The Five ‘I dos’ for a perfect overseas wedding
If you don’t want your wedding photos ruined by grey skies and windswept hair, consider tying the knot abroad, says Jamie Gibbs from confused.com.
Who doesn’t love a wedding in the sun? Perfect outdoor wedding photos, happy guests, and a great day for everyone – especially you. However, given the somewhat temperamental British weather, we’re lucky if we can find an hour’s worth of good weather among all the drizzle. The average UK wedding costs around £18,500, so if you’re paying that kind of money, why not try to buy a bit of sunshine as well?
According to Travelex, almost a third of UK couples are tying the knot overseas. Imagine enjoying a sunset wedding on the beaches of Florida, far away from the grey and drizzle of in the UK. Not only that, but it’s estimated that an overseas wedding can shave roughly £5,000 off your wedding costs. There’s also
a small glimmer of smugness in the knowledge that you’re lapping up the sun on a gorgeous beach while others are getting rained on back at home.
That being said, a wedding in another country requires a little more legwork in order to make your day perfect.
Top destinations for a winter sun wedding
This all depends on how late in the year you decide to get hitched. If you’re looking to get married in late September or October, you can still opt for Continental Europe before the first signs of winter start to show. You’re going to get pretty good temperatures in the mid to high-twenties for destinations like Rhodes and Cyprus, but once you start edging closer to Christmas it’s best to think long-haul to get the best weather.
The Caribbean remains one of the most popular wedding destinations all year round. From the 600-foot high Dunns River Falls in Jamaica to the white sand beaches of Guardalavaca in Cuba, each of the islands offers something unique that’ll add that little bit extra to your wedding. The Caribbean stays at a glorious 30 degrees nearly all year round, so you can enjoy a cocktail by the pool after the wedding is done.
Top tip: Get married on Jamaica or Cuba’s western side for spectacular sunset photos on the shoreline.
Sort out the legal ins and outs
In order for any overseas marriage to be legally recognised in the UK, it needs to be legal in the country where the wedding took place. Back in 1990, Mick Jagger married Jerry Hall in a Hindu ceremony in Bali, only to find out a decade later that the wedding wasn’t legally recognised.
A UK couple marrying in a different country require a ‘minimum residency period’, where you have to spend a certain amount of time in the country before getting married. In most countries this is at least three days, but destinations like Florida and the Dominican Republic require more.
You’ll also need to bring certain documents along with you, which will vary between countries. As a general rule of thumb, if you make sure you have these items, you should be able to cover all your bases.
Florida and Jamaica are the only long-haul wedding destinations that issue the marriage certificate in English, but you can get the certificate translated into English for your own records.
Top tip: Deposit your certificate in the General Registry Office at the British Embassy. This makes sure that a record of the marriage is kept in case it’s ever needed under UK law.
Cross the T’s and dot the I’s
If you want to avoid the cliché of having a Bridezilla moment, having a wedding planner will take a lot of the stress away from your wedding. A good wedding planner will be able to organise the finer details such as makeup, flowers and any special touches or requests that you want for your wedding.
Also, be sure to check the details of any travel insurance policy you take out. As a general rule, anything specific to the wedding (rings, outfits, gifts and photos) aren’t covered by a standard travel insurance policy. If you want to be completely covered, many travel insurance companies provide wedding cover as an extra.
Top tip: Don’t assume that your wedding insurance also covers your honeymoon just because they’re both in the same place. In the majority of cases, you’ll need separate honeymoon insurance, as wedding insurance only covers the ceremony and reception.
It’s all about the dress
Unless you plan on wearing your wedding dress on the plane, don’t forget that you’ll need to pack it away (preferably in your hand luggage so you know it will definitely arrive with you!). This means avoiding long trails, extra ruffles and heavy fabric. You can also get the dress packed professionally into your hand luggage so you can be certain it’ll be just as beautiful as when you first tried it on.
Natural fabrics such as cotton, light silk and linen are breathable and do a better job at getting rid of the heat than synthetic fabrics, so dresses made from these fabrics will make sure you don’t overheat so you can look your best in the wedding photos. This also applies to the groom’s outfit – a three-piece tuxedo in the heat isn’t going to be comfortable, but a simple jacket and trouser combination in white linen will keep him cool and fit in well with the tropical surroundings.
Top tip: Never scrimp on the sunscreen, but make sure you apply it at least 30 minutes before getting into your dress to make sure it won’t rub off.
Keep your guests happy
One of the many benefits to getting married abroad is that you’ll be sharing your special day with a handpicked selection of close family and friends. Catering for 20 wedding guests in Florida can also work out less expensive than catering for 120 guests back in the UK, plus you can avoid the whole ‘do I really have to invite that distant cousin who I’ve not spoken to since I was three?’ scenario.
That being said, there will be a lot of you friends and family who will still want to offer their congratulations but can’t make it to the ceremony. In this case, many couples choose to have a small wedding party when they’re back in the UK. If you’re saving £5,000 on the wedding itself, then an extra get together won’t put you over budget.
Top tip: For the tech-savvy bride and groom, you can stream the wedding live to your friends and family via Google Hangouts, Skype or Facetime.
Find your perfect place to say ‘I do’ on the Thomson Weddings website.
Jamie Gibbs is the resident blogger for travel insurance comparison site Confused.com. He’s been to many wedding fairs but never makes it past the free chocolate fountain.