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Having an overseas wedding can offer the benefits of an exotic location, and also double as a vacation for newlyweds and their guests. But before an overseas wedding takes place, the planning must take into account legal requirements, cultural barriers and currency exchange rates in other countries.
The following considerations can help couples navigate the process of planning a destination wedding.
Before choosing a location, it is important to research any legal requirements a country may have regarding the marriage of foreigners. For example, "In the Bahamas, you need to be there at least 48 hours before your ceremony," says Melissa Pride-Fahs, director of marketing and customer engagement at DestinationWeddings.com. "You also need to go to the Office of the Registrar General and show your birth certificate, as well as other documentation regarding previous marriages, etc., if applicable. Then you need an Apostille (special seal) after the wedding on your marriage license."
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Once a location has been chosen, it's important to remember that the wedding party and guests will need a way to get around from the hotel, the ceremony venue, rehearsal dinner or any other planned activities. In an unfamiliar place, it can be difficult to judge which forms of transportation or transportation companies will be the most efficient, safe and reliable. JoAnn Gregoli, owner and bridal consultant at Elegant Occasions, a New Jersey-based destination wedding planning company, suggests contacting the country's office of tourism for possible transportation options. "You will be able to get really good, reputable companies that will be able to transport you," she says.
Even when engaged couples are working with English-speaking wedding planners, there is still room for misinterpretation. "In Italy, if you say you want an open bar, to them, that is usually just wine," Gregoli says. "If you want hard liquor drinks, that becomes a whole new ball game."
Gregoli suggests writing up a very specific contract, detailing what is expected for each component of the wedding. In addition, she says it is important to arrive a few days early and meet with the wedding planner and staff to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Be aware of any hidden international transaction fees or currency exchange fees when planning a wedding, because they can add up fast, Gregoli says.
Couples can benefit by making international payments with the help of a trusted online foreign exchange service, which typically have low markups on foreign fund transfers. And because online foreign exchange providers can offer fast and efficient bank-to-bank money transfers, it's easy to send international payments from a computer, tablet or mobile device. In addition, these services may provide relevant resources such as a free currency converter or email market-rate alerts to help couples capture their preferred exchange rates.
Both Pride-Fahs and Gregoli also encourage couples to obtain travelers insurance for overseas weddings, which typically covers airfare, hotels and cars.
"We had a hurricane [in Anguilla] once and it disrupted everything," Gregoli says. "We were able to reschedule the wedding and get all the deposits back."
That kind of security, combined with a well-researched location, can mean the difference between wedding stress and wedding bliss.
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