09 May

Over 1.5 million to go to a wedding abroad this year

ABTA reveals top destinations and advice for couples

ABTA has revealed that over 1.5 million people are planning to travel abroad to a wedding this year either as a guest or as part of a wedding party¹. The vast majority of these are under-35 year olds – over 850,000 younger people are expected to head abroad to celebrate a wedding this year. 

Weddings abroad have increased in popularity in recent years² with couples keen to combine their wedding and honeymoon, looking for something a bit different and seeking more reliable weather. Cost is also a major factor in the increase in weddings abroad which tend to be much cheaper than in the UK; the average cost of a wedding abroad is reported to be £7,000-8,000³ compared to over £20,0004 in the UK.

Top destinations

According to ABTA Members specialising in weddings abroad, favourite destinations include Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Caribbean. The USA is also popular, with New York, Hawaii and Las Vegas amongst the top destinations. In Europe, Italy – where George Clooney’s nuptials may take place – is one of the top destinations for weddings abroad as are Greece and Cyprus.  Croatia, Mexico and the UAE are also growing in popularity.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many couples choosing to get married abroad will opt to save money by combining their wedding and honeymoon, with the top weddings destinations also very popular with honeymooners. Around 280,000 UK couples get married each year5 and as well as the firm favourites above, destinations such as Tanzania for safari, Bali in Indonesia and Costa Rica for romance, exotic getaways, and UK mini-moon destinations such as Scotland, Cornwall, the Cotswolds and the Lakes are all popular choices for newlyweds. 

Twin-centre holidays are also popular, with, for example, couples tying the knot on Indian Ocean Islands such as Mauritius or the Maldives, and then heading to Oman, Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the UAE to enjoy romantic and secluded desert camps or glittering high-rise resorts as part of their honeymoon.

ABTA’s “Where to Go When” online destination picker has more destination information and honeymoon inspiration: abta.com/wheretogowhen

ABTA’s top tips for couples:

  1. Book with a reputable travel professional
    A wedding abroad might be the most important holiday you take so book with a reputable provider who is a member of a trade association such as ABTA. You’ll also get the benefit of their expertise and working with a professional planner/agent can save you a great deal of effort and let you concentrate on relaxing and enjoying your wedding day.
  2. Check if it’s legal
    Make sure your ceremony is legally binding or if you’ll need to get married in the UK before or after a blessing abroad. If you are planning a legal wedding abroad ensure you have the correct paperwork, for example you’ll need to get a certificate of no impediment (CNI) from the authorities in the UK to prove you’re allowed to marry.
  3. Find out how long you need to be resident in the country
    Kim Kardashian and Kanye West would have had to be resident for 40 days in France to have been legally married in Paris, where they are planning their reception this summer. When you’re picking a destination and planning the length of your trip make sure you check whether you need to be in residence before your ceremony, and how long for – it varies from country to country.
  4. Make sure you’re covered
    Even if it’s a small affair, your wedding will probably be a significant expense. As well as travel insurance, we recommend taking out wedding insurance in case any details of your ceremony are impacted by events out of your control.
  5. Embrace the culture
    It can be fun to incorporate aspects of the country’s culture that you’re getting married in into your day, why not try croquembouche instead of a wedding cake in France, Prosecco for your toast in Italy or music from a Mariachi band in Mexico!

ABTA has created a checklist for couples who are considering getting married abroad which can be downloaded.

Victoria Bacon, Head of Communications, ABTA said: “With so many great destinations to choose from, it’s not surprising that weddings abroad are growing in popularity. Weddings are one of the most special days in a couple’s life, so it’s very important that if you’re planning a wedding abroad, you research your options thoroughly: talk to a travel professional, who will be able to offer you advice about destinations and experiences; check travel advice with ABTA and the Foreign Office and always book with a reputable company.”

1. Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2013. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2013.

Population figures from the ONS http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-319259

2. A third of couples booked a wedding abroad in 2012 according to Travelex. Mintel shows a 27% increase from 2005-2011 http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/travel/the-great-escape-one-in-five-weddings-now-take-place-abroad

3. http://www.planyourperfectwedding.com/article/weddings-abroad/10-top-tips-getting-married-abroad

4. The average cost of a wedding in the UK is £21,939 according to research from You & Your Wedding Magazine in March 2013

5. According to the ONS http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-333696