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destination wedding legal checklist

Making sure your destination wedding is legal

Belize-bound for your special day? Or perhaps you’re heading to palm trees within the United States. Regardless of whether your destination wedding is abroad or domestic, you need to know what to do to make your union official. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your magical day is official.

Marriage laws vary by location. Many resorts will offer a marriage package that includes the venue, someone to officiate the wedding, and include other details to make it unique to each couple. But if you are not planning on getting married at a resort here are some things you should know:

How long does it take to get a marriage license?

Make sure you arrive at the location early enough to apply for and receive your license.

How do you transfer the marriage back to the US?

This is especially important if you’re getting married in the Caribbean or Mexico. Check with your local courthouse to make sure that your marriage is recognized by the US. This will be needed for insurance, taxes, and other areas where you need to show proof of your marriage.

Are blood tests required?

This varies based on location. If they are required, you’ll need to allow time to get them done or be prepared to show results from recent tests once you arrive.

What kind of identification and other documents are needed?

You might need your current passport in addition to your birth certificate and proof of residence.

How many witnesses do you need?

This varies everywhere. Make sure you know ahead of time so you aren’t pulling people off the street.

Check the rules around the location of your wedding.

Technically, your wedding will be a public gathering. Parks and beaches commonly have rules around what’s allowed and what you need a permit for. Make sure that it’s all squared away before guests show up.

Pick your vendors ahead of time—and have them sign contracts.

You’ll be planning from a distance, so make sure that everyone you hire signs a contract and has good reviews before the big day. The last thing you want is a caterer who doesn’t show up or a cake that says “It’s a boy!” If you need a contract, we’ve got you covered. Check out our most common contracts on the Getting Married Checklist that our brides and grooms use with their vendors.

If all of this is going to add to your pre-wedding nerves, you might consider opting for a simple ceremony in your hometown via your local courthouse or notary public; and then have the symbolic ceremony at your destination choice.

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