Waking up to a grey sky on your wedding day can be disheartening – of course, it won’t affect the magic of the day itself, but it can still be frustrating. Aside from guests not showing up, messing up the vows, and forgetting the wedding rings, bad weather is one of the top wedding fears. That could be why more couples than ever before are choosing to tie the knot in a foreign country.
If you already have a dream destination in mind, you might want to take some time to read up on the laws of the country before you make your decision. Here are some rules and regulations surrounding getting married in some of the most popular wedding destinations in the world.
Couples all over the world flock to the Italian countryside every year for their dream destination wedding. The beautiful scenery and guaranteed sunshine make for a magical and picturesque ceremony. The Amalfi Coast, Umbria and Venice are all popular choices for couples looking to add a quintessentially Italian charm to their special day.
In Italy, you can hold a legally recognized religious or civil ceremony, and humanist or symbolic weddings are also allowed. Although Catholicism is the dominant religion in Italy, weddings of all faiths are acknowledged. In non-Catholic cases, a civil ceremony must be an element of the marriage ceremony in order to confirm legality. There are no residency requirements in Italy, but as per the required documentation is mandatory — the Affidavit is a standard requirement, stating that there is no legal impediment of your marriage in your home country. If your partner happens to be an Italian citizen, then you also won’t need to apply for a visa in order to get hitched. An Atto Notorio is required in Italy though, and this will need to be signed by two witnesses.
You’ll need to prepare for the big day by heading down to the town hall to declare your intent to marry at least three weeks before hand. After you have done so, you can officially set the date! Once again, an Apostille stamp will be used to verify your marriage license in law, and you can then relax and enjoy plenty of Italy’s finest produce — wine! In terms of traditions to follow, take heed of the Italian’s belief that Sunday is a day of good fortune, perfect for weddings! Pack a satin pouch and invite guests to exchange money for a dance with the star of the show, and then get everyone up and moving to the ‘tarantella’ a notorious ‘dance of the spider’. Vase breaking is also a part of custom in Italy, as the number of pieces it breaks into are regarded as symbols of many happy years of marriage.
Spain is home to a number of stunning destinations like Palma and the Cadiz countryside. Most British couples will choose to have a civil ceremony at a registrar’s office in the UK, then travel to Spain and have their ceremony. Having all the necessary paperwork is a given, but you might be required to obtain proof that both parties are able to marry provided by your home country’s embassy. It could also be worthwhile to check how long the processing of documentation will take. If you are having a civil ceremony in Spain then there is an application process to account for and some Spanish registrar offices will require that you are in the country for as much as a month prior to your wedding day!
Spain has a few wedding traditions, such as the bride wearing orange blossoms as a symbol of joy and fulfillment. Mantilla’s are also the headpiece of choice, a lace garment to consider adding to your outfit on the big day. Make sure you have enough room in your luggage for wedding favours, as it is customary for the new couple to greet guests after the ceremony with a little something to say thanks. Also, grooms heading off to marry in Spain shouldn’t be too precious with the tie they choose, as Spanish tradition dictates that the tie is a symbol of good luck and should be cut into pieces at the wedding reception, auctioned off to guests in the crowd.
Also, make sure you have plenty of change handy — if you want to follow Spanish custom, then the husband will need to present his new wife with 13 gold coins, representing Jesus and his 12 apostles, but this also acts as a symbol of the promise of the groom to provide for the family.
You can only legally marry in France if it’s in a civil ceremony at the Mairie (or local council office). In France, A religious ceremony can follow this afterward but to get married in France can be difficult if you don’t have a clear connection to the country. The paperwork required for non-French nationals to marry in the country involves applying for a special dispensation, but without a clear connection to the country, this can be difficult to secure. Common requirements are that you or your partner have a link to the area by either living there or having a parent who lives there (since 2013).
You’ll also need to stay in the country for 30 days before you can get married. You can’t avoid paperwork with weddings abroad, and in France you’ll need an Affidavit of Law, stating that you are able to marry and that the union will be recognized at home. At least 10 days before you wed, you’ll need to contact the Mairie and submit a marriage application, where documents will be supplied and stamped with an Apostille stamp. After the application passes, you’ll need to marry no less than 10 days and no more than 1 year after the application has qualified. Remember to apply to the Mairie again to receive your official wedding certificate! Alternatively, some couples choose to legally marry in their home country at a registrar’s office, then hold a religious or symbolic wedding in France at any venue.
You can also request an English-speaking priest for the ceremony so that you don’t get lost in the language barrier. In terms of French custom, the tables turn in France and the groom walks his mother down the aisle before greeting his wife-to-be! There are also no bridesmaids or groomsmen in the French tradition, with only witnesses required. Keep the drinks flowing and opt to have a classic French champagne tower — we’re sure your guests will enjoy this! The French also have a way to help fend off that impending hangover, and the solution is by serving onion soup to your guests later in the night.
Traditional country house weddings will always have their place in the UK – but it’s easy to fulfill your dream of getting married abroad if you fancy something a bit different. Just ensure that you’ve planned in advance — and if you want to feel like a local, then add a unique twist to your big day by following one of the traditions of the area!