Congratulations!  Ok, whilst this isn’t nearly as exciting as choosing outfits, rings and menus, if you are getting married abroad there a few legal formalities you must think about in plenty of time.  Marriage abroad may confer all manner of different rights and responsibilities so its worth checking carefully.

Your choice of location might also significantly add to the growing stress levels so do make sure that you have your paperwork in order in plenty of time.    The first thing to check is that the country you have in mind has signed up to the necessary international treaty by which marriages are recognised.  You don’t want to be in a position where you’re legally married in one country but not in the UK!  Check out the 1978 Hague Convention on the Recognition of Marriage  and the status table to see if your country is recognised.

(As an aside did you know that in some parts of the world including Texas and Mexico you can even get married by sending a proxy along in your place – you don’t even need to be present!)

Many travel agents and bridal consultants services / wedding planners offer these services but its always best for you to personally check the website of the Embassy in question or their local consulate to get the up to date forms.  Most countries will require you to be resident in the country for at least a few days before the ceremony (how long exactly depends upon place to place) so make sure you’ve allowed leeway for flight delays.

So what’s the role of the notary in all this? Well, as you’d imagine, there’s lots of paperwork required and that might have to be sent to the country concerned a few months in advance.  You might need to produce copy passports, birth certificates, parental consents and other affidavits.  You might also be told to produce a “Certificate of Non-Impediment” from your local Registry Office and all these forms may have to be notarised.  Many countries simply don’t understand what a “solicitor” is and/or won’t recognise their authority.  Accordingly you’ll need to see a notary in plenty of time; yes, we know it’s not exciting but the laws of other countries can be quite strict – it has happened before that a wedding in paradise has had to be postponed because the paperwork wasn’t in order.  Make sure that’s not you!  Don’t leave it to the last minute!

Once you have got married abroad you MUST keep your paperwork safe.  Whilst its relatively easy to get a duplicate copy of a UK marriage certificate, getting one from St Lucia or Mauritius isn’t always as straightforward, let alone quick or cheap.  Whilst you can’t register your foreign marriage with the UK Registry Office, some notaries will offer their own unofficial, informal, registration service as a back up in case your paperwork from overseas is lost.  Do ask for details if that’s required.

(And good luck!)