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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