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The Fine Print: Making it Legal

United States Even though the only paperwork you'll need to get married in America is a birth certificate and, if relevant, proof of divorce, application processing times vary—so be sure to check with the county courthouse ahead of time.

Caribbean The requirements for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are the same as stateside. On Barbados and Grand Cayman you can marry once you arrive, but on Anguilla you'll need three days. See www.marrycaribbean.com for country specifics.

Mexico Even if your Spanish is perfecto, you'll want a coordinator to help translate these requirements, which vary by district—and by judge. In Puerto Vallarta, for instance, couples are required to view a pre-wedding video that is shown once a week (although you can pay for a private viewing). Get help from your planner or resort, or a specialist like Weddings on the Move (800/444-6967; www.idoweddings.com).

Europe No matter where you marry on the Continent, it's wise to get help with the bureacracy. One sticking point is the residency requirements: while you can wed right away in Scotland, Greece, or Italy, you'll have to spend 15 days in Ireland before getting hitched. Luckily, many hotels and resorts have coordinators on staff to guide you through the gauntlet.

Africa Perhaps because their legal requirements are the simplest, South Africa and Kenya are the most popular African wedding destinations. Neither has a residency requirement, although in Kenya the paperwork can take three weeks to process. Many safari outfitters will handle the details for you.

Australia It's easy to get married down under because there's no residency requirement and just a $20 fee, although you have to use a legally certified officiant (known locally as a celebrant). Download the application form, to be filed 31 days before your wedding, at www.ag.gov.au/celebrants.

South Pacific On Fiji, there is a one-day wait and a $10 fee, but to marry legally on Tahiti or Bora-Bora, you must stay 40 days and file for residency, which is why most couples hold a symbolic ceremony.

Southeast Asia In Thailand, you'll submit an affidavit to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, have it translated into Thai, and give it to the local registrar (about a three-day process). In Indonesia, couples must wait a week and must be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist.

High Seas Religious and civil officiants cannot perform weddings in international waters—only a ship's captain can. Princess Cruises is the sole U.S. line whose captains are licensed to marry couples at sea.


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