Legal requirements to consider when marrying abroad

20 Jan 2017

Before deciding on a destination wedding, carefully consider the legalities involved

Unfortunately, eloping isn’t as simple as getting on a plane and flying off into the sunset with your future spouse. There are some important legal requirements to consider before you can embark on the wedding of your dreams.

Luckily, holiday home specialist The Big Domain has provided its top recommendations on what legalities to consider when getting married abroad.

Marriage laws in different countries

One of the first things to consider after deciding to elope are the marriage laws in the country you want to travel to. Every country has different laws when it comes to tying the knot, some that you might not have even considered.

For example, to get married at your dream destination in France, you are first required to have a civil ceremony in a council office setting in France, while in Italy divorced women are required to wait 300 days after their divorce decree before getting married again.


Make sure you allow yourselves plenty of time to apply for your visas. If there are any issues with your application, you don’t want to have to worry about getting it rectified in time for your wedding.

You will also need to give your guests plenty of time to apply for their visas as well to make sure they’ll be able to attend the ceremony. Include all the necessary information about applying for visas on your wedding invites, to ensure guests have all the information they need.


When booking flight tickets, many brides will be eager to book their return flight under their new name. However, the passport will still feature the bride’s maiden name, so newlywed couples could face unexpected costs to alter their ticket – and that’s certainly not the best way to start married life.

Some countries may also require you to arrive some time in advance of the wedding, so be sure to research this so you can schedule the required time away from work.

Wedding insurance

While getting married abroad can be up to a third cheaper than the cost of a wedding in the UK, there are still some large costs involved. If anything goes wrong, such as the bride and groom falling ill or the venue flooding, wedding insurance will cover some of the costs of changing the date, or even a cancellation if necessary.

Marriage documents

Whichever country you decide to get married in, you will be required to complete paperwork beforehand. Each country is different in their requirement, so you must make sure you contact the government for the country you wish to get married in. Some countries, such as Italy, Spain and Greece, require couples to complete a certificate of no impediment to marriage, which is a document confirming there are no objections to the impending marriage.

You may also be required to fill out a single status/sworn affidavit. The single status part confirms that the couple are both single and are not currently married, while the sworn affidavit confirms your identity. This is not a government document, rather it is a letter signed in front of a notary public.

Following a rise in demand for weddings abroad, The Big Domain has created The Ultimate Wedding Planner to help soon-to-be newlyweds plan their perfect day in the sun.

Related content

supplier finder

Get a quote

Looking for that perfect local supplier?
Let us know what you need and we’ll start looking for you.

supplier finder

Find a supplier

Search over 200,000 Suppliers in the UK.



Everything for your wedding

Wedding Photo of the Week: Jessica Reynolds Photography

Each week we’re inviting all wedding photographers to submit their images to be Bri...

11 unique and unusual wedding gift ideas

Ask your guests to give you these quirky and personalised wedding gifts  ...

How to manage hay fever on your wedding day

Kick hay fever to the curb on your wedding day with this guide to managing your symptoms ...

The best wedding dresses for your body shape

If you don't know where to start when searching for your dream wedding dress, consider st...

9 expert tips for buying a bespoke engagement ring

How to ensure you stay on budget and on brief when buying a bespoke engagement ring ...

Looking for that perfect local supplier?
Let us know what you need and we’ll start looking for you.

the wedding show