Do you have dreams of having a romantic wedding on a tropical island on the beach or maybe a vineyard in a rustic Mediterranean country in Europe? If you yearn for a small intimate affair between you and your closest friends and family in a foreign country, you need more than a plane and a passport to make sure that your dreams come true.

If you are planning to wed outside the United States, you need to educate yourself about the marriage requirements of that country. Just like the United States, the foreign country will require proof of residency, such as a valid United States passport, birth certificate or other proof of residency. In addition to birth certificates, some countries may also require divorce decrees or death certificates to authenticate your eligibility for marriage. Those countries may also require that those documents are authenticated in the United States by a consular official from the country in which you plan to wed. (Consular assistance is help and advice provided by the diplomatic agents of a country to citizens of that country—who are living or traveling overseas). Some countries may also require that the document proving birth, death or divorce be translated into the local language. This process can be time consuming and expensive.

In addition to the proper identification, some countries may require blood tests and/or other medical tests to be completed by the parties. Some countries may even require you or your spouse-to-be to have resided in their country for a set period of time prior to the wedding.
Most foreign countries may require an “Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry.” This document proves you have the legal capacity to marry. There is no government-issued “Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry” in the United States. Most countries will accept a statement from you attesting to your ability to marry, if your signature on the affidavit has been notarized by a United States consular officer.

If you have already planned your wedding and realize that you have not met the local rules of your foreign country and do not have the time to meet that country’s requirement, do not fret. You can always go forward with the ceremony for yourself and your guests and make arrangements to be legally married in the United States in a private ceremony before or after your destination wedding. Obviously, if you have not complied with the laws established by the foreign country, your marriage in that country will not be valid.

The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country in which the marriage is to be performed is the best source of information about marriage in that country. In addition, American embassies and consulates abroad frequently have information about marriage in the country in which they are located. For more information, you can also visit:

Torree J. Breen is the chair of the Family Law Practice Group and is a member of the firm’s Litigation Group.  She also serves as Secretary on the firm’s Board of Directors.  Ms. Breen specializes in family law, divorce, child custody disputes, no-fault litigation, insurance coverage, and handicapped accessible housing coverage.  In 2016, Ms. Breen was awarded a Regional Leadership Award by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Michigan for her outstanding legal, leadership and mentoring skills in the community.  Ms. Breen was selected as one of the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys in Michigan in 2014 and 2015 by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA).   She was recognized as being among the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys as selected by The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (AIFLA) for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Ms. Breen has received a Certificate of Completion in the area of Family Law issued by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.


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