A wedding in Europe is top of many couples' romance list, and who can blame them when there are so many simply amazing locations on this continent to proclaim your love.
Europe is so diverse that it helps to narrow down what type of wedding ceremony you're looking for before you start your search, otherwise you'll find it too difficult to decide which gorgeous location is right for you.
However, some European countries always come top on wedding abroad lists – Italy, Cyprus and Greece just being three of the most popular ones. As you can imagine, having to choose between the country of Romeo and Juliet, or the home of the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, really depends on what you're looking for!
Many couples choose to get married in Italy
as it's quite straightforward and there are plenty of wedding providers to help you plan. How about marrying in a villa on the banks of Lake Garda, or exchanging vows up a mountain with a magnificent view of the Dolomites? Or, you could decide on a city wedding and exchange vows in historic Rome, artistic Florence or the incomparably beautiful Venice. Further south, consider the ancient island of Sicily or the simply stunning Amalfi Coast for your nuptials.
is another top wedding choice. Easy to get to, and with good weather from March to October, this island has simple legalities (in English) and is a favourite with tour operators (although you can also arrange your wedding independently here). Ideal for couples who are looking for a no fuss wedding abroad in the sun, you can be sure that whether you choose to marry at the town hall or at your resort, you'll have a fantastic time.
is another good wedding abroad alternative with its many pretty islands and amazing views. The island of Santorini with its whitewashed houses and blue roofs is picture-postcard pretty, as is the tiny isle of Ithaca. Whereas, Rhodes, Crete, Kos and Corfu are more touristy but have an excellent choice of wedding locations with plenty of larger resorts for you and your guests to stay. Further north, the peninsula of Halkidiki also boasts many resorts offering weddings dotted along its coastline, overlooking the turquoise sea.
Another good wedding abroad choice is Turkey
– whether you're looking for a ceremony which embraces the local culture or would just like a simple wedding in the sun, you can have either here. For an unusual ceremony you could marry in a palace or historic house full of intricate decoration, and celebrate with sweet baklava and Turkish kebabs. Alternatively you could get married in one of the many resorts along the coast – most of them offer weddings and they take care of everything for you, making it easy to become Mr and Mrs.
Further north, have you ever considered Croatia
for your wedding abroad? This gorgeous country is growing in popularity for weddings abroad as it has the beauty of Italy without as many crowds. Thousands of islands dot its coastline and more and more venues are offering great value weddings here. Many couples choose to get married in charming Dubrovnik with its honey-hued buildings and delightful wedding venues. From baroque churches to a former monastery, from a nature reserve to a secluded island, there are plenty of delightful wedding venues here.
Alternatively, if you're looking for another unusual European wedding destination then take a look at Malta
. This historic island in the Mediterranean boasts a mild climate year-round, a rugged coastline with hidden coves and secluded bays, impressive churches and chapels, and, best of all, it's English speaking so there's no need to have any of your documents translated. Weddings here can be as simple or as sumptuous as you wish, and you can be sure your ceremony will be like none of your friends'!
Continuing our trip around the Mediterranean, France
is a country which many couples dream of marrying in. Unfortunately you need to be resident there for at least 40 days before you can legally marry (there's no way round it, so don't even try!), but many couples do decide to have their wedding ceremony there and do the legal part at home. That way you get to marry in the location you want (otherwise you have to legally marry in the town hall), and can choose from the multitude of chateaux, vineyards, private villas, chapels, mountaintop chalets and other venues which France excels at.
is another difficult country to marry in, and, despite efforts to change the law, you currently have to be resident for 2 years before you can legally marry there. However, there are a couple of ways round this – either if you own property there, or if you are Catholic, then you may be able to get married in Spain, but you will need to check with the commune where you want to marry to be sure you can. If neither of these options is open to you, again, consider having your ceremony in Spain and doing the legal bit at home or in neighbouring Gibraltar (where it's easy). Spain's coastline is a big attraction for weddings abroad, but also consider the interior – a pretty mountain town with your reception in a local restaurant makes a fabulous ceremony choice.
At the tip of Spain is Gibraltar
, a British overseas territory, and consequently, an easy place to get married. Sean Connery and John Lennon both got married here (not to each other!), and with its easy legalities Gibraltar is perfect for couples who'd just like to get married and don't want to fuss over the paperwork. The view from the top of the rock is amazing, so you can be sure you'll get some fabulous wedding photos.
As an alternative to Spain, Portugal
is now a much easier country to get married in. The law changed a few years ago so non residents can now legally marry there, and consequently the choice of wedding venue has increased quite a bit. From beach weddings on the Algarve coast, to villa weddings further north, or exquisite city weddings in Lisbon followed by a reception in a local fish restaurant listening to the local music, Fado - if you choose to get married in Portugal then you won't regret it.
If none of these countries appeal, then how about Prague and the Czech Republic
? Prague's Gothic architecture gives the city a romantic air and the famous Charles Bridge makes a fabulous backdrop for your wedding photos. Prague has a plethora of historic buildings where you can exchange vows, including the unusual town hall with its highly intricate clock. Outside Prague, the Czech countryside makes a great wedding choice, especially if you like the idea of getting married in a castle. There are many restored castles within a couple of hours of Prague, and most offer weddings and receptions, so any princess wannabes take a look here and see if you can find your fairytale destination.
As you can see, Europe offers so many different choices for a wedding abroad that it can blow your mind! There are many, many more wedding locations out there, so make a list of what you'd like before you start looking and then see whether you can find what you want. You'll probably be distracted by something completely different by the time you book!
By Marry Abroad
See the marriage legalities for Europe here.