Wedding travel is a trip by a couple about to get married, so as to have a wedding far from home. These are often called "destination weddings" and can serve as a reason for the couple's friends and relatives as well as the marrying couple to have a vacation abroad. Other reasons for wedding travel include more liberal marriage legislation at the destination, and cases where the wedding destination is easier for some friends and relatives.
There can be many reasons why couples marry away from their home town; legislation, costs, getting closer to their friends and family, or enjoying great scenery.
The destination might have more liberal laws for same-sex marriage or marriage across ethnic or religious groups. Historically, some couples have established legal precedents through Supreme Court cases demanding local recognition for marriages from distant but liberal jurisdictions. Loving v. Virginia earned a Washington, D.C. interracial marriage recognition by the state of Virginia; US v. Windsor earned a Toronto same-sex marriage US federal recognition.
Recent immigrants or mixed-nationality couples may choose to have a ceremony in "the old country" or in a location relatively easy for guests to reach.
Conversely, eloping to a distant tropical beach some Valentine's Day may merely be a way to get away from a cold Northern Hemisphere winter.
The requirements to be wed (as foreigners) at the destination will usually differ from those at home. Make sure you can be wed there and that all needed paperwork is ready in time. You should also carefully check that your marriage is recognized at home – or what your status is if it is not recognized.
Some countries (such as France) impose a minimum residency requirement for couples before marriage. Most require some sort of licence be obtained a specified amount of time in advance, which in turn requires documentation of identity and evidence that neither partner is already married. Some may require your documents be translated into the local language. If you are not local (or have your hearts set on eloping in great secrecy or on the spur of the moment), the English traditional practice of reading the banns of marriage in a house of worship ("if anyone dost know any reason why these two should not be joined together in holy matrimony, thou art to declare it...") is not a viable alternative due to its reliance on the persons already being known in the local parish.
Local laws vary in the amount of time required between the licence and the ceremony. Minimum age (or minimum age to marry without parental consent) varies between jurisdictions. Only a small minority of countries legally recognise same-sex marriages or marriages conducted by captains of ships at sea. Depending on the ship's flag and port of registry, even the authority of a chaplain aboard a ship in international waters to solemnise marriage is uncertain. Recognition of religious officiants from non-mainstream denominations varies widely. Some countries may restrict the ability to marry someone of another religion, limit the ability of divorcées to remarry, or impose a waiting period before widow(er)s and divorcé(e)s can wed another. In some countries, laws vary between provinces or federal states.
- Cyprus is popular for travellers from a few Middle Eastern countries which forbid interfaith marriage at home.
- Scotland was a popular place to elope in an era when English law forbade anyone under 21 to wed without parental consent; Gretna Green was a first easily-accessible point across the Scottish border.
- Amsterdam was one of the early adopters of legal same-sex marriage (in 2001); see LGBT travel#Same-sex marriage for other popular destinations.
- Las Vegas is known for weddings on short notice (no waiting period, no blood test) and novelty weddings (including Elvis impersonators for officiants). Nevada was also one of the first US states to liberalise divorce law; a Reno divorce is available to any couple, providing that at least one of the partners has lived in Nevada for six weeks.
- While traditional authority of ship's captains to officiate marriage is not universal, Bermuda and Malta allow masters of ships registered under their flags to conduct weddings at sea. Another option is a wedding on a cruise ship in port, with a local officiant from that port.