Should you have a legal wedding or a symbolic wedding?

One of the first decisions that you’ll want to make about your destination wedding is whether you want to have a legal wedding ceremony or a symbolic wedding ceremony.

Your guests usually won’t be able to tell the difference between the two, though, so it’s really just a matter of which one you prefer.

A legal destination wedding ceremony is legal in the country you get married and also recognized legally back here in the U.S.

In comparison, a symbolic wedding is not legally recognized at all, so you would take care of getting legally married at home before (or sometimes after) leaving and then you’d have a symbolic ceremony in destination.

It's important to know that each country has its own legal wedding requirements, so it’s good to decide if you do want to have a legal wedding early in the planning process as it will often have an impact on which destination you choose.



Aside from the legality issue itself, here are some other differences to consider:

Legal Destination Weddings (aka Civil Weddings)

  • Performed by a judge

  • Can be required to arrive up to three or four business days prior to ceremony

  • Need to follow country’s legal wedding requirements (e.g. blood tests in Mexico)

  • Ceremony may be performed in another language (e.g. Spanish in Mexico and the Dominican Republic)

  • Typically more expensive - involves legal fees like: the officiant’s services, translation/processing of paperwork, translator for ceremony, etc.

EXPERT TIP: Jamaica is one of the least expensive and easiest countries to have a legal wedding ceremony

Symbolic Destination Weddings

  • Performed by a non-denominational minister

  • Typically required to arrive 48 hours prior to ceremony

  • Hassle-free with less documentation required

  • Usually less expensive because there aren’t any additional legal fees

  • Most popular type of ceremony

Besides each country having its own legal wedding requirements, each resort also has its own requirements for both types of ceremonies to consider as well.

I know this can all start to feel a bit overwhelming, but as your destination wedding planner I’m here to help you sort through all of these details and make sure nothing gets overlooked.

I’ll help you break it all down and use my expertise to advise you on which options are going to give you the type of experience you’re specifically looking for!



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Related blog posts:

Is a Destination Wedding Right For You?

How Much Does a Destination Wedding Actually Cost?

What Are The Best Destination Wedding Locations?

What Are The Top Destination Wedding Resorts?

How To Fly With Your Wedding Dress



CLICK HERE to schedule your FREE destination wedding planning session.

Jodi Schlichting

Travel Advisor

jodi@everaftertravel.org

612.730.5019

EverAfter Travel

www.everaftertravel.org

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