You know what’s not fun? Paperwork. So brace yourself, if you plan to have a legal marriage in foreign country, there will be boat loads of it. It may feel like it takes away from the spontaneity of running away together, but you are going to be way more disappointed if you get there and realize you cannot do it. In reality it takes a little planning. First, look into the requirements of the country you are planning to get married in. Even city to city may have different rules. You may need to obtain separate records from all the places you have lived. You may have to have all the paperwork translated into the language of the country you are visiting. You may have to make a few embassy visits prior to your departure. You WILL have to shell out a lot more cash for this process than you expect. It also takes A. Lot. Of. Time. We started months before we left. The correct request forms from all the cities I lived in were brutally frustrating to locate, had to be hand filled out, and needed to be posted in the mail (no faxing or scanning here).
A lot of stamps and several hundred dollars later, we still had not received all our documents and we were out of time. I was crushed… but then I got over it. I was still going to run away and marry my best friend in a beautiful European city. We were still going to exchange vows and rings and always count this day as our anniversary. We had a nice little legal ceremony back in our home town with my parents as witnesses. This made them feel like they got to be part of our special day, and helped quell any future guilt trips my mom had planned for me. No matter which way you end up going, just remember the end result is the same. You still get to be the adventurous, spur-of-the-moment, romantic couple even if you sign the paperwork a little later.