The dream of having a wedding abroad is fast becoming a reality for many couples. But sometimes the planning can become quite difficult, we’re here to look at planning a wedding abroad.

planning-a-wedding-abroad-1With the average wedding in the UK costing around £20,000 (source: Mintel), weddings abroad are coming in at a relatively cheap £6,500, making them the perfect choice for couples on a budget. “Planning a wedding abroad was the perfect way to get everything we wanted without the added costs associated with a wedding at home,” says real bride Lauren who tied the knot in Jamaica. “We would recommend it to anyone looking to take the stress out of the big day.” Not only are you practically guaranteed glorious weather, the growing number of planners and tour operators organising weddings overseas means that the legal side of things can be taken care of, leaving you to concentrate on the fun bits.

The first thing you need when planning a wedding abroad to do is hire a wedding planner. Find out who organises weddings in your chosen destination and ask them about the different types of service they offer when, and talk about how much you have to spend before you start planning a wedding abroad. Find out if they will handle all the legal elements for you. They should be able to liaise with local suppliers and get you the best deals. Ask for references and photos of their work. Many of the bigger hotels will have an events co-ordinator or wedding manager who will be able to help you too.

Secondly, don’t even think about planning a wedding abroad until you have actually visited that destination. If your budget allows, make a preliminary visit to the place where you’re hoping to marry. Meet up with your planner and visit the suggested ceremony and reception venues. Meet suppliers, too, where possible. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take your own hairdresser and make-up artist with you, so find out who will be doing your hair and make-up on the day and ask for a trial if possible.

There are several major documents that you need when planning a wedding abroad. In most cases you will need to present the following original documents on arrival:

  • Birth certificates
  • Valid 10-year passports
  • Affidavit/statutory declarations
  • Confirming single status
  • Decree Absolute (if you are divorced)
  • Previous spouse’s death certificate (if you are widowed)
  • Parental consent if you are under 18 (21 in some countries).

When you’re planning a wedding abroad you need to check the period of time you have to be present in the country before you can get married. Some countries require you to have visas, and it is your responsibility to get these. For the most up-to-date information contact the relevant embassy. In some countries you’ll also have to wait for the documents to be translated. Check with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for more information.

Try to avoid arriving a day before the wedding. Allow at least four days to visit the local Public Register Office if needed. This will also give you time to sort out any last-minute changes.

When it comes to choosing a wedding dress for a wedding abroad, you need to think the climate you’re marrying in. If it’s a hot country, avoid heavy fabrics like satin. Lightweight chiffons and tulles will look amazing and keep you cool at the same time. Also consider how you will transport your wedding dress. Most brides like to take it in the hold of the plane with them in case their luggage gets lost or delayed. The same goes for jewellery, and especially your wedding rings.


Planning a wedding abroad Q&A With Jo Sharples, Wedding Editor, Thomson

When I book a wedding with Thomson, what happens when we arrive?

You’ll meet with your weddings advisor. They’ll be on hand to take care of every little detail, so your big day runs without a hitch. They’ll check through your documents, run through the ceremony and sort out any extras like music and transport.

Will our wedding be legally recognised in the UK?

Yes. All Thomson weddings are carried out by official marriage officers in line with British law and are registered in the country where the ceremony takes place. If you want to have your marriage recorded in the UK, you can lodge your original marriage certificate with the General Register Office.

Who will marry us?

The ceremony is usually a civil service led by a local registrar with two witnesses. In Cyprus we also offer church weddings which are Anglican services carried out by an English minister.

What else do I need to remember?

Requirements for legal documents are subject to change. This can happen at short notice and means you may have to pay extra. Make sure you check all your documents for mistakes – such as misspelt names – as this can lead to cancellation of your wedding.

Are you currently planning a wedding abroad? Where are you staying?

Let us know x


  1. It was a consideration, then we had the realisation that noone would be able to make the trip for either health or money reasons, so with that in mind we are staying in the UK and the wedding with our honeymoon of a lifetime IS coming in at pushing 20k and while I didnt plan on that it will be worth it (its the honeymoon that bumped up the budget but hey you only get 1 honeymoon)


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