The Romance and Practicalities of a Destination Wedding

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC

Countless couples celebrate the romance of St. Valentine’s Day by getting engaged – and then the wedding planning begins. Increasingly, couples are choosing destination weddings in locations outside the United States. What they might not know is that marrying overseas can be a bit complicated. Why? Because in addition to the logistics of a destination wedding, there are important legal considerations.

The validity of a marriage is based on the law of the country where the marriage occurs, which may differ from those common in the United States. The U.S. State Department cautions, “The process of marrying overseas can be time-consuming and expensive. Procedures vary from country to country, and some require lengthy preparation. If you plan to marry in a foreign country, you should find out the requirements of that country before you travel.” The State Department provides helpful guidance for U.S. citizens marrying outside the United States at Marriage Abroad (

Then, there is the separate question of whether a marriage performed overseas will be recognized in the United States. This is a question of state law, but generally, U.S. states recognize marriages validly performed in other countries. Finally, there is the question of marital rights associated with the marriage, which can be affected by the law of the place of the marriage.

For the avoidance of doubt as to the validity of a marriage and its recognition in the United States, we recommend that couples consider a simple civil ceremony in the United States, followed by a separate celebration in the destination. And we recommend a premarital agreement to provide clarity as to the couple’s marital rights. Premarital agreements, which should be discussed and signed well before the wedding day, provide the opportunity for couples to have “money talks” and create transparency about finances and financial expectations prior to their marriage.

So, as we celebrate romance on St. Valentine’s Day, we are also mindful of the practical considerations to establishing the foundations of future marriages.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC

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