Getting married abroad

Getting Married Abroad – Planning a Wedding Overseas

Getting married is an exciting milestone, and although wedding planning can be tedious and time consuming, it’s often half the fun of making your chosen day special! For the happy couples that choose to take it a step further, considering getting married abroad adds an extra wow factor to the festivities and opens up a whole new world of destinations for your wedding. The last thing you may want to do while you’re happily choosing a beautiful beach or a gorgeous mountainous area for your special day, is to discuss paperwork and technicalities. It is extremely important, however, to ensure the dirty details are squared away before you board a plane with your spouse to be!

Getting Married Abroad | Where Do I Start?

The U.S. Department of State has great information to help you start researching what you’ll need to get married abroad. The easiest starting point is to decide where you’d like to get married, and then research the marriage laws in that particular country/region. Generally speaking, if a marriage is legal in the region or country of your choice, it will also be legal back home in the United States as well.

If nailing out the details of getting married abroad seems too intimidating, have no fear! There are other options if you prefer not to weather the storm alone. Enlisting the help of a wedding planner can help take some of the stress off of the happy couple. In fact, there are even wedding planners who specialize in arranging marriages abroad. Take a look at the Marry Me Abroad website to see if having a specialty wedding planner interests you.

What Paperwork Do I Need?

There is quite a bit of paperwork you will need to successfully tie the knot overseas. For a handy list, refer to Weddings Abroad, which has a comprehensive list of documents and paperwork you’ll need as well as additional information on getting married abroad. From birth certificates to divorce records, you’ll want to make sure you have all the boxes checked before the big day!

Always refer to the foreign Embassy or Consulate in the country where you plan to be married abroad for the final say in documents required for a legal marriage. Laws can vary by region, so make sure to read up on the requirements for your location of choice. The following list includes some of the most common documentation required for getting married abroad:

  • Birth certificate: Supplying birth certificates for you and your spouse should be nice and easy! If you don’t have copies on hand, VitalChek can help you get a hold of these fast.
  • Passport: Have you renewed your passport recently? Depending on when you’ve chosen to get married abroad, you may need to renew your passport. Most foreign countries require your passport to be valid for 6 months following your date of arrival.
  • Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry: This document is unique to foreign countries, as there is not a document like it in the United States. This affidavit declares your “single status” and that you are free to enter into a marriage contract legally. This document is also known as a Single Status Affidavit or an Affidavit of Civil Status. Reach out to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in the country you’ll be getting married abroad in for these documents.

Other Considerations

Beyond the typical documents you would expect to need when getting married abroad, there are some additional considerations that you will want to consider before you say “I do!”. Residency requirements, blood tests, announcements of your plans to be married, and more might also be a factor in the preparation for your wedding. Make sure to thoroughly research the country you’ve chosen and familiarize yourself with the requirements beforehand, as some documents or processes required might take a bit a time to finalize. The last thing you want to do is wait until the last minute – wedding planning is stressful enough without the added worry of an oddball requirement that you might’ve missed!

A beautiful couple getting married abroad in Roma, Italy

A beautiful couple getting married abroad in Roma, Italy – Italy is an example of a foreign country with minimal residency requirements.

Residency requirements vary greatly by location, and should be one of the first considerations when choosing where you’d like to get married abroad. For example, some countries have very minimal requirements where the couple must stay in that region for a certain period of time before they can legally be married there. The Bahamas, Italy, Greece, and Jamaica, for example, only require you to be in the region for 24 hours before you are free to get married. In other locations, however, one or both person(s) has to be a legal resident of that region.

If you have decided to do all of your wedding planning yourself, a thorough checklist will be your best friend! Wedding planning at home can already be a little bit crazy – taking things overseas brings on a whole new set of challenges that you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for. Consider that you might not be able to see the venue of your choosing before the big day, or that you’ll definitely want to get a big head start on booking foreign vendors. Depending on how elaborate your plans for welcome bags or gifts to the bridal party are, you’ll want to consider when and where to purchase and assemble them before your trip. Shipping costs for these items might be high, and there’s always the risk of them getting stuck in customs too! The more thorough you are in your planning and research, the more smoothly things will go. Take time to enjoy the process and start getting excited!


We hope this was a helpful resource for you in considering getting married abroad. If you need any assistance in obtaining any vital records before your big day, VitalChek is the place to go! We’re happy to help get you the documents you need to get you started on planning the wedding day of a lifetime!

Leave A Comment