Destination wedding legalities - where to start? They will differ from country to country, so it’s important to do your research. Here’s our quick guide – find out more on and by contacting the civil registration office of the country you’re planning to marry in.

destination wedding legalities Image via Pedro Vilela


In Portugal, civil and Catholic ceremonies are the only legally recognised ceremonies and both should be conducted in Portuguese. Knowing that it's a good idea to hire an interpreter. If you’re opting for a Catholic ceremony, be mindful that once you’ve received approval from your chosen priest or church, the wedding must take place within three months.


If you’re Catholic, having a religious ceremony in Spain is relatively straightforward. In fact, a Catholic wedding is the only way to be legally married in Spain, if you don’t reside there. For other religions or civil ceremonies, you may have a blessing. The paperwork will have to be done at home, unless one of you is a Spanish citizen, as there is a two-year residency requirement. A good excuse for another party at home, we say!

destination wedding legalities Image via Paula O'Hara


In Italy, you are permitted to have civil, Catholic and same-sex ceremonies. While there’s no official residency requirement for civil ceremonies, Catholic ceremonies are not permitted in either Capri and Sorrento, if neither one of you are permanent residents. All original documents like passports and legal docs will need to be accompanied by Italian translations. Don’t apply for documents and certs more than six months before the wedding, as they’ll have expired under Italian regulations. Any documents will need to be presented to the town hall a number of days before the wedding, so plan to arrive at least two days in advance. If you’re using a planner, they’ll be able to do all of this for you.


Getting legally married in France isn’t as easy as other countries, unfortunately. In France, there is a 40-day residency requirement if you wish to have a civil ceremony. You and/or your partner must be living in France for a minimum of 30 days, plus an additional 10 days for paperwork. However, there may be ways of getting around this. For example, if you or a member of your family have property in France, the local Mayor may make an exception at their own discretion, but that’s not a guarantee. Religious ceremonies are not legally binding under French law, but you can, of course, have a civil ceremony at home and a beautiful blessing in France.

destination wedding legalities Image via Paula O'Hara


The great news is that getting married in Malta is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to register your intent to marry online, supplying specific information. You will also then have to appear in person beforehand at the Marriage Registry in Valetta, to confirm details and finalise matters. If your ceremony is taking place in Gozo, you’re advised to also contact Gozo Public Registry. Log on to for any further information you may need.


There are certain steps you’ll need to take when getting married in Slovenia – and bear in mind that, should you go down the religious route, you’ll need to have a civil ceremony first. Only a civil ceremony is considered valid in Slovenia. You’ll need to register the marriage in the town in which you wish to get married. You can do this from six months to two weeks ahead of your wedding (but, like all things, the sooner the better). They’ll need some documentation, too: original birth certificates, passports, a Certificate of Freedom to Marry. All documents not in Slovene need to be accompanied by a translation, done by a certified translator.

Image via Petar Jurica


Getting married in Croatia is pretty simple, but there are a few binding rules and regulations to bear in mind. If you’re having a religious ceremony, you’ll need proof that you've been legally married in a civil ceremony before. You don’t need to be resident in Croatia to get married there. However, you do need to make an appointment to meet the Maticar (registrar) a few days before your wedding. You'll need to have all your documentation to hand (and in Croatian), with originals, which can’t be more than 90 days old. Most ceremonies are in Croatian too, so you’ll need a translator for that.

Feature image via Charlene and Anthony's real wedding by Mario Colli Photography

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