Pros and Cons of Destination Weddings

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant ©
Categories: | Wedding Planning |
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Just Validly Married Sign on the back of
                          a red car. Decorated with swathes of cream
                          tulle, and white flowersHave you dreamed of getting married on a tropical island, surrounded by palm trees and white sand? Or in a romantic castle in a far-off land?

A destination wedding can be a magical way to celebrate your love and tie the knot, but they come with some unique challenges, not the least of which can be navigating the legal requirements both at home and abroad and dealing with the fact that, for your guests, your destination wedding can be expensive and inconvenient.

On the plus side, destination weddings are a great way to sidestep  pressure to adhere to traditional wedding customs and practices, and to spread cultural awareness and appreciation.

So sit back, grab a piña colada, and come with me as I explore the pros and cons of both legal and non-legal destination weddings.

But first, the legal considerations


Generally speaking, Australia recognises the marriage when Australian citizens or residents marry in other country, as long as your marriage complies with Australian laws around marriages. In other words:
  • You are both at least 18 on the day of the wedding
  • You are not closely related to one another by blood or adoption
  • You are both free to marry, that is, not married to anyone else
  • You are freely and willingly consenting to the marriage

So yes, your destination marriage will be recognised, but that's not the only thing you need to consider

  • While your marriage will be recognised, it won't be registered in Australia, therefore you won't be able to change your name "by marriage". You will need to change your name legally, which is a challenge in itself:
    • While changing your name "by marriage" is free, a legal name change has to be applied for and paid for, and there can be a considerable waiting period
    • It has some residence conditions attached
    • There are limitations on how often you can change your name
    • It retrospectively changes the name on your birth certificate
  • There could well be a long list of additional legal requirements for marrying at your destination. These can involve
    • Having to apply for a special visa to allow you to enter the country for the purpose of getting legally married
    • Being required to live in the country, region, or area for a period of time before the wedding
    • Medical requirements, like certificates or blood tests
    • Additional paperwork
    • Religious requirements
None of the above would be a concern if you are planning a non-legal or symbolic wedding, which many people do, choosing to marry legally here in Australia first.

The Pros - all the benefits of destination weddings


  • Destination weddings are exciting, and fun
    Destination weddings are a fun and exciting way to celebrate your love with your closest friends and family. They offer a group holiday with all of your favourite people, making it a memorable experience for everyone involved. Additionally, your guests can extend their trip beyond those few days to plan their own holiday at the destination.
  • Destination weddings are inclusive for families who are scattered
    Destination weddings can be inclusive for families that don't all live in the same area, or even the same country, as they provide an opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate in a new and exciting location. This is especially important for couples who come from different cultural backgrounds, as it allows them to spread cultural appreciation and knowledge while celebrating their love.
  • Destination weddings are great if you want a child-free wedding
    Destination weddings give couples a great reason to stipulate that their wedding is child-free. Many locations are not child-friendly, giving you the perfect excuse to  ensure that your guests can fully enjoy the experience without having to worry about their children.
  • Destination weddings spread cultural awareness and appreciation
    Experiencing first hand how other cultures celebrate weddings is a great way to develop greater appreciation of cultural diversity, and include cultural customs without doing so being seen as appropriation. A destination wedding can also be a spectacular choice if the two of you come from different cultural traditions and your destination wedding allows cultural immersion in the culture of one of you. But don't forget you can honour your different cultures by having a fusion wedding at home.
  • Destination weddings allow you to consolidate costs
    Instead of having to plan separate events for pre-wedding celebrations such as hen's nights, a destination wedding facilitates planning a more condensed list of events that happen in rapid success. This saves time, money, and effort.

The Cons - all the disadvantages of destination weddings


  • Destination weddings are expensive for guests
    One of the biggest downsides of having a destination wedding is that it can be expensive for guests. This is because they will have to pay for their travel expenses, accommodations, and other related costs. This can be a significant burden for guests who may not have the financial means to attend the wedding.
  • Your guest list will be limited
    Destination weddings typically involve a smaller guest list, which means that not everyone you want to invite may be able to attend. This can be a difficult decision because you may have to choose between having a smaller, more intimate wedding or a larger wedding with more guests.
  • Planning a destination wedding can be stressful
    Planning a destination wedding involves coordinating with vendors and venues in a location that you may not be familiar with. This can be especially difficult if you there are communication issues because you do not speak the local language. In addition, lack of familiarity with local customs, traditions, commercial realities, and legal requirements, can create misunderstandings or result in a less than optimal outcome.
  • Just as at home, weather can be a problem
    Destination weddings are often held in tropical areas prone to extreme weather events, and outdoors. Sorting out a Plan B can be difficult.
  • Traveling to your wedding will increase your carbon footprint

Destination wedding - yeah or nay?


Only you can decide. The important thing is to make sure you are in possession of all the facts about marrying at the destination of your choice before you flash your credit card and commit.

Thanks for reading! And if you plan to have a destination wedding overseas, let's talk about how I can help simplify the legal side of things with a legals only,  Married in a Minute signing ceremony here at home.

Click to contact Jennifer
                  Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
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