Say “Yes” and Go!

I was a guest blogger for Sheila Gallant-Halloran who is a wonderful travel advisor with Vision 2000 Travel Group.  She had posted an earlier article on the increasing trend in destination weddings and asked me for my views on it. Here is the post – but take a moment to visit her blog as well. Her contact info:

Vegas Bride walking through the casino

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Twitter: @sheila_gh


Imagine your wedding on a beach in the Caribbean with the soft sound of the surf behind you and the warm rays of the sun caressing your skin. Destination weddings conjure up some of the most romantic images for the bonding of a couple. It is certainly an attractive idea to combine the wedding ceremony and honeymoon in one intimate event at a fabulous dream location.

As a standard practice, wedding ceremonies are comprised of two different parts. There is the publicly expressed spiritual and emotional commitment of the couple to each other. Just as importantly, there is the legal section that recognizes the union of the couple by the law of the land. When considering a destination wedding, the legal requirements vary by location and can be a challenge to meet.

In Canada and the United States, the marriages are governed by the province or state. There are differences in each that must be considered. For example, Ontario requires two witnesses and there is no waiting period. Quebec requires couples to post notice of their wedding 20 days prior to the event. Las Vegas is a popular wedding spot and only requires one witness.

If we look at other countries, there are more requirements. It is not uncommon to need your proof of age and applications translated to Spanish and notarized at the local embassy. Blood tests may need to be provided. There may be residency requirements, where you must be in the country for a pre-determined number of days before you get married. Some nuances may exist. Thailand has a 310 waiting period after the death of a spouse or declaration of divorce before you can re-marry. The ceremony may be conducted in a foreign language that you don’t understand and have no knowledge of what was said. A recent controversy with the Maldives and how a couple were ridiculed hit YouTube and exposes how the wedding performed was not legal.

It is without a doubt that the foreign legal issues can dampen the idyllic quest for the romantic destination wedding. This can be resolved quite simply by having a local officiant perform the legal ceremony before you leave for your destination. Having completed your legal requirements in your country, then you are free to have the spiritual commitment ceremony at the destination performed by whomever you want.

Officants, like me, perform ceremonies on location. One option would be to conduct a private ceremony in your home before you leave. Another more interesting idea would be to conduct the ceremony at the airport chapel just before boarding your flight. Most airports have a chapel that are for use by travellers and weddings can be conducted with advanced notice. The Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands has promoted weddings at the airport for some time. On June 1, 2010, Japan’s Narita Airport also started promoting weddings on-location recognizing the increasing destination wedding trend.

A destination wedding is a uber romantic vision of how you want to be married. However the legal contortions in a foreign country can be worrisome and put a dent in your stress free event. You can consider getting the legal wedding completed before you go and enjoy the wedding and honeymoon of your dreams.