Experience is a precious thing. But with your marriage, you are not likely to get a second chance to benefit from your hard-earned knowledge after the event.
In addition to the various technicalities involved in arranging a legally-recognized marriage —the details of which can be found on our guide to getting married in Mexico— there are several other important decisions to make to ensure that your special day unfolds as you’d planned.
Here are six insider tips from a foreigner who married in Mexico about getting it right first time: a country where religion, partying, and bureaucratic procedures are taken seriously and will play a significant role in the nuptial proceedings.
Simple no-frills wedding vs alternatives
If you want to keep things as simple as possible and costs to a minimum, a no-frills civil ceremony at the Registro Civil in downtown Mexico City will cost around US$5. A civil ceremony elsewhere, for example, on the beach, costs substantially more, and the popular resort areas including Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos are the most expensive.
The church service for your Mexican wedding
If it’s the classic romance of a church service that you seek, then Mexico offers plenty of opportunities amidst the abundance of beautiful churches elegantly adorned and steeped in centuries of history. Be aware though that the procedures can be confusing; for example, separate payments, sometimes referred to as donations, need to be made: at the diocesan office, at the parish church, for the pre-marriage “talks,” and so forth. A good relationship with a local priest can help. Only a civil registration is recognized in law, so if you get married in church, you’ll also need to sign the civil registry. See the marriage guide for details about this.
The wedding reception party
If you’re keeping things simple, you can leave the civil registry office and take yourselves down to a local restaurant for celebratory meals and drinks. For those who plan something more elaborate, there are some things you should know about the fiesta. If you’re going to write one item on your to-do list, write Mariachi. The kitsch cowboy suits and bellowing voices will provide a sense of occasion, and if there’s ever an awkward silence on your table, you can brightly tell people that the words “mariachi” and “marriage” are etymologically linked. Make sure to negotiate and sign an agreement with the band for how long they will play. You can expect to pay around the equivalent of US$450 dollars an hour, depending on your location, the prestige and size of the band.
Weddings at Mexican vacation resorts
If you choose to get married at a popular vacation beach resort, talk to the resort manager about other events being planned at the same resort on the same date, as well as events planned at adjacent venues. You don’t want the noise of a children’s party next-door to drown out your own festivities. If you hire a wedding planner (see below) that person should be taking care of details like this.
Order as many copies of your civil marriage certificate that you think you’ll need. And then order a few more to be on the safe side. It’s a hassle to get copies once you’ve left the country, and you’ll also want to get copies legalized (apostilled) so that the certificates will be recognized outside of Mexico.
Hiring a wedding planner
If you are living in Mexico (or plan to arrive early and do all the preparatory work yourself), planning your own wedding is feasible provided that you have a good command of Spanish, plenty of leather on the soles of your shoes—and patience. Most foreigners who get married in Mexico (especially those who don’t live here) sensibly hire the services of a local wedding planner, based in the location where they plan to marry. Wedding planners know the terrain, they have good connections and relationships with local service providers and will be able to steer you through the labyrinth of regulations and paperwork.
Guide to Getting Married in Mexico
Read the guide on Mexperience to Getting Married in Mexico for a full list of the procedures, documents and other paperwork required to get married in Mexico.
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