Destination weddings are romantic, exciting, financially responsible, and in some cases confusing. When a couple decides to combine their wedding with their honeymoon trip, and they take along a small wedding party to celebrate with them, they assume all will go well. However, if you are leaving your home country for another, there may be laws and requirements that you are unaware of. It pays to do your research.
Laws of the land
In the United States (for example) all a couple needs to be married is a marriage license from the state where they will have the wedding. You can get married in a church, a hotel, or in your backyard. You can use a clergyman, minister, or a Justice of The Peace. The rules are simple, and the expense is minimal. But this is not true in other countries.
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If you are traveling to Panama for your destination wedding, you will need other documents. You will need:
- Birth certificate
- Birth certificates of any children you have had
*These documents must be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama
- Certificate of divorce or death certificate of any former spouse
- Certificate of celibacy issued in your home country for the 2-year period prior to the wedding
- Statements from two witnesses that are not related to you
- In Panama, a judge is often required to perform a ceremony. You will have to pay them to go to the location. The fee is usually $150-$200.
- The couple must undergo a medical examination before they are allowed to marry.
- The weather is usually agreeable. However, June – December is the rainy season, so you will want to keep that in mind.
Anytime you are traveling outside of your home country; you should have immediate access to the wedding registry, therefore to the funds. There are often expenses that you are not accustomed to. As soon as you begin preparing for your wedding, set up a Honeyfund account. Encourage guests to make use of your registry by gifting you with monetary gifts that can be used via bankcard, gift card, or as a direct payment to the vendor of your choice.
Take your wedding apparel and clothing with you for your trip. You do not want to be in a new country, searching for a place to buy your casual clothes or sexy hosiery in lace for first night in marriage. Take enough clothes to get you through the trip. Mix and match pieces that are lightweight and wrinkle resistant are best.
Do Your Research
The wedding customs in Panama are much different the customs in the United States. If you are marrying a citizen of Panama, you may want to combine their customs with yours. You will find the clothing, music, food, and entertainment to be very different from what you are accustomed to.
Some wedding ceremonies are performed based not on the country in which a person is from, but on their religious beliefs. For example, a wedding in the Jewish faith is much different that a wedding in the Christian or Muslim faith. In some cases, premarital counseling is required. There are also requirements for marrying a person outside your faith. As these matters take a considerable amount of time, you would be wise to inquire about them as soon as possible. Here is a good resource to get a brief description of the wedding customs from different countries and faiths.
Popular wedding and honeymoon destinations
- Broca’s Area
This area has played a big part in making Panama a much desired destination for weddings. Guest enjoy Popa Paradise Beach resort with a 16-room private boutique. The white-sand beaches and beautiful islands are spectacular.
- Gamboa Rainforest Resort
30 minutes from the canal you will find this incredible jungle resort. Couples not only enjoy one of the planets most lush rainforest, but the exclusive resorts includes a wonderful spa. Golf lovers will experience the best of the best at Gamboa Rainforest Resort.
- Bocas del Toro
The main islands were discovered by Columbus in 1502. This destination includes beautiful island resorts, scuba diving, boating, snorkeling, and if you are ready for adventure a wildlife safari.
You need a wedding planner
Panama is an exotic country with many beautiful and romantic settings that are perfect for weddings. There are many fine hotels and wedding venues that will allow you to purchase a package that includes everything you will need. However, you need a professional wedding planner that is experienced in the country.
Do not hire a wedding planner without checking their website, references, and contracts. Do not pre-pay for your wedding planner or for the merchandise through them. A deposit may be required, but be cautious if they ask for full payment. Make any payments with a credit card so that you have a full record of the transactions.
While the people of Panama are generally cordial and accepting of alternative lifestyles and there are talks taking place in government, as of right now same-sex marriages are not legal. Further, the LGBT couple who is married when they arrive in Panama will find their marriage is not legally recognized. People from the gay community will find people from this region are less accustom to alternative lifestyles.
Documents and forms
The mail service (even the guaranteed services offered) are known for being unreliable. Do not use the mail to send in important documents and forms. Do not send your forms back home using the mail service. You will find it unreliable at best. Instead, use Federal Express or United Parcel Service. The comfort in knowing your paperwork will arrive and that you will have proof of its arrival is worth the fee you will pay for the service.
You can have the exotic destination wedding of your dreams. However, you must approach it with an open mind and lose any preconceived notions. Understand that you are stepping into a new world and the rules are different. Give yourself plenty of time to get things done and do the research before you finalize your plans. If you do this, you will have no problems, and you will have a once in a lifetime experience.