If you are thinking of getting married in Mexico, you need to decide if you are going to do a legal ceremony, or if you are going to do a symbolic ceremony. Both are different, in that one requires more planning and more paperwork to be initiated and completed in Mexico.
A few years ago, we decided that it made sense for us to have our legal ceremony in the U.S. (we are U.S. citizens). Then a month after we moved here from the U.S, we had a symbolic ceremony in Mexico. For us, getting married in Mexico didn’t require ANY paperwork, all we had to decide was when and where to have the ceremony.
If you are getting married in Mexico to a Mexican citizen, many states will require you to do the paperwork and have a legal civil ceremony in Mexico. Not all states require the permission document known as “permiso para contraer matrimonio con un nacional”. This process can take up to two weeks depending on the state and the government office where you will apply.
Two foreigners who are planning a destination wedding in Mexico, and who want to have a legal Mexico wedding, will need to fulfill the following requirements:
- You both must be at least 18-years old to marry without parental consent
- You will have to complete a legal form in Spanish and get a blood test at least four days before the ceremony – in Mexico!
- You will need four witnesses to be available four days before the ceremony and at the ceremony (many planners will provide the witnesses if you don’t have them).
- You will need to pay the appropriate fees to the state and to your planner.
Using an experienced and qualified wedding planner can make this process nearly painless. The good ones are happy to help you navigate the legal issues and will arrange for the permits and the officiant for the ceremony.
Keep in mind that a civil ceremony and a religious ceremony in Mexico are not the same. A religious ceremony is not a legal ceremony. Only a civil ceremony is considered legal. So, a Catholic, Mayan, Hindu or Jewish ceremony, for example, is symbolic, not legal.
Certain states have rules about divorced individuals and when they are allowed to marry. Some may require a waiting period from the date of the final divorce decree.
Of course, the decision of going the legal or symbolic route is personal. For us, we felt more comfortable having our legal marriage in the U.S., then having to go through the paperwork in Mexico (plus we now celebrate two wedding anniversaries!!).
Also, from an esthetic standpoint, we think that it’s more romantic to place the rings on each other’s fingers, recite your vows and to hear the words, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” before going in for that memorable first kiss. If it’s a legal ceremony, both of you and your witnesses have to stop, sign the marriage certificate and press your thumb on an ink pad to leave your thumbprint on the marriage certificate. It always seems to take the “love” out of the air.
Author: Mike & Jennifer Lewis
Michael & Jennifer Lewis are happy to serve client’s with amazing Cancun destination wedding photography and are highly recommend as Cancun’s Best Wedding photographers on Wedding Wire.