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Considerations for getting married as an expat abroad

Tying the knot abroad is a dream for many, with nearly one in four Brits now choosing a destination wedding. But there is more to think about than just getting those aesthetic wedding photos for Instagram; marrying abroad requires careful planning.

Luckily, if you already live in the country, as many British expats do, it can be a lot easier to organise everything. Bethany Hemsley, overseas relocation specialist at Property Guides, explains what expats should consider when planning a wedding in their new country.

Deciding on where to get married as an expat

For some Brits living overseas, choosing between getting married abroad or back home in the UK can be the biggest challenge. After all, it’s likely most of your family and friends will be based in the UK and asking them to fly out for an overseas wedding might seem unfair.

However, often, those back home will be excited to come out and see you. Not only is it a chance to visit (they’ll likely have missed you!), but it is a great excuse for a holiday too, especially if you live somewhere warm and sunny. Make sure to show them around your local area!

On top of this, the average wedding in the UK now costs an average of £30,000. Getting married abroad is usually a lot cheaper, with a survey by Mintel revealing that the average overseas wedding cost just £6,500.

It can also be a big weight off your shoulders knowing that, with some certainty, you’ll have good weather on your wedding day. However, in the “shoulder seasons” of April/May and October, the weather can be just as unpredictable as the UK – so keep this in mind when booking a date for your big day.

Combining cultures into your wedding ceremony

If you do decide to get married abroad, there is no reason why you can’t combine both your home and new country’s cultures into your wedding ceremony. If your spouse is from your new country, it can be a great way to integrate your two cultures and feel even closer to one another.

For example, if you’re a British bride marrying a Spanish groom, you could incorporate both the British “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” tradition and the Spanish tradition of cutting the groom’s tie for good luck.

Another easy way to combine cultures is during the wedding reception meal. Why not have both Paella and a roast dinner? It will definitely give the guests something to talk about!

Just be careful not to ignore a cultural issue that could make your guests feel uncomfortable.

Make sure your marriage is recognised back in the UK

Your wedding day will hopefully be a day filled with happiness, love and laughter, but it is important to remember that you are entering into a very serious legal arrangement. The wedding celebrant will explain all the serious stuff.

If you think you might return to the UK in the future, it is important to make sure that your marriage is recognised in the UK. This shouldn’t be a problem so long as your international marriage complies with the laws of the country you married in.

If you want to get married in Spain, the laws are quite strict and one of you will need to have been a resident of Spain for at least two years. On the other hand, in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory bordering Spain, it is much easier for internationals to wed. You can actually get married within 48 hours under a special license.