ADVICE - Some Useful Tips If You're Considering Getting Married In A Top European Destination

29th December 2019

Destination wedding tips for EuropeWaking up on your wedding day to a dreary, grey sky has got to be up there with one of the most annoying feelings -o of course, your day will be memorable all the same, but why couldn’t the weather be on your side for once?! Many couples dread this, and so they’re overhauling their plans for the big day - not forgetting their wedding rings of course and taking them to foreign shores. Weddings abroad are becoming more popular, and in recent years the number of couples tying the knot overseas has risen steadily.

You might have a dream setting in mind, but it is probably a good idea to check out whether there are any local regulations to follow in your wedding destination of choice. Here are a few which apply to some of the most popular locations to tie the knot. 


Destination wedding tips - SpainGet your pre-wedding glow started and take your ceremony to Spain, where Malaga, Palma, and the Cadiz countryside have hosted many stunning ceremonies. Most British couples will choose to have a civil ceremony at a registrar’s office in the UK, then travel to Spain and have their ceremony. Having all the necessary paperwork is a given, but you might be required to obtain proof that both parties are able to marry provided by your home country’s embassy. It could also be worthwhile to check how long the processing of documentation will take. If you are having a civil ceremony in Spain then there is an application process to account for and some Spanish registrar offices will require that you are in the country for as much as a month before your wedding day!

There are a few wedding conventions to account for in Spain, including having orange blossoms, the traditional flower which many Spanish brides choose as a symbol of fulfillment and happiness. Mantilla’s are also the headpiece of choice, a lace garment to consider adding to your outfit on the big day. Make sure you have enough room in your luggage for wedding favours, as it is customary for the new couple to greet guests after the ceremony with a little something to say thanks. Also, grooms heading off to marry in Spain shouldn’t be too precious with the tie they choose, as Spanish tradition dictates that the tie is a symbol of good luck and should be cut into pieces at the wedding reception, auctioned off to guests in the crowd. 

Also, make sure you have plenty of change handy - if you want to follow Spanish custom, then the husband will need to present his new wife with 13 gold coins, representing Jesus and his 12 apostles, but this also acts as a symbol of the promise of the groom to provide for the family. 


Destination wedding tips - FranceIn France, you can only legally marry in a civil ceremony at the local council office, the Mairi. A religious ceremony can follow this, but getting married in France can be difficult if you don’t have a clear connection to the country. The paperwork required for non-French nationals to marry in the country involves applying for a special dispensation, but this can be difficult to secure. Common requirements are that you or your partner have a link to the area by either living there or having a parent who lives there (since 2013). 

You’ll also have to commit to being in the country for a minimum of 30 days before you plan on tying the knot. You can’t avoid paperwork with weddings abroad, and in France you’ll need an Affidavit of Law, stating that you are able to marry and that the union will be recognised at home. At least 10 days before you wed, you’ll need to contact the Mairie and submit a marriage application, where documents will be supplied and stamped with an Apostille stamp. After the application passes, you’ll need to marry no less than 10 days and no more than 1 year after the application has qualified. Remember to apply to the Mairie again to receive your official wedding certificate! Alternatively, some couples choose to legally marry in their home country at a registrar’s office, then hold a religious or symbolic wedding in France at any venue. 

Some French churches will allow for an English-speaking priest to perform the service, ensuring that your all-important vows don’t get lost in translation. In terms of French custom, the tables turn in France and the groom walks his mother down the aisle before greeting his wife-to-be! There are also no bridesmaids or groomsmen in the French tradition, with only witnesses required. Keep the drinks flowing and opt to have a classic French champagne tower — we’re sure your guests will enjoy this! The French also have a way to help fend off that impending hangover, and the solution is by serving onion soup to your guests later in the night. 


Destination wedding tips - ItalyThousands of Brits are flocking to the picturesque Italian countryside to confirm their love with a magical wedding ceremony bathed in sunshine. The Amalfi Coast, Umbria, and Venice are all popular choices for couples looking to add a quintessentially Italian charm to their special day.

You can hold a legally recognised civil ceremony or a religious ceremony in Italy, and symbolic/humanist weddings are also allowed in the country. Although Catholicism is the dominant religion in Italy, weddings of all faiths are acknowledged. In non-Catholic cases, a civil ceremony must be an element of the marriage ceremony to confirm legality. There are no residency requirements in Italy, but as per the required documentation is mandatory — the Affidavit is a standard requirement, stating that there is no legal impediment of your marriage in your home country. If your partner happens to be an Italian citizen, then you also won’t need to apply for a visa to get hitched. An Atto Notorio is required in Italy though, and this will need to be signed by two witnesses. 

At least three weeks before you intend to marry, you will need to submit a 'declaration of intent to marry' to the local marriage office in the city’s town hall. After you have done so, you can officially set the date! Once again, an Apostille stamp will be used to verify your marriage license in law, and you can then relax and enjoy plenty of Italy’s finest produce - wine! 

In terms of traditions to follow, take heed of the Italian’s belief that Sunday is a day of good fortune, perfect for weddings! Pack a satin pouch and invite guests to exchange money for a dance with the star of the show, and then get everyone up and moving to the ‘tarantella’, the notorious ‘dance of the spider’. Vase breaking is also a traditional custom in some parts of Italy, as the number of pieces it breaks into are regarded as symbols of many happy years of marriage. 

So, fulfilling your dream of a wedding abroad is possible, but just ensure that you’ve planned in advance — and if you want to feel like a local, then add a unique twist to your big day by following one of the traditions of the area!

Useful Resources:

Previous Blog Post


Search Green Union

Type in your search terms and click ENTER / RETURN to search our website.

Wedding Blog Tags

GU IntroductionsWedding VenuesWedding AdviceGU Partner Focus

Wedding Directory

AccessoriesBride and Bridesmaid DressesCakes and CateringCelebrants

Wedding Advice

1. Getting Started - Wedding Budget - Wedding Planning Tips - Your Timeline