How to Plan Your Wedding or Anniversary Celebration in Mexico

By:  Patricia Ann Talley, MBA and Editor

Wedding 2Many brides dream of a tropical beach wedding. Or for some, a “get-away wedding” is a simple way of tying the knot without the complexity of a big ceremony. In my case, our joint invitation list got so big that we decided to solve the problem by eloping to Mexico. Sixteen (16) years ago, I married my husband in a civil/legal ceremony on the beach of Playa Larga in Zihuatanejo, so I speak from experience. Getting married in Mexico is easy. Mexico is also a great place to have an anniversary celebration or any special event.

First, there are two (2) options for wedding ceremonies in Mexico:  a “Symbolic Ceremony,” that has no legal validity, or a “Civil Ceremony,” that is legally recognized. You can arrange for either type of wedding ceremony through most hotels in their Wedding Department, or you can ask for a referral to a local wedding planner. In our case, we worked with a local wedding planner who arranged all details helped us to conduct the wedding within our 2-week vacation. It was easy . . . and, unforgettable!

The “Symbolic” Wedding or Anniversary Ceremony: A “Symbolic Ceremony” consists of a “blessing” performed by a Non-Denominational Minister. This “Symbolic Ceremony” has no legal validity. Couples choosing this type of ceremony usually have a civil/legal ceremony in their home country before arriving in Mexico, and then celebrate their union surrounded by our breathtaking locations. You can have a “symbolic” celebration in any location – a restaurant, a hotel, on the beach, etc. — without limitations or legal restrictions. If you make your arrangements through a hotel, some of them require that the Couple be at the hotel a minimum of 48 hours prior to the ceremony. The “Symbolic Ceremony” is also arranged for anniversary celebrations to renew wedding vows.

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The Civil / Legal Ceremony: A “Civil Ceremony” is a legal union and contains no religious elements, except for what the couple may add. It is performed by a judge.  We had a civil wedding on the beach. And, Yes! The marriage is legally recognized in both the USA and Canada. (That was the first question that my Mother asked!)  Translated, notarized documents are required (birth certificate, passport, etc.), along with a medical test for HIV, which can be obtained locally. Again, a local wedding planner or the hotel’s Wedding Department can help to arrange for a Judge and assist with making all the necessary arrangements.

A decorated table with two (2) chairs is often shown as the setting for a wedding ceremony in Mexico (see the photo). Traditionally, the bride and groom sit at a table in front of the judge to take their vows and to sign the legal marriage documents.

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An Important Note:  While “civil” weddings performed in Mexico are recognized in both the USA and Canada, it is recommended that US Citizens obtain an “Apostille Seal” (see Wilkipedia: Apostille Convention) on a notarized copy of their wedding certificate. Arrangements can be made with the judge to obtain this seal. For more information from the Mexican Federal Government, US Citizens can visit:  http://www.dicoppu.gobernacion.gob.mx/es/DICOPPU/ApostilleCanadian Citizens should contact the Civil Registry of their province of residence to find out if there are any special requirements. For more information, visit the Canadian Embassy website at: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/mexico-mexique/consul/mardiv.aspx?view=d. (Remember, Moma says be sure to have papers on your man!)

The Wedding or Anniversary Dinner/Reception: Part of the splendor and memory of your wedding or anniversary celebration is the reception. Whether big or small, enjoying this “life moment” with friends and family along the magnificent beachfront is a lasting memory that will be shared by all. In our case, we had the wedding ceremony and a sunset dinner reception, for just 18 people, at a restaurant along the oceanfront. In contrast, we have attended wonderful wedding celebrations with hundreds of people at various hotels in our area. All have been special.

So, if your dream is to marry your love in a tropical beach setting, do it! Come down with friends and celebrate your anniversary. Again, it’s easy to get married in Mexico! (And,Moma – it’s legal!)

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