What destination ceremony options are there? Are you planning an overseas wedding but are unclear as to how to going about organising your destination wedding ceremony?   This blog post follows on from my recent feature on Top Tips for Starting to Plan your Wedding where I outlined the initial few stages that you ideally need to go through at the very start of your destination wedding planning journey.

If you read the previous blog post, you will recall that one of the aspects of your wedding that  I ask you to think about is what type of wedding ceremony you would like .  Today, I am taking this one step further and outlining for you all of destination wedding ceremony options that are available to you and that I invite you to consider.

Destination Wedding Ceremony Options 1: Religious Ceremony at a Place of Worship

If you would like to marry at a place of worship, for example a Church or Synagogue, the first thing you will need to do is to make contact with the place of worship where you are interested in marrying and ask them for details of:

  • What they require of you, in order to agree to marry you
  • Is your preferred dates available and how do you go about securing it
  • Details about the ceremony itself including who would be the officiant, likely order of service etc

The other issue you need to address is whether or not they are also able to take care of the civil or legal requirements in order to officially register your marriage with the authorities.  But more about this later under “Civil Ceremony”

Destination wedding ceremony - Florence synagogue
Florence Synagogue

Destination Wedding Ceremony Options 2: Religious Ceremony at Your Wedding Reception Venue

As an alternative to a place of worship, it might be possible to have your destination wedding ceremony at your venue.  In this case, you might choose to bring your own officiant eg Priest, Rabbi etc from home.   This is a particularly personal touch for couples who have a close connection with such a person.  Is it important to you to have your own priest or Rabbi officiate at your destination wedding ceremony? If so, I would advise you to start the process by having a conversation with that person to ask them if they would be prepared to travel overseas in order to officiate at your wedding.  You also need to ask how much would they charge and any other  terms. For example, it is highly likely that they would ask you to arrange and pay for their flights and accommodation.

Destination wedding ceremony options
Wedding Ceremony at Venue

Alternatively, if you would prefer not to bring an officiant from home, you then need to source someone locally in the country where you are marrying who would be prepared to officiate at your religious ceremony at your venue. 

Whichever option you choose for your religious ceremony at your venue, you will also need to take care of the civil/legal requirements to ensure that your wedding is officially registered.

An advantage of hosting your religious ceremony at your venue is that you are not moving your guests around on your wedding day from one venue to another.  Please bear in mind they have already travelled overseas to join you. So in my opinion, it is important to try to make their experience of your wedding day as relaxed and effortless as possible.  If you are planning a two venue wedding, it is advised that you arrange transport for your guests to get them to each venue.

Destination Wedding Ceremony Options 3: Civil Ceremony

There are three options that I invite you to consider for your civil ceremony:

  • A civil ceremony at the local town hall/civic centre
  • A civil ceremony at your venue
  • A civil ceremony at home

Civil wedding overseas

For a civil ceremony in the country where you are marrying, you will need to find out the specific requirements of that country in order to marry you.   Unlike the UK, not many venues have licenses for civil ceremonies.  If you would like to marry at your venue,  special arrangements may need to be made.

It is also likely you will be asked to provide various items of legal documentation confirming who you are and that you are free to marry.  This often this needs to be prepared by a lawyer and then translated into the language of the country where you are marrying.  You might also need to arrange a meeting at the local town hall, again with an interpreter.  And on the day, it is unlikely that your marriage ceremony will be performed in your language. So again you will need an interpreter for your wedding day.  The entire process can be quite an undertaking and quite costly. But, it is all achievable if having your marriage registered in the country where your wedding is taking place is important to you.

Castello wedding ceremony
Castello wedding ceremony

Civil wedding at home

As a consequence of the complexities, many of my couples decide to take care of the civil/legal side of things by arranging a civil ceremony at home in the weeks leading up to their destination wedding.  Usually this is just a small affair, with just close family/friends in attendance.  Most couples who go this route tell me that their civil ceremony ends up being very special, as a pre-cursor to the start of their wedding celebrations.

Destination Wedding Ceremony Options 4: Symbolic Ceremony

In light of the fact we need to manage the civil requirements separately to the religious requirements and can take care of these back at home,  many of my non-religious couples opt for a symbolic ceremony.  What do we mean by this?

A symbolic ceremony has no religious or legal validity, but it can be the most personal and intimate of marriage ceremonies as we design it specifically for you.  We tell your story,  you write your own vows (with help if required),  we add in readings that resonate personally with you and we can add in bespoke elements that are unique and romantic.  You can design the ceremony yourself or we can involve a specially trained celebrant who will work with you to create the ceremony and can also officiate if you do not have a friend or family member who can do it for you.  In my opinion, symbolic ceremonies can be the most special of them all.

Destination Wedding Ceremony - symblolic ceremony
Symbolic ceremony – vows
Destination wedding ceremony options - symbolic ceremony
Destination wedding ceremony options – symbolic ceremony

Whichever of these destination wedding ceremony options you ultimately decide is right for you, I ask you to consider this.  Your guests are travelling overseas to witness your marriage.  The rest of the event is a celebration of this.  So make sure that you give your destination wedding ceremony the importance that it deserves and plan it very carefully.

If you would like some help with your destination wedding ceremony options, please get in touch.  You can contact me by email, by phone on + 44 7734 976459 or by heading over to the contact page on my website.

All of the weddings featured in this blog post were planned, designed and co-ordinated by Elegante by Michelle J.

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