If you’re considering a destination wedding, choosing the ideal location is paramount to having the wedding of your dreams! Are you visualising yourself saying “I do” on a tranquil white beach with the sand between your toes and the waves lapping at your ankles?
I’m sure you are but there are definitely factors you should consider, when choosing where this breathtaking scene will take place – and they have nothing to do with the picturesque landscape!
Thinking about the less sexy parts of choosing the location well before you have your heart set on a place, will help you avoid potential obstacles that you could encounter in the future.
Now, I know we’ve all booked holidays on a whim…because Jetstar had ridiculously cheap flights. Or there was an amazing deal displayed in Flight Centre as you walked past after doing your shopping. Not to mention the countless email offers from Expedia or Webjet that come pouring into our inboxes daily! Regardless of where you purchased your spontaneous holiday, most of the time, these trips, are to places you’ve visited before.
Afterall, you know the good spots to get a cocktail or where the best hotels or local treasures are. It’s safe and so you see no harm in clicking buy because it’s on sale. Now for some of you the same rules may apply for your destination wedding. You’re strongly considering a location because you think it would be perfect for your destination wedding.
But just because it is a wonderful holiday destination, doesn’t mean it will make a wonderful wedding destination.
So whether you have a good idea of where you would like your destination wedding to be or if you are just starting to flesh out your ideas, here’s some tips, things to consider and areas to research to help you narrow down your ideal location.
Before you get your heart set on the physical landscape it is a very good idea to research the current political climate of a destination. Conducting a quick smarttraveller.gov.au search is a great place to start!
The Smart Traveller site is updated and monitored 24/7 and gives constant, up to date information about what’s happening across the globe.
Use the entry requirements list to scope out potential visas or background checks that you or your guests, may be required to complete before you can gain entry such as an ESTA for the US.
Smart Traveller is a fantastic resource for sussing out potential dangers or hazards. What is the current terror threat level? Is there potential civil unrest? There is a recent measles breakout. It’s earthquake or typhoon season. Make smarttraveller.gov.au your first stop off when you are researching possible locations.
When you’re planning a destination wedding you may need to consider what certain countries deem inappropriate or illegal before settling on that location. Every country has its own laws and regulations that you’ll have to abide by.
Think about you and your guests, on a basic relationship level. Did you know that it is now illegal in Bali to have sex before marriage? This means, that as a couple checking in to a hotel room, if you aren’t legally married than you’re breaking the law! This stands even if you’re travelling to Bali to get married. So, in theory, you would have to purchase separate hotel rooms until after your wedding night and this also applies to all of your guests.
In Australia and in most of the western world, no relationship is illegal – you are free to love and marry whomever you wish, unfortunately, this is not the case in all countries and there can be very strict consequences for not adhering to these laws.
Here is a comprehensive list of countries to avoid if you are part of the LGBT community Worst and Safest Countries for Travel in 2019 . In this list, Asher and Lyric Fergusson identify some popular destination wedding locations, which you may not realise are dangerous.
The Maldives, a very popular resort location for travellers, is ranked 17 out of 150 on their list. Not only does engaging in a homosexual act or marriage result in up to 8 years imprisonment, the offenders could also receive 100 lashings, which is barbaric by western standards.
Do your research and go beyond the images in the brochure. Always keep yourself and your guests in the foreground when selecting your ideal destination wedding location.
I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about Spring – wedding season! Living in Australia often leaves us out of the seasonal loop.
We don’t tend to realise this too much unless we expose ourselves to fashion trends or are avid followers of celebrities from the US or UK, who are posting shots of themselves throwing snowballs, while we are sweating it out in 38-degree temperatures.
But as you probably learnt way back in Year 7 science class, when the blossoms come out in the northern hemisphere, the leaves are falling here and vice versa. Now this isn’t a problem if you are getting married at home, but when you are planning a destination wedding, thinking about when you’re going to have your wedding should definitely follow right after you have decided on where you’re having it.
I’m sure you picture yourself saying “I do” on a tropical island paradise and while this is an amazing fantasy, it is important to remember that tropical islands aren’t always tropical paradises.
Between the months of November and February, Hawaii, for example, is experiencing its ‘wet’ season. One minute you’re staring out at the gorgeous blue horizon, and the next minute (literally, a double take) and that stunning blue sky has black storm clouds forming. Before you know it, you are up to your ankles in storm water runoff which is not the best scene when you are planning a destination wedding.
Research on the best times to travel to your chosen location. Take your guests into consideration. You wouldn’t want them sweltering out in the heat if you decide that July is the best time to head to the tropics (it’s really not) or you wouldn’t want them getting caught in heavy rain showers, if you decided to be married in Kyoto in cherry blossom season.
Take the time to find the right date – or in the case of cherry blossom season – at least supply them with cute umbrellas.
When you think about getting married, it’s not even comprehendible to not walk down the aisle. Regardless of whether you’re watching as they walk up or you’re the one doing the walking, it is an integral part of the ceremony – one walks up, both say their vows, sign their certificate and the two walk back together as one.
This will happen if you’re on location for a destination wedding but it’s not the only aisle you will be walking and its actually not the important one if you want the marriage to be legal when you return to Australia.
We are lucky in Australia that most marriages are recognised as legal by our government, if they are recognised as legal where the wedding took place and of course meet the standard marriage requirements, if you were to be married here.
The difficult part is researching how to legally get married, as a foreigner, in the country you have selected as your destination wedding location – and every country is different!
Take the Kyoto example mentioned above. The Australian Embassy to Japan gives basically not details in how you might go about getting married in Japan. There is a very simple statement mentioning the “Certificate of No Impediment (CNI)” document with no direct link – not exactly helpful when you’re planning your destination wedding.
You can have a celebrant sign the paperwork, with two witnesses, back in Australia and simply have the overseas ceremony for the romance and splendour of the experience.
But if you want your overseas ceremony to be legal, you’ll have to put research the individual requirements for your chosen location.
Google is a great place to start. Conducting a simple “how do Australians get married in Japan” google search, for example, brings up several different sites, from blogs of people who have been in this exact position before through to TripAdvisor forum questions on this exact topic.
Keep in mind, that as it is general information, you will need to contact the authorities in the chosen country or you can ask the venue who is conducting the ceremony for assistance, if you aren’t sure. Either way in most cases you need to march down the embassy aisle at least 24 hours before you say “I do” or it won’t be considered a legally binding marriage.
If you’re considering a destination wedding for your special day, it is so important that you keep your head out of the romantic clouds and consider far more than the picturesque photo opportunities of your chosen location – there is so much more involved than clicking buy on a super saver deal and doing the legwork early in the process will ensure that everything runs smoother leading up the big day.