A few years ago, my husband officiated the wedding of his best childhood friend and now-wife in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. People kept asking him if he had gotten ordained, if this and that, and we’d just laugh—nah. That ceremony was mostly symbolic; Whitney and Steve were really married when all the appropriate paperwork was filled out, signed and filed back here in PA.
That said, there is often a significant list of regulations you’re going to need to look into if you’re getting hitched in a foreign country, and suffice it to say it’s a list you’re going to want to go over way ahead of time. There are resident laws and special church documents, affidavits and blood tests—all things that would be a pretty big bummer to find out about for the first time only once you touched down in your nuptial destination. (Believe us, we’re heard the horror stories.)
The New York Times posted a handy little cheat sheet that goes through much of what you should be looking into, with a few tips on how to do it. It’s worth a look—and a conversation with your fiance, family, and planner, if you have one.