The Numbers Behind Marriage Ceremonies Abroad

With the amount of special occasions crammed into the space of just a few months, it probably comes as no surprise that nearly 40% of engagements happen between November and February (Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day!).

This kickstarts the wedding planning process and asks a lot of questions of celebrants. When the ceremony be, who will attend, and importantly, where the ceremony will take place.

Packed with inspiring, charming and unique venues, the UK offers couples everything from stately manor houses to rustic converted barns. But sometimes a full change of scenery is in order, with couples looking abroad for their nuptials to maximise on sun or just to be closer to family.

In honour of Valentine’s Day today, the Stopford team have taken the time to look back on the data and find out the places celebrants are taking their vows the most outside of the United Kingdom.


Weddings Ceremonies Happening Internationally

Using the most recent ONS data (2007-2016), we refined the statistics to answer the following questions.

What are the most popular countries to get married in?

Of the many countries British couples are choosing to be wed in, two countries contributed to nearly 20% of all marriages abroad over the time period, America and South Cyprus (~90,000 total weddings).

Among the warmer hotspots for sun and sea, Italy and South Cyprus performed particular well amongst their neighbours in the Mediterranean, with Italy doubling the volumes of Spain and Greece.

The top five in terms of wedding volumes rounds out with Pakistan and the Republic of Ireland. See the full ranking in the table below.

Pie chart detailing the top 10 locations for marriage ceremonies abroad between 2007-2015


1 America 45,684
2 South Cyprus 44,555
3 Italy 36,817
4 Pakistan 34,802
5 Ireland 17,621
6 Mexico 17,455
7 Spain 17,063
8 Greece 16,902
9 France 14,760
10 India 14,716


Total Marriages Abroad Over Time

Although showing a strong cumulative volume over the 9 year period (450,000+ weddings), the total each year fluctuated throughout the data set.

Reaching a peak over the time period in 2013 (with 70,175), the years prior had been decreasing between 2009 and 2012. Looking back over the events of the time, this could have been heavily effected by the global recession, with the weakened pound forcing couples to look for less expensive options.

The average volume of ceremonies abroad over this period was 51,829.

With a lack of official ONS data for the years after the dataset, it’s difficult to ascertain if volumes continued on this trend. However, the likely impact of Brexit in respect to the exchange rate (the pound hasn’t fully recovered from the referendum according to the BBC) and uncertainty around what this would mean for those looking to get married abroad in terms of legislation may have reduced volumes in later years.


Volume of marriage ceremonies taking place abroad by British couples


2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
64,228 45,812 56,619 43,391 30,617 52,948 70,175 51,454 51,217



Managing Ceremonies Bookings Abroad with Stopford

Alongside our customisable online ceremony booking and management features, Stopford also provide functionality to enable ceremony bookings requiring the issue of a Certificate of No Impediment.

For more information, please contact Stopford’s Sales and Marketing team.