The Fine Print: Making it Legal

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 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;

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

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.

Resort One of the easiest places to get married is at a hotel, so it's no wonder that just about every property on earth—from Marriott to the Four Seasons—is in the marriage biz, with on-site planners and organized programs.

Cruise Have your nuptials inside the ship's chapel, on deck, or at your port of embarkation (so non-sailing guests can join the party). You can also wed at sea or in one of your ports of call.

Castle Does your wedding fantasy include turrets and towers?Scotland's Litú (44-1333/439-340; can find you a castle. Or try a Mexican vine-covered estate like Hacienda Petac (800/225-4255;

Chapel A planner can orchestrate your wedding in any number of exotic houses of worship: a medieval cathedral in Europe, a temple in Thailand, or one of the pastel synagogues of Curaçao. Catholic couples can even marry at the Vatican.

Vineyard Where grapes are stomped, vows can be exchanged, at wineries from Australia to the Hamptons. California elevates the vineyard fête to the sublime with stunning locales like a field or a château, fantastic food and wine, and extras like bottles with commemorative labels.

Ends of the Earth Scuba divers can marry underwater, and mountain climbers on glaciers. Exchange vows in Kenya, and you might be serenaded by a children's choir. In Mongolia, don colorful caftan-like deels, ride camels to the altar, and receive blessings from monks.

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