destination weddings can be an adventurous way to celebrate your marriage. However, if you’re planning on getting married in another country, there are things you need to know to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly (and legally).

So, what exactly do you need to know about tying the knot in a foreign country—and what do you need to prepare before your international nuptials? Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of getting married in another country:

Choose a Country

“Getting married in another country” is a broad term. Getting married in Italy is going to be a completely different process from getting married in Mexico, Greece, Canada, or Portugal. So, if you’re thinking about getting married in another country, the very first step in the process is choosing which country you want to get married in.

Narrowing down the country where you want to host your wedding will help guide the rest of the process—and will make sure that the information you gather is accurate.

Do Your Research About the Country’s Marriage Requirements

Once you’ve figured out the country you want to get married in, the next step of the process is to research what, exactly, is required to get married in that country.

Marriage requirements vary widely from country to country, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to research the requirements of the country where you’re hosting your wedding—and to fulfill those requirements before your big day.

As mentioned, the marriage requirements will depend on the country, but some requirements you may need to fulfill include:

  • Completing blood work and/or medical tests
  • Proof of identity (for example, a birth certificate and/or copy of your passport)
  • Age requirements (and, if couples don’t meet the age requirements, proof of parental consent)
  • Residency requirements
  • Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry (this document doesn’t exist in the United States, but, if necessary, Americans marrying abroad can typically secure an Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry at a US embassy or consulate in the country where they’re getting married)

Researching the requirements to get married in your country of choice—and researching those requirements well before your actual wedding day—will ensure that you know everything that you need to do to prepare for your destination wedding and have plenty of time to make those preparations.

Do Any Necessary Research for Your Actual Wedding

When you’re getting married in another country, you’ll want to do your research to ensure that you’re prepared with everything you need to easily (and legally!) wed your soon-to-be-spouse.

But the research doesn’t end there! Once you’ve figured out how to legally get married in another country, you need to also figure out wedding planning—and how to host a wedding in another country.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to research wedding venues, wedding caterers, wedding florists, and any other vendors that you’ll need to work with. (If you’re getting married in a country where you don’t speak the language, you may want to consider hiring a wedding coordinator to manage all the details for you.)

If you’re planning a destination wedding with guests, you’ll also want to research any travel information that your wedding attendees will need to know to make the trip. This can include local lodging, popular things to do in the area, and any medical tests or vaccinations that your guests will need to get before they travel.

If You Get Married Abroad, Is It Legally Recognized in the US?

Destination weddings are fun and exciting, but when you get married in another country, you need to ensure that your marriage will be recognized in the country that you actually live in.

So, the question is, is that the case in the United States? Or, in other words, when you get married in another country, is that marriage legally recognized in the US?

In most cases, as long as you were legally married in the country where you held your wedding—and had a valid marriage license—that marriage will also be legally recognized in the United States.

But, there are certainly circumstances where that is not the case, so don’t assume that your international wedding is legally binding in the US. The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends reaching out to your state’s attorney general’s office to get clarification on whether your international marriage will be recognized in the US—and if there’s anything you need to do on your end (for example, provide proof of marriage) in order to gain that recognition. According to their website, “If you get married abroad and need to know if your marriage will be recognized in the United States and what documentation may be needed, contact the Office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States.”

When in Doubt, Reach Out

If you have any questions or concerns about getting married in another country, get in touch with either your embassy or the country’s tourism bureau. Generally, they’ll have more information about exactly what you need to say your “I do’s” in that country—and how to ensure that those “I do’s” are legal.

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