How to Prep for Your International Wedding or Honeymoon

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Destination weddings are especially romantic—seaside ceremonies or receptions with mountain views are beyond memorable. But if your destination wedding is in another country, you’ll have plenty of un-romantic tasks at hand. Between traveling and legalizing your marriage, there’s a lot to take care of. But if you prepare far enough in advance, the whole experience should be stress-free!
Do your research. 
All countries (the U.S. included) have specific laws regarding marriage. Some aren’t a big deal (like requiring a certain number of witnesses), but others could impact your wedding in a big way (like needing to be in the country for a week before saying your vows). Each country is different, though, so you’ll have to spend some time learning the local laws. Your first stop? The nation’s tourism office. 
Get your marriage license. 
Again, you’ll need to research this. Some countries charge a fee (which you’ll have to pay in local currency) and require different identifications documents. You might even need written permission from your home state. Plus, it could take a few days to have the paperwork ready, so plan in advance. Want to avoid dealing with all this legal stuff in on unfamiliar turf? We don’t blame you. Consider your destination wedding more symbolic than legal—and make the legal stuff happen before or after the actual ceremony when you’re back home. It may not seem that romantic, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t make a huge difference and it could save you a TON of stress. 
Hire some help. 
Not to freak you out, but planning an international destination wedding is much harder than planning a wedding in your hometown. While you can do some things from afar, it’s tough to tackle everything from behind a phone or computer screen. A wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings or the resort’s event coordinator could be a major lifesaver. He or she will know the local vendors as well as the ins and outs of the local laws — one less thing for you to worry about! Update your passport. And don’t procrastinate on this one! Processing a new passport can take up to six weeks. But wouldn’t you rather have it in your hands long before the big day? Plan to get your passport as soon as you decide on an out-of-the-country wedding. (You’ll also need it for planning trips!)
Book your transportation. 
International travel can be pricey—but the sooner you book, the more you’ll save! As soon as you set the date, determine when you want to arrive. We’d recommend at least two days before the actual wedding, but remember to check those residency laws. And don’t only think about flights—how will you get from the airport to the resort? The further in advance you can plan, the better. 
Hold off on changing your name. 
Can’t wait to sign your new name? You really should. If you change your name before your destination wedding, things might get complicated. Your passport and ID might have the wrong name, which could cause some confusion. Be sure to also book your travel under your maiden name. When you get home, you’ll have plenty of time to legally make the switch. Until then, you and your new spouse can enjoy using the new name (just not on paper!). 
See your doc. 
Some countries require all travelers to have certain vaccinations (and documentation). Make sure you are up to date! Generally, the required vaccines are common in the U.S. too, so there’s a chance you’re in the clear. But if you’re going somewhere particularly exotic, a new medication may be in your future. P.S. You may want to warn your guests and wedding party to check their medical history, too!
Pack smart. 
You’re going to take a ton of stuff with you — and plenty of it will be valuable. Don’t just throw everything into your suitcase at the last minute! You’re bound to be held up at the airport security checkpoint if you do. Think it through. If you have a special cake knife, stow it in checked luggage, not your carry-on (unless you want TSA to tackle you to the ground). You may want to keep delicate champagne glasses with you — those suitcases get thrown around quite a bit! Plus, We’ve all heard petrifying stories about someone’s checked bag being picked over. You can’t necessarily prevent that, but you can protect yourself by leaving your prized possessions out of checked luggage. Your wedding dress, rings, and other valuables should go in your carry-on or purse. Once all of these less-than-romantic details are settled, you can dive into the fun part of planning a destination wedding or a fun honeymoon! Bon, voyage!  
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