By the Book: A Checklist for Planning a Legal Wedding Ceremony in Mexico
Laws & Regulations for a Legal Destination Wedding Ceremony in Mexico
Thirty percent of American couples – who’ve had a destination wedding – have done so in Mexico. If you are thinking about following in their footsteps, there are some important things you need to know when planning for your big event. Vacation compiled a checklist of the legal requirements to help you prepare for a destination wedding anywhere in Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City and Cancun. We want you to celebrate big! So, grab a pen and check off the following items to ensure that you and your future spouse have a stress-free ceremony.
Understanding the Legalese of Getting Married in Mexico: Two Choices
1. Symbolic Wedding Ceremonies
With this option, you’ll be legally married in the United States and hold a symbolic ceremony in front of your friends and family on the beach or in a resort. Symbolic weddings are a popular choice for busy couples because you bypass the process of gathering documentation and completing the medical requirements in a foreign country.
2. Legal Wedding Ceremonies
To get a valid Acta de Matrimonio after your ceremony, you’ll need to handle some arrangements before you travel. There are documentation requirements and other restrictions for U.S. citizens to marry in Mexico. But don’t worry, Vacation has you covered. Check out our list of requirements to fulfill a legal marriage ceremony. Expert Tip: There’s a lot to do in advance, so get started early.
The Basics Requirements
Laws vary among the 31 states within Mexico, so carefully check which restrictions, laws and fees apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you need two consenting adults and four witnesses – all of whom must have a valid passport. The good news is if you are getting married on a resort property, one of their wedding planners can guide you through the entire process of certificates, cards, forms and their Spanish translations.
- Second Marriages: Come prepared with a divorce decree or death certificate from your previous marriage. Some Mexican states (including the one where Cancun is located) require women to prove they aren’t pregnant. Plus, you must wait one year after a divorce to legally remarry.
- Same-sex Marriages: In 2015, many states in Mexico adjusted their laws to allow same-sex marriage. Check to make sure your destination wedding locale is within one of the states that allow gay marriage.
- Church Wedding: Although many couples exchange their vows in a resort setting, you can arrange to be married in a church. Additional planning and fees are required.
Get Assistance from a Wedding Coordinator
Some couples find the blood test and time required to be in Mexico – prior to the ceremony – complicated to pull off. One of the many perks of having your wedding on a resort property is having access to a personal wedding coordinator. He/she can smooth out the path to the altar for you by arranging for a doctor to meet you in your room or a private office to take the required blood test. Keep in mind that medical and blood tests need to be done in Mexico 14 days prior to the ceremony.
Documentation Required for a Legal Wedding Ceremony:
- Valid passports + copies for the wedding couple and their 4 witnesses
- Tourist cards (issued at border entry) + copies for the wedding couple and their 4 witnesses Expert Tip: Make sure your name on the tourist card is written as it appears on your passport.
- Original certified birth certificates with raised seal + copies for the bride & groom
- Original prenuptial certificate with proof of HIV negative status and blood type issued fewer than 15 days prior to the wedding. Expert Tip: Some Mexican states require a chest x-ray to prove you don’t have tuberculosis.
- Marriage request form
- If applicable, divorce decree or death certificate from previous marriage(s)
Your American legal documents must be translated into Spanish by an approved translator, and then ‘Apostilled’ (which is similar to being notarized) by the appropriate authorities. This is a requirement for your birth certificates and any other legal documents you bring into Mexico. If you do this on your own, it will take both time and money as each step requires a fee.
Going Home Married
Once you’ve said your, “I Do’s,” and the reception is over, you’ll be able to take home your marriage certificate and a certified copy of your wedding certificate (without a raised seal). To ensure that your marriage is legit back home, arrange for your marriage certificate to have an Apostille Seal, which signifies that your marriage is legal. You’ll need this to register your marriage in the U.S. It can be done locally, but be aware of the additional cost and that it can take up to 3 months for you to receive it after your wedding.
Getting married in Mexico promises to be the adventure of a lifetime witnessed by all the important people in your life. Prepare early and you’ll arrive at your destination wedding with confidence. With these guidelines, you can relax and enjoy the wedding of your dreams!
Disclaimer: Please be advised that the laws in Mexico are subject to change. Couples should re-confirm all legal requirements and guidelines with their destination and resort before travel.
Do you want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan a stress-free destination wedding in Mexico? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with a specialist to plan your nuptials.