Many people dream of getting hitched on faraway shores, with gorgeous landscapes, balmy climates and more forgiving price tags. And why wouldn’t you? In a more mobilized and connected society, it is easier than ever before to get married in exciting Italy, fabulous France or picture-perfect Portugal. As a destination wedding planner for Portugal, I want to help and encourage you to make that dream come true. But first thing’s first: we must debunk some common myths about marrying abroad so you can go into the planning process with realistic expectations. Here are the top 5 myths about marrying abroad!
1. Marrying abroad is always cheaper
To be honest I steer clear of “never” and “always” when it comes to weddings. Weddings aren't always expensive. Rings aren't always remembered. Couples don't always kiss during the ceremony (trust me on that one). But this statement can be particularly damaging when it comes to planning your wedding abroad. The idea that you are cutting costs dramatically by going to a different country to marry is slightly short sighted. On the face of it, your money can stretch a little further, especially in the less popular wedding destinations like Portugal and Malta, but you have to take your extra costs into consideration. Travel costs, accommodation, translation services, celebrants and registrar fees all need to be accounted for when building your wedding budget. You also have to take into account your exchange rate from your home currency to the currency in your wedding destination of choice. Sometimes this goes wildly in your favour and sometimes it's a poor show where you aren't really making many savings at all. This is why an expert, consultative destination wedding planner should help you to build a realistic portrait of how your wedding budget should be best spent and a more approximate idea of how far your money will go.
2. Weddings abroad are not legally binding in your home country
This is very dependent on the legislation in your home country and your wedding location of choice, but generally speaking, in a growing globalised world, it is getting easier and easier to legally marry abroad. For example, UK nationals can marry in Portugal legally without any residency or language requirements. That being said I cannot stress enough how overwhelming, taxing and lengthy the paperwork process is to marry in Portugal (especially without the help of an expert destination wedding planner based in Portugal). There are quite a few documents that need to be translated and notarised within a certain time frame for your wedding to be registered correctly. In other countries it can be a more or less complicated process but there will always be an added element of red tape when it comes to legally getting married abroad. This is why I do recommend that couples have a registered ceremony in their home country first and then have a humanist/celebrant-led ceremony or blessing in Portugal instead. Portugal is home to many excellent celebrants who can craft a personalised, romantic, unique service for your wedding day. You may be technically married beforehand but your ceremony in Portugal can still be the main event!
3. You always have to have a set package to marry abroad
It is very common for destination weddings to be offered in a package form (usually by planners or a wedding venue). They will have a set group of suppliers included in a neat little price packet to deliver all aspects of your wedding. This approach is to enable a wedding to be planned with one click. Your photographer, florist, cake designer, makeup artist, hairstylist and often your menu choices will all be included in this set package.
I’m a little biased because I HATE wedding packages with a passion. My approach to planning is consultative through and through, putting you in the driver’s seat for your own dream wedding. I like to give my clients the choice of wedding suppliers that suit their style and therefore, they can have a completely personalised wedding. There are planners all over the world that work this way and there are planners that have set packages. If you would prefer everything to be taken care of in one go then by all means, opt for a wedding package, but don’t do it just because you think that’s the only option. There are plenty of great destination wedding planners who are truly bespoke.
4. You have to be a resident or native to the country to get married there
We touched on this a little bit earlier on in this article but residency can be a tricky one! This is very dependent on the country of choice. For example, as of the writing of this article, there is a required residency period in order to marry in France but this is not the case in Portugal. Residency periods only need to be completed by one of the two of you and it needs to immediately precede your wedding ceremony. It is very difficult to cheat your way out of a residency period as well; often you will need to prove that you have lived there by way of utility bills in your name. However don’t be disheartened by this. It’s a great opportunity to have an extended holiday and do a bit of travelling! For the most up-to-date information, be sure to consult your wedding planner or wedding coordinator at your chosen venue.
5. You have to have a local wedding planner*
I will level with you: this is actually a myth. It is not completely necessary to have a local or specialised destination wedding planner to plan your wedding abroad for you. Many wedding suppliers make themselves readily available to contact online. Wedding venues are particularly well connected and can often help you with sourcing suppliers, although this may take the form of a standard pre-priced package. For a more hands on approach, a google search will yield plenty of results for talented wedding suppliers local to the country of interest. It is even the case that many wedding suppliers who specifically market to destination wedding clients will speak a variety of languages, making it that much easier to communicate with your prospective A team.
HOWEVER I put an asterisk on this myth because it is highly highly advisable for you to hire one purely to make the process easier and help you navigate your destination wedding planning journey. Considering making it legal there? The boatload of paperwork and the process of giving notice can be a hassle to do on your own. Not to mention if you want more individual attention and a customised approach to your wedding, a planner will also be instrumental in sourcing and executing the finer details. Think of a wedding planner like your Google Maps. If you don't know where you are going and you have no Google maps, it is possible to find where you are going without it. You may take a few wrong turns and feel a bit overwhelmed but you will get there... eventually! Having a planner is that guiding force to the destination wedding of your dreams.
And that’s it! My answers to the top 5 myths about marrying abroad. If you have any questions then do ping me on my Youtube channel or my Instagram and I’ll see you next week when we’ll be talking about the best historical wedding venues in Portugal.
Ta ta for now,