A Guide to Destination Weddings Post-Lockdown
The world is beginning to emerge from the widespread travel ban brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. Countries are set to reopen their borders to travellers from the UK and beyond. Flights are set to become increasingly available. This has prompted many couples to feel more optimistic about their honeymoon or to start looking into an overseas wedding.
Due to the high increase in Coronavirus cases and the new variant of the virus across the UK, many countries have closed their borders to those travelling from the UK for the time being. This blog is currently under construction and will be fully updated after lockdown. For the latest information on travelling abroad from the UK, please refer to government guidance.
What is a travel corridor?
Travel corridors are agreements that allow flights between two nations where the outbreak is under control. This means that you do not have to self-isolate on arrival in England if these are the only places you have been to or stopped in during the previous 14 days. The requirements for entry into the countries on the list of approved destinations will vary. The list has been drawn up based on the perceived safety of that country and its anti-COVID measures. It will be subject to frequent review.
The announcement has also convinced insurance companies to start changing their stance. Many were not covering trips abroad, as they were being strict about what they deemed necessary travel. Even so, it is worth being cautious and double-checking. If you are heading to the continent and have a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), make sure you take it.
Popular wedding destinations
There are certain countries which are always incredibly popular with couples looking for a wedding abroad. Currently, some of these are open to visitors from the UK, others are not. We have included all popular countries, regardless of their current status, so you can make an informed decision as to your destination.
An overseas wedding is so appealing, a perfectly romantic way to start a life together. Here, we take a look at some of the most popular destinations, when they’ll be reopening, and any COVID-19 protocols which have been put in place.
With the stunning rural areas, beautiful sweeping beaches, or charming towns such as Canberra, a small but cosmopolitan city with a great food and art scene, Australia is an increasingly popular destination for weddings.
Unfortunately, Australian borders are currently closed. Only Australian citizens and returning permanent residents and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia without an exemption until further notice. Anyone entering Australia needs to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility, such as a hotel, immediately upon arrival. So, you might need to postpone an Australian wedding for now!
When you are eventually able to travel to Australia for a wedding again, the process is relatively simple. There is no residency requirement before you can be wed in Australia. So, all you need to do is organise a Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) before you travel to Australia. This needs to be done between 1-6 months before the date of your wedding.
The Caribbean remains the most popular part of the world for destination weddings. With beautiful clear blue water and sandy beaches, the Caribbean islands make idyllic and romantic locations to say ‘I do’. Each has its own personality and unique culture. So. it’s worth looking at the options and choosing the right island for you. However, these are some of the more popular choices…
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda are one of the most popular destinations for overseas weddings. The twin-island nation boasts some of the most beautiful vistas in the Caribbean. Many stunning buildings remain from the colonial era, giving couples many incredible venues. In fact, Antigua and Barbuda have been voted as the Caribbean’s most romantic destination for the past 5 years. It’s certainly easy to see why!
The nation was among the first in the Caribbean to reopen its borders. However, entry to the islands is still restricted. Visitors may be subject to a Coronavirus test on arrival. The local authorities may instruct you to enter government-provided quarantine or to self-quarantine in your accommodation. Also, a State of Emergency is in place until 31 October and is likely to be extended.
In order to get married in the country, you need to have a licence. There are two types of licence which couples can receive. An ordinary licence requires a fifteen-day residency period on the island. A special licence can be granted immediately but at a greater cost. Couples will also need two witnesses, both over the age of 18. If it’s just the two of you, it’s usually easy to find two friendly faces to volunteer as witnesses.
The Bahamas is an incredibly popular wedding destination due to its sunny weather and mesmerising blue waters. There are 30 inhabited islands in the Bahamian archipelago plus some stunning deserted cays. Each of these offers couples different but equally-enticing scenery to provide the perfect backdrop for their wedding. Check out the Bahamas Tourist Board to learn more about having a romantic, destination wedding day in this beautiful country.
The Bahamas was removed from the government’s travel corridor list on August 8th. If you arrive in England from the Bahamas after 4am, 8th August, you will need to self-isolate
When it comes to the legal requirements for getting married in the Bahamas, a licence can be obtained after just a one-day residency period for a standard fee. Couples will need birth certificates, their passports and photo ID, as well as proof of their date of arrival. Further paperwork is also needed if you are divorced or widowed.
Barbados has a bit of everything, from a famously chilled-out vibe to thriving nightlife! So, whether you want pure relaxation on a sandy beach or something more adventurous, Barbados is a romantic and thrilling wedding destination.
Barbados designates the UK as a high-risk country. Travellers from the UK must arrive with a negative PCR test taken by a certified or accredited laboratory within 3 days of arrival. On arrival, you will be required to quarantine at government approved facilities , and undertake a further test 4-5 days after the first accepted negative test. If this second test is negative you will no longer be subject to quarantine.
As with most of the other Caribbean nations, it’s reasonably easy to get married in Barbados. It’s important to try and make the arrangements with a priest or marriage official as soon as you can. You and your partner will need various papers, including passports for both of you and your two witnesses, and non-residents need to pay a licence fee.
Croatia’s popularity as a holiday and wedding destination has increased in recent years. The country boasts some absolutely outstanding locations on the Adriatic Sea, and visitors rarely return without tales of how incredibly beautiful it is.
Croatia was removed from the travel corridor list on Saturday 22nd August. So, if you arrive in England from Croatia, you will need to self-isolate.
Civil ceremonies are the only type of legally-binding weddings recognised in Croatia. Also, if either you or your partner do not speak Croatian, then a court-appointed translator must be present. There is no minimum residency requirement, but you must have all the requisite paperwork, as well as copies which have been translated into Croatian by the relevant authorities.
Cyprus is an Eastern Mediterranean gem of a destination. It shares much in common with nearby countries, such as Greece, including delicious seafood, turquoise waters and fascinating history. The island is also famed for its romantic atmosphere, helped by the presence of Aphrodite’s Rock in Paphos, said to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love.
The FCDO advises against all non-essential travel to Cyprus and was removed from the travel list on November 1st.
In order to be legally wed in Cyprus, you can apply for either one of two marriage licences. The first type is a standard licence which allows you to get married between 15 days and 3 months of your application. The second option is to apply for a licence in the municipality in which you wish to get married. This costs more, and requires a 3-day residency period, excluding weekends and the day of your arrival. However, it takes less time for this to be processed. Both methods require paperwork, and for you to fill in declarations.
The incredible diversity of different destinations in France makes it a great choice for an overseas wedding. Whether you wish to wed in the romantic surroundings of Paris, the spectacular setting of the Alps or on the relaxing Riviera, you won’t be short of choice for your dream destination wedding. Once you add in the cuisine and the culture, it’s easy to see why this is considered one of the most romantic countries!
From August 15th, the government advised against all but essential travel to France. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks. France went into national lockdown on Thursday 29th October.
Unfortunately, the legalities of getting married in France are far from so straightforward. There are a number of time-consuming and sometimes complicated steps involved. So, we recommend having your official wedding at home and then travelling to France for your post-wedding celebration.
Greece’s unique history and mythology help to create a wonderfully romantic atmosphere which enchants couples from all over the world. There are over 250 inhabited islands in the Greek archipelago. The diversity of the culture only adds to the appeal of Greece as a potential wedding destination. Also, the stunning weather, relaxed Mediterranean charm, wonderful cuisine and breathtaking scenery make it easy to fall in love with Greece.
The FCDO continues to advise against all but essential travel to Mykonos. If you are returning to the UK from Mykonos you will need to self-isolate on your return. Mainland Greece and all other Greek islands are exempt from the FCDO’s advice against all non-essential international travel. The requirement to self-isolate on return to England, Wales and Northern Ireland from Crete will be lifted for those arriving on or after 4am on 18 October. The Scottish Government will also lift the requirement to self isolate for those returning to Scotland on or after 4am on 18 October from all of Greece except Mykonos.
If you are returning to the UK from Mykonos you will need to self-isolate on your return. Every traveller, including children, must have their details included on a PLF. Anyone entering Greece may be asked to undergo a test for COVID-19, and required to quarantine in an accommodation provided by the Greek authorities, until advised otherwise.
As for the legalities of a wedding in Greece, no residency period is required. However, just as with Spain, there is a lot of paperwork and forward planning involved. For example, the issuing of a marriage licence can take months. Therefore, again, we recommend that you have a legally-binding wedding in the UK, and then head to Greece for a more elaborate ceremony.
With beautiful Irish castles, rustic barns and chic country houses, Ireland offers some magical wedding venues. From romantic, idyllic settings to wild rural beauty, Ireland is an enchanting wedding destination.
Currently, all visitors to Ireland are asked to restrict your movement for 14 days upon arrival. This means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. You will also need to complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form. This form can be used by health authorities to contact you to verify your location in the country. It will also help contact tracers get in touch with you if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus on your flight or ferry. Also, wearing face coverings on public transport and in shops is mandatory. Level 3 is currently in force for the whole of Ireland, full details on the restrictions in place are on the Irish Government’s Website.
There is a relatively simple process to getting married in Ireland. At least 3 months before the wedding, you need to notify registrar notifying of your intention to marry. You also need to reside in Ireland for at least 15 days prior to your wedding. You will then have to meet with the relevant registrar in Ireland to sort all the necessary paperwork. This includes a Marriage Registration Form (MRF).
Italy’s sun, sea, style and sumptuous cuisine make this country a magical wedding destination. With beautiful countryside and dazzling coastlines, Italy is one of the most gorgeous and romantic places on the planet.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all non-essential travel to Italy, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks in the country. If you are returning to the UK from Italy on or after 4am on 18 October, you will need to self-isolate on your return.
Once again, the actual process for having a legally-binding wedding in Italy is complicated and can be time-consuming. Therefore, just as is the case with Greece and Spain, it’s best to have a simple legal ceremony in the UK and then let loose with the wedding of your dreams in Italy.
As a Mediterranean country, Malta has all of the things that make an appealing wedding destination. The sun, the sea and the relaxed atmosphere are perfect for couples seeking an idyllic overseas wedding. Whether you choose to wed on the main island, or either of its two other inhabited islands, you can be sure that Malta will provide you with a wonderful wedding day.
From August 15th, the government advises against all but essential travel to Malta. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks. If you are returning to the UK from Malta on or after 15 August, you may need to self-isolate on your return.
If you wish to be legally married in Malta, you must apply for the licence between 6 weeks and 3 months prior to your chosen date. There is no minimum residency requirement, and all of the paperwork and the ceremony can be in English. As well as your pre-wedding application, you will need to visit the relevant authority on arrival to Malta.
New Zealand is an incredibly mystical and magical country. So, where better to begin the ultimate romantic adventure? Widely considered to be one of the most spectacular environments in the world, the island nation has plenty in the way of amazing views, as well as a rich and wonderful culture, making it a great place to say ‘I do’.
At present, although people flying to England from New Zealand will not need to quarantine, travel into the country is highly restricted. Border controls have always been tight anyway, owing largely to New Zealand’s diverse and delicate ecosystem, but the pandemic has seen an even stricter set of requirements put in place. So, it may be some time before couples from the UK can get married in New Zealand.
It is fairly easy to get legally married in New Zealand. You don’t need to be a citizen, and there are very few barriers to obtaining a marriage licence. If you have been married before, you will need documentation to show that the previous arrangement has ended. Other than that the process is relatively simple.
Norway might not be the most obvious option for a destination wedding. However, Norway’s appeal lies in its stunning natural beauty. From gorgeous fjords to spectacular mountains, you won’t be short of staggering scenery for your wedding, making Norway one of the most picturesque places on Earth to get married.
From 15 July, Norway is allowing entry for those residents in most Schengen or EU/EEA countries. Until the end of the year, this includes the UK. Travellers normally resident in the UK may enter Norway but as of midnight on 21st August, you are now required to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
Quite a lot of paperwork is required in order to get legally married in Norway, and it can take 5 or 6 weeks of processing. So, if you are looking to have a legal ceremony in the country, you will need to check that you have the required documents and allow plenty of time before the wedding.
Spain has been a long-time favourite destination of British holidaymakers. Engaged couples are no exception! The nation’s rich culture, amazing architecture and diverse range of holiday opportunities all increase its allure. Of course, the gorgeous weather and sandy beaches certainly help!
Spain was removed from the exempt list on Sunday 26 July 2020. If you arrive in England from Spain on or after 26 July, you will need to self-isolate. A small number of local outbreaks of COVID-19 have been identified in Spain since the end of the State of Alarm. One of those outbreaks has affected parts of Catalonia, where local authorities have asked residents only to leave their accommodation for essential activities. Gatherings of more than 10 people in public or private are prohibited. The authorities have ordered the closures of nightclubs, gyms, and restrictions to the capacity and opening hours of bars and restaurants. These measures will be in place until 1 August. Also, face coverings are mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old on all forms of public transport and in many other indoor and outdoor public spaces.
The actual process for getting married in Spain is lengthy and requires a lot of paperwork. Especially if neither of you has completed a two-year residency period in the country! It may be easier for you to have a legal ceremony in the UK before having a more symbolic celebration in Spain.
Visit the UK Government website for more information about getting married overseas, as well as any impact that the pandemic might have on your travel plans.
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