As June approaches, wedding planners worldwide are noting a steady increase in couples who chose to jet away from the UK to insure a memorable and sunny wedding day. According to recent ONS figures, around 600,000 people a year marry in Britain and over 400,000 couples have exchanged vows abroad in the last two years. Nearly one in four couples marry overseas and the trend towards foreign weddings often results in a significant savings. Consumer surveys put the average cost of a wedding in Britain at more than £17,000 when the dress, reception and honeymoon are totalled. In comparison, overseas weddings averaged £6,500. According to a poll by YouGov, the total amount spent on foreign weddings in the past two years was £1.7 billion, making it a sizeable section of the travel industry.

Some see the opportunity to avoid 'annoying’ relatives as an added bonus to the savings, though the trend towards more overseas weddings, in combination with lower airfares means friends and family are most often included. Two million guests were invited to foreign weddings in the past two years.

 

What preparations should be made before marrying abroad?

These legal and financial details should be addressed in advance, insuring couples who exchange vows abroad can enjoy their special event:

·        Find the correct documentation

Each country requires its own specific documentation that couples must bring in order to be permitted to marry. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) suggests couples consult the destination country’s embassy in the UK to find out what documents are necessary. Ireland requires couples to present a certificate of no Impediment issued by the FCO. Some documents will need to be legalized so it’s suggested that this process be initiated as far in advance of the nuptials as possible.

·        A British marriage certificate isn't issued for those married abroad

The certification from the country where the marriage occurred will be legally recognized, however, and can be deposited with the General Records Office in case copies of the document are needed in future.

·        A foreign marriage is legally valid in the UK

The UK recognises a foreign marriage (or civil partnership) so long as it was legally valid in the country in which it took place, and also provided it would have been permitted (persons not closely related, etc.) in the UK.

·        Medical examinations and blood tests

Many countries require couples to have medical examinations and blood tests before they will be permitted to marry.

·        Make the most of savings with Foreign Currency Exchange

Wedding abroad necessitates exchanging Sterling for the currency of the destination country. Making the most of the savings means using a foreign exchange company to move the money into the euros, dollars, rand or rupees. Travel money shouldn't be left to the last minute and travel money cards will also save the bride, groom and guests unnecessary fees when celebrating a holiday wedding.

Where are the top destinations for couples to marry in 2016?

These seven locations range from highly affordable to those with eye watering price tags for luxury while all share sunny scenic backdrops to insure that the weddings photos are as unforgettable as the special day.

1) Bermuda retains its Britishness and is more formal and elegant than the Caribbean. Flights are also more affordable than to the Caribbean islands with which Bermuda shares the same stunning pink sand beaches. A golf-lover’s paradise with eight courses, the island offers resort weddings along private beaches.

2) Croatia is seen as a yet to be discovered gem with tiny islands scattered along the magnificent coastline, where couples can marry in hillside castles with stunning backdrop views. Historic old towns, like Dubrovnik offer gourmet wedding reception fare at an excellent value.

3) Cyprus, Aphrodite’s island of love, is a popular short haul wedding destination that offers all-inclusive wedding packages and yacht weddings. One of the few destinations in Europe that allows couples to wed without waiting a week after arriving, the island has affordable flights from the UK. An example of the savings is seen in one resort offering a seven-night all-inclusive honeymoon including flights and private transfers for £1,753 per couple with the wedding itself costing an additional £1,060.

4) Sri Lanka is a good value and where else can a couple have rice pelted upon them as they ride off on an elephant? Resort packages include exotic, traditional blessings sung by local girls at resorts that offer free standard wedding packages. A two-week all-inclusive stay can run as low as £2,400 per couple. An example of the range of national legal variations is Sri Lanka’s not permitting couples to wed until they have been in the country for at least five working days.

5) Key West is only one of Florida’s wedding destinations, but it stands out  for its charm. The laid back tropical location with its iconic pastel coloured architecture is small enough to feel intimate but busy enough to offer honeymooners plenty to do. The party starts at the daily sunset celebration at Mallory Square and continues along Duval Street, with exceptional restaurants tucked all over the island.

6) A safari in South Africa or Kenya are the ultimate destinations for wild wedding adventure travel. Resorts in wine country or on gorgeous game reserves are among the choices for those couples seeking an untraditional place to wed. Virgin limited edition retreats offer guests wedding packages that can include African musicians and dancing for a unique first dance.

7) Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands has hosted its owner, Sir Richard Branson’s wedding and the island is just now available as a wedding venue. 33 guests can be accommodated on the island but as many as 200 can be invited to a wedding and offered accommodation on other nearby islands,  if the couple prefers privacy after the nuptials.

The private luxury island is not everyone’s cuppa for a honeymoon destination, though. It was offered to Prince William and Kate, but they picked the Maldives after a rather …remarkable UK wedding.