Saying "I do" in a medieval church in Tuscany, or on a pristine beach in Negril, is a moment you'll never forget. About a quarter of weddings are destination weddings, meaning the couple’s getting married in a place that’s not one of their hometowns or where they currently live.1
Whichever wedding destination you choose, you and your spouse-to-be need travel insurance. Destination weddings cost $32,000, on average.2 While travel insurance can’t cover the expenses of the wedding itself, it can protect you with:
For American citizens, getting married abroad isn't as simple as showing up at the chapel. Every country has its own rules about paperwork, residency requirements and medical tests. Some places recognize same-sex marriages, while others don’t. When you're planning a destination wedding overseas, it's wise to consult the local U.S. consulate for guidance. While the consular officers can't officiate at your wedding, they can tell you what to expect.3
Is your overseas destination wedding legal in the United States? Unfortunately, there's no quick and easy answer. "In general, marriages which are legally performed and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States," according to FindLaw.4
The solution, in many cases, is to make your wedding ceremony a symbolic one and have the legal wedding performed in the United States. But if you're set on really getting married abroad, here are the requirements for three popular overseas wedding destinations: Mexico, Jamaica and Italy.5
There's no shortage of resorts that provide romantic beach weddings in Mexico. Wow your guests with a stay at the ultra-luxe, cliffside Resort at Pedregal on the Baja Peninsula. Or seek some solitude (and enjoy complimentary wedding services) at the Palace Resort in Cancun, Cozumel or Isla Mujeres.
Getting married in Mexico takes planning, however. If you and your spouse are both Americans, you're going to need all of these documents:6
Destination weddings in Mexico can't be rushed. The bride and groom should plan to arrive at least three days before the ceremony in order to get their medical tests. For your wedding to be recognized in the United States, you'll need to have the wedding certificate processed to receive an official apostille seal. It will then be mailed to your home address in a month or two.
Before you leave, you’ll also need to get travel insurance that includes emergency medical benefits. That’s because most hospitals in Mexico do not accept U.S. health insurance; instead, they require payment up front. Not only that, but “U.S. citizens have lodged numerous complaints against some private hospitals in Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and Cabo San Lucas to include exorbitant prices and inflexible collection measures,” the State Department warns.7 Consider the OneTrip Basic Plan, an affordable option that includes trip cancellation, emergency medical and emergency medical transportation benefits.
Getting married in Jamaica is a whole lot easier than getting married in Mexico, but there are still legal requirements to fulfill. At least two weeks before the wedding, the couple must obtain a license by contacting a Jamaican wedding planner or the Registrar General and providing some basic documents and information:8
All documents must be translated into English. No blood test is required, and marriages performed under Jamaican law are recognized as legal in the United States. To streamline the process, it's best to hire a local wedding coordinator — your resort may even have one on staff. Just give the coordinator plenty of time, ideally a few months, to organize everything.
Do you need travel insurance for Jamaica? Yes. The State Department strongly recommends insurance, because in Jamaica, “public health facilities do not meet U.S. standards. Private facilities require large up-front payments even in emergencies.”9 Medical evacuations can be extremely expensive as well, so consider protecting your Jamaica wedding trip with OneTrip Prime — our most popular plan for vacations.
If you're a meticulous planner who appreciates a challenge, try getting married in Italy. (If you're not this type of person, hire someone who is.) While a destination wedding in Italy can be the pinnacle of romance, it also requires a lengthy scavenger hunt. Here's what you need to do.10
Travel insurance for Italy is a must. You’ll need trip cancellation/interruption benefits, because your destination wedding travel won’t be cheap! You’ll also need emergency medical/emergency medical transportation benefits, as private hospitals require you to pay for all services up front and evacuations can be really expensive.11 We recommend the OneTrip Prime Plan, which gives you peace of mind for your long-awaited Italian wedding trip.
Whether you plan to get married overseas or in the U.S., don't forget to protect yourself and your soon-to-be spouse with travel insurance. We’ll help make sure your married life gets off to a great start, even if you run into a few travel hiccups on the way.