We have all seen those romantic photos of couples on beaches in their bare feet and wandering into the sunset in a foreign country. Getting married overseas with sandy beaches and a warm climate is an increasingly popular choice amongst couples living in the UK. From a wedding in Portugal to a beach ceremony with exotic cocktails and dancing in Hawaii, there will be thousands of couples and their family flying out to other countries next year to get married. And, in fact, choosing to get married abroad is actually cheaper than having it here in the UK even after paying for everything, including the flights. But, there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to getting married abroad, of which we are now going to run through.
The Legal Requirements
The legalities for getting married abroad can vary from country to country. Some countries have requirements when it comes to residency, as well as rules about certain types of ceremonies and who carries them out. So, it’s very important to check the necessities with your country of choice’s embassy so you can be absolutely clear on the legal requirements. For example, in France, you need to have a civil marriage before a religious ceremony can take place. In fact, to even get to that point, one of you will need to have lived in France for at least 40 days prior to the wedding date to comply with their residency requirements. One way that some couples get around this is by getting married in the UK first and then have their symbolic ceremony overseas at a later date.
In most cases, you will be required to submit official documentation in order for your wedding to legally go ahead in another country. This tends to mean sending birth certificates, divorce paperwork (if previously married) and a Certificate of No Impediment (a document that outlines that you are free to get married again). Again it is always best to contact the country’s embassy that you want to get married in. It’s also very important to check if any of the documents required legalising or translating.
Similarly, you might need to check with the concerned authority to know about the documents required, in case you opt for a name change after the marriage. This is important because different nations may have different legal requirements. For instance, a country like Canada requires documents such as a Canadian passport, Health card, and Voter Registration, to name a few (detailed information can be found on websites similar The Namesake Box). Another nation may have a completely different set of requirements. This is why it could be essential before deciding to settle in a particular place.
Besides, once you have got married abroad (and if possible), you should try to obtain several copies of the local marriage certificate as you may need these in future and can sometimes be difficult to obtain once your back in the UK.
Will Your Marriage Be Legally Valid in The UK
If you follow the legal requirements for a valid marriage in a foreign country, then your marriage will be considered valid in the UK. However, this is so long as you had capacity to get married in the UK at the time of your overseas wedding. A foreign wedding does not need to be, nor can it be registered in the UK.
Be Careful of Prenuptial Agreements
If you are getting married overseas, then you need to be extremely careful that you don’t mistakenly enter into a prenuptial agreement. There are some countries that have a tick box on their marriage application form that enter couples into statutory matrimonial property regimes. Under international conventions, this can actually be recognised as a maintenance agreement which can negatively affect your ability to make any future claims. If you do choose to enter a prenuptial agreement (although the thought isn’t really romantic at the time of getting married), it can be valuable should your marriage break down in the future.
Without ending this article on a negative note, but you must keep in mind that not all relationships last forever. There is a misconception that where you get married impacts where you able to get divorced if your marriage breaks down. In fact, it’s the country that you live or where you domiciled in when your marriage breaks down that is relevant when filing for a divorce, so if you got married in Arizona, you may need to follow the arizona divorce process to get divorced. Subject to the comments above about unintended prenuptial agreements, choosing to marry overseas will therefore not affect your future legal rights should you go through a divorce in the future.
Ultimately, getting married is a big decision. Getting married abroad is an even bigger decision, and it’ll give you a lot more to think about. It’s important to run through everything carefully to ensure you’ve not missed anything, and do plenty of research to ensure all the legal paperwork is filled out correctly. Look online for more resources and get plenty of help from friends and family, but most importantly, try to enjoy it all!