The cost of getting married is skyrocketing. An average wedding in Australia currently costs $36,200, the majority of which goes to venue, food and alcohol ($16,683). Next comes clothing and accessories ($4,271), photography ($3,983), flowers and décor ($2,896), entertainment ($2,896) and miscellaneous expenses that include car, accommodation, hair and makeup and stationery ($2,534). The actual ceremony cost is $941. And that’s just for the wedding. The cost of the honeymoon is not yet factored in (IBISWorld Industry Report X002 – Weddings in Australia April 2012)
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It is no wonder that many couples now opt to go on a destination wedding, which combines the enjoyment of finally getting married, having their honeymoon and an extended vacation in a distant, exotic place, all at the same time. Of course it could be because they want to avoid seeing some people that are likely to attend their wedding, but that’s beside the point. The average cost of a destination wedding today is about $15,000, which is such a bargain and less of a headache, as wedding packages include all the wedding trimmings and the preparation. When having a wedding overseas, only the couple’s trip is paid for by the bride and groom. Those attending will have to pay for their own travel expenses, so they can limit the number of guests as well, making their wedding a more intimate affair. The couple can choose the best time of the year, when the weather will be fully cooperative.
Planning for a wedding overseas should take around three months, although you can plan it for close to 18 months, paying for the whole package little by little, with the help of the venue or the wedding planner.
Still, to prevent your wedding from morphing from a dream wedding to a hellish one, you have to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable venue/wedding planner, which you can do in Australia or through a resort in your wedding destination. And here are some recommended places for you to say “I do, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…”
This country has tropical climate, so the weather can be hot and humid or balmy, depending on the season. Best times for a wedding in Thailand are during the months of November until February. It is also the peak season so expect heavier crowds. Still there are plenty of venues where you can have some peace and quiet. Laguna Phuket is one of the major choices, with a white chapel on stilts above the water. Seating capacity is limited to 50 in the non-denominational church, but that’s fine, right? Katathani Beach is available for outdoor ceremonies. There is also a Secret Garden on the side of the beach. Do you want to receive a Thai blessing from a baby elephant? That can be arranged.
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One of the best venues is Koh Samui’s Coconut Island. Weather here is drier so it’s a better option. Western wedding packages are offered by Sareeya Villas and Suites. Or you can check out their traditional Buddhist package. Another venue is Le Meridien Koh Samui Resort and Spa, with its 224 metre-long floating pier that can host about 70 guests if you go for a cocktail reception.
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Although Hawaii enjoys tropical weather, it is best to have your wedding ceremony there from December to April. Schedule it during weekdays to avoid the weekend crowd especially if you are having a beach wedding. Best place to have it is in the Island of Maui, which has better facilities and beaches than Oahu, which is known for its party scene. For adventuresome couples, have it in Kauai but if you want it more private, go to Lanai. Off-season but still worth considering are the months of September until mid-December, where you can avail of lower rates. You can have a traditional wedding with white gowns and tuxedos, but if you want to imbibe the Hawaiian spirit, then wear something less formal, even if you want to wear white. It’s easy to tailor fit your wedding ceremonies to your liking and in different settings. For some of the best beach wedding and extraordinary venues, check out the Lanikuhonua Cultural Center at Ko Olina or the Royal Hawaiian Pink Palace in Oahu or the Kealakekua Bay on the Kona coast of the Big Island and have some dolphins witness your ceremony as well. Another great place in Oahu is the Dillingham Ranch, located on the Mokuleia Beach. Sparkling white sand underneath your feet is something worth remembering when you are in Makua Beach, Kauai or you might want to do it in a pebble-and-coral beach at the historical Olowalu Plantation House at Hekili Point and face the great view of Lanai and Kahoolawe.
Hotels and resorts in Las Vegas offer awesome wedding packages, complete with other built-in activities. There are also plenty of stand-alone chapels. But if you are after something more modern, funky and stylish, and at the same time out of the ordinary, wedding consultants in Las Vegas offers plenty of new choices. The most expensive is at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, although there are other venues that are also impressive but less costly, such as the CityCentre which has three hotels – Aria, Vdara and Cosmopolitan. Aria has its own wedding chapel. Gorgeous landscapes and waterscapes are great wedding backdrops at Vdara and Aria, while modern art is the main feature at the Cosmopolitan. If you want a Miami-feel, the Rumor Boutique Hotel is the place. A tropical wedding setting in the desert – that’s what you’ll have indoor or outdoor at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
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For a non-gaming venue where you can have a pool top ceremony with a Lucite catwalk ad rooftop cocktail reception, visit the Platinum Hotel. If you want to be wed amid modern installations and fixtures, you can have it at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts or at the ultra-modern Las Vegas World Market Center.
September and October are the best months for wedding ceremonies in Las Vegas as the weather will just be perfect.
Bali is one of the top choices for overseas wedding, especially from May to October. The Balinese are very friendly. The island has several cliff-top villas and beachfront resorts that offer plenty of venues for intimate, outdoor or beach weddings. It is almost impossible to run out of choices when you are in Bali. One of the top favourites is Legian Bali in Seminyak, where you can have a white wedding at the resort’s beach house or have a sunset garden wedding while gazing at the beauty of the Indian Ocean at dusk. Just think of how splendid your wedding will be when the bride gets escorted by eight Balinese girls wearing gold and white traditional costumes.
Villa Infinity Bali another good choice where you will have mountains and rice terraces as your wedding backdrop. However, there is a minimum stay policy here and you need to hire an independent wedding planner for all the preparations.
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The Ayana Resort and Spa at Jimbaran Bay has seven wedding venues. You can have your wedding in a Balinese glass chapel, or have it outside beneath 2,000 blooming white plumeria (frangipani) trees. You can opt to have just the two of you for a truly intimate wedding on a private jetty. The resort has their own wedding planners so you do not have to do any other searches.
The Greek Islands
The awesome views of the Aegean Sea, the Volcano, Caldera Bay and Caldera are what lure couples to have their wedding in Santorini where the perfect schedule is from June to September. Best venue is the terrace at Dana Villas, where you can have a simply stunning sunset wedding. In Crete you can have 5-star luxury at the Porto Elounda De Luxe Resort or the Elounda Mare for a poolside wedding. The St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel has a private beach that is an ideal location. You might fancy a wedding by the lake at Aghios Nikolaos. These venues can arrange everything for you including documentation.
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Fancy getting married below the Acropolis of Lindos? Then your choice is the Melenos Lindos in Rhodes. You can have your wedding at the picturesque Chapel of Saint Dimitrios or at the hotel’s very ornate garden.
Some technical issues
There are some countries that require foreign nationals, including Australians to present a Certificate of No Impediment before they can get married overseas to ensure that they can legally marry and do not have a de facto partner in Australia or are already married.
There are two things here. Some countries will accept this document issued by the Australian consulate or embassy in the country where you want to get married. However, there are also countries that require that the certificate should be issued in Australia. If this is the case, you have to fill out the application form for this document and return it to the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in your territory or state. Present your passport, documents indicating your nationality, date of birth and proof of residency in Australia. You should do this before you go to the country where you are planning to have your wedding.
For same-sex marriage overseas, the Attorney General has announced that Australians can now apply for Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage so they can get married overseas and have their marriage recognised in that country. In Australia however, it will only be considered as evidence of a de facto relationship when it comes to the laws of the Territory, State and Commonwealth.
Heterosexual marriages done overseas are recognised in Australia, provided that your marriage was recognised as valid in the country where the marriage took place at the time and date when it was officiated and that it would be valid under Australian law if the marriage was done in Australia.
You do not need to register your marriage that had taken place overseas once you come back to Australia. The prima facie evidence for occurrence and validity of the marriage will be the foreign marriage certificate. However, this does not mean that your foreign spouse will automatically be granted entry to Australia. You still have to consult with the immigration authorities for this.
One last note. You have to apply for a marriage license in each of these countries, which may have different requirements, including the translation of your documents and certificates in the local language before it gets translated back to English. Do check out the requirements for each location and get information from your wedding planner.