Many couples about to get married are choosing to celebrate their nuptials abroad in an effort to have a unique experience or to save money. Doing so requires knowledge of the legalities of getting hitched in a particular locale.

Wedding expenses can vary greatly, but many couples expect to spend in the neighborhood of $30,000 for their big day. Couples looking to save money on their wedding ceremony and celebration are often turning to getting married internationally where the costs may be lower. Others say "I do" overseas because of the distinct memories this type of wedding can provide.

Getting married abroad takes planning and research. There are certain steps to take to ensure the ceremony is valid and successful.

* Contact your country's embassy in the country in which you'd like to be married to find out about any requirements they may have.

* Secure your passports and bring your original birth certificates, divorce papers, etc. when you travel.

* You may need to have documents translated into the destination country's native language to receive a marriage license.

* Some countries require a minimum residency of several days before they will issue a license for marriage.

* Investigate whether the country requires blood tests or immunization records.

* Work with a wedding planner or an all-inclusive resort that specializes in weddings to arrange for all the details, such as florists, musicians, officiants, food, and more.

* Recognize that just because your marriage is valid in the country in which you were married it may not be considered valid in your native country. You may need to apply for a marriage license in your home country and undergo an official ceremony at home.

* Generally weddings abroad have a smaller guest list than those you would have closer to home because the majority of people simply won't be able to travel. For those who will be joining you, secure discounted accommodations, or arrange to have some travel expenses paid for guests.

* Plan travel arrangements so that you arrive a few days earlier than your ceremony. This will help provide security if your flight is delayed or if there is another unforseen delay.

* Pack essential items, such as the wedding gown and important documents in a carry-on bag so they will always be in your sight.

* Arrange for translations for guests so that they -- and you -- will understand the ceremony.