A hitch when getting hitched? - Your travel rights when marrying abroad

Date … Venue … Guestlist … Menu … Table plan … Music … 

Any bride-to-be will know there’s a whole lot of planning that goes into ensuring a dream wedding.  But no amount of to-do lists can cover every eventuality.  This is particularly true when you decide to get married abroad.

Getting everyone (and everything) for your special day to another country on time and in one piece can be a task requiring military precision.  But what happens when things outside of your control threaten to ruin your big day?

Here we look at your travel rights when marrying abroad so you know where you stand (just in case) …

Flight delays
Seeing the word “DELAY” flash up on the departures board is enough to make even the calmest of brides turn into a Bridezilla.

Weddings are all about sharing your special day with your nearest and dearest so what happens if a flight delay or cancellation threatens to ruin that?  Whether it’s you or your guests who are faced with a delay in reaching your destination, it’s worth knowing about EU Regulation 261.

Regulation 261 entitles passengers to up to €600 for long flight delays (+3 hours), cancellations or denied boarding.  Delays/cancellations caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not covered meaning you cannot claim for flight problems caused by things such as terrorism, sabotage, the volcanic ash cloud, or industrial strikes.

To qualify for compensation, the flight must be leaving an EU airport or landing at an EU airport on an EU carrier.

This point is particularly important if you are getting married somewhere that requires you to take one or more connecting flights to reach your destination:  For example, if you are getting married in the Bahamas (flying from London  via Miami), then depending on which leg of the journey saw the original delay, you may or may not be covered:

You can check whether your flight delay is eligible for compensation using the online claim checker here.

Should my passport show my maiden or married name?
If you’ve decided to take your husband’s name after saying your “I-Do’s” what does this mean for your passport?

Onward travel to a further honeymoon destination or even just the flight back home after getting married abroad may be a concern if your married name is different to that on your passport.  So what should you do to avoid any confusion?

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) can issue a post-dated passport in your new name up to three months in advance of your wedding.  Your new passport will be valid for ten years (and up to a further nine months depending on the remaining validity on your current passport).
If you don’t want to change the name on your passport, you can use your current passport and take your marriage certificate with you when you travel.  However it is worth checking with the consulate of the country you will be travelling to/from beforehand as different places have different rules.
Just fill out a standard passport application form and a post-date form 2 (PD2).

If an airline incorrectly denies you boarding because of this you are protected under EU Regulation 261, meaning you can claim up to €600 depending on the length of your flight.  However the airline won’t have to pay out for denied boarding if they had reasonable grounds to do so e.g. health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation.

You can check whether you have a claim for denied boarding by getting in touch with specialist flight lawyers Bott & Co.

Lost, delayed or damaged luggage
A lost or damaged wedding dress is every bride’s worse nightmare.  But it’s not just the fairy tale gown that’s important:  No wedding party is complete without a whole raft of (perfectly coordinated) finishing touches.  The veil, the shoes, the rings … you can’t just pop to the local mall and buy replacements for these things so it’s vital that your luggage arrives (a) with you, (b) on time and (c) in good condition.
But what are your rights should the unthinkable happen?

Article 17 of the Montreal Convention protects passengers for incidents just like this:

Destruction/loss/damage of checked baggage
The Regulation says the air carrier is liable for destruction/ loss/damage to checked baggage, provided the event that caused the damage took place on board the aircraft or at a time when they were in charge of the checked baggage.
The carrier is not however liable if the damage caused was the result of an inherent defect, quality or vice of the baggage.

Unchecked baggage
So, what about items that are not placed in the hold but that you carry onto the plane?  The carrier is only liable for unchecked baggage and personal items if the damage was caused by them or was the fault of one of its employees/agents.

Lost baggage
If the carrier admits to losing your luggage, or if your checked baggage has not arrived by 21 days after the expected date, you can take legal action and enforce your rights as outlined in the ‘Contract of Carriage’.
For your average holiday the Montreal Convention would be enough to cover you but when it comes to flying for your wedding, you may be wise to take out insurance.  The airlines’ liability is extremely low, meaning you might not be able to claim back the full cost of the loss/damage.

Illness abroad
A hangover the morning after a lot of fizz and fun is par for the course with weddings.  However, as always when travelling to a foreign country, there’s a risk that you or your guests might pick up something a little more serious when getting married abroad.

Particularly if you and your guests are all staying in the same hotel, a group bout of food poisoning or ear infections from the swimming pool could threaten to ruin your big day.  

So what legal backup do you have if you, or anyone in the wedding party, get struck down abroad?
The Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tours Regulations (1992) are what you will be relying on in this instance.  These regulations allow you to recover compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by any sickness as well as any financial loss that can be directly attributed to that sickness.
Claims for illness abroad are likely to be brought against your tour operator, providing your holiday was booked as a package.

To see more wedding abroad options, visit Marry Abroad here.


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