Featured News 2018 Destination Weddings: Making Sure Your “I Do” Is Legal

Destination Weddings: Making Sure Your “I Do” Is Legal

Every bride dreams of her perfect wedding.

Whether that's a tropical summer wedding in an exotic location or a winter wonderland in the Swiss Alps, many brides will tell you that their dream ceremony involves flying to a new and exciting place. Most often, destination ceremonies take place in tropical locations, like Tahiti or the Caribbean. Other times, a couple desires a European wedding, a wedding in their country of origin—or even just a wedding in a different state. Wherever it is, "novelty" is the chief selling point of a destination wedding.

According to The Knot, destination weddings have risen 20 percent since 2008. Now, 1 out of every 4 brides chooses to have their wedding abroad. While these destination celebrations may sound like a dream come true, there are a few things you must consider before committing to one.

What to Consider Before Planning a Destination Wedding

In order to obtain a foreign marriage license, you will need a valid U.S. passport and birth certificate. If you were married previously, certain countries will require that you present divorce or death certificates. Certain destinations may even request blood and medical tests. You may need all of these documents to be authenticated by the United States consulate.

This can be expensive and time consuming, so it is imperative that you take care of these issues long before your wedding date.

In some cases, one of the parties must be a resident of the country in order to legalize the marriage. In France, one party must have resided in the country for an extended amount of time in order to be married there. In many situations, local laws necessitate a long waiting period in order to legalize marriage in another country, so it is essential that you consult the country's embassy or consulate before you book a venue.

Even if you are approved by the foreign country, you must confirm that the wedding will be recognized within the United States. Some states won't legitimize documents that were officiated abroad, which can create serious complications for newlyweds. It is imperative to check with your state attorney general before you decide on the location for your wedding. Consulates representing the USA and your country of choice can also help you sort through any legal issues.

Finding an Officiant in a Foreign Country

According to the United States Bureau of Consular Affairs, American diplomatic and consular officers cannot perform a marriage in a different country. If you are looking for someone to officiate your ceremony, you will most likely need to locate a religious or government official in the country you are visiting. If you are married using a foreign marriage document, the US Consulate can normally authenticate it so that it is legal in the United States for $32.00.

If you under the age of 18, regardless of the laws of the country you are wed in, you will need your parent's permission to authenticate your marriage in America. Normally, this can be a written statement of consent executed by parents before a notary. This document must also be authenticated by a consular official of the country you are getting married in. The US has foreign consulates in numerous major cities, and these people will authenticate the document for you—often for a small fee. Some countries will also require that the U.S. Marriage document is translated into their language before the ceremony.

If you are considering a destination wedding, or were married in a foreign country and are worried about the legitimacy of your marriage, then you should contact a family law attorney to discuss your case.

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