Planning your Wedding Ceremony in Mexico
A wedding ceremony in Mexico is one thing…a legal marriage is something else. What’s the difference and how do you choose what is right for you?
The first thing you need to decide when planning your destination wedding is what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to declare your love and commitment to each other, or to re-new previous vows under a tropical sky bursting with sunset reds and golds, a wedding ceremony is perfect. But, if you want to be legally married when the day is over, you need a prescribed legal marriage ceremony via the laws of Baja California Sur.
The Civil Ceremony is the only marriage ceremony that is legally binding in Mexico.
The ceremony will be performed by a judge, either in his office or at one of the beautiful sites of Baja California. The ceremony vows are set by the State, cannot be altered, and will be delivered in Spanish with a translator present if you choose. The certification you receive is recognized as legally binding throughout the world, and once the civil ceremony has been performed, you will receive a certified copy of the Marriage License (Acta de Matrimonio).
In Mexico there are two ways to get married, common property and separate property. Like they sound, it determines the state of your net worth being common property or separate business.
You will need the following documents to proceed with a civil ceremony in Mexico:
• Copies of your passport
• Copies of your birth certificate
• If you are a foreigner, your tourist visa card, FM3, FM2 or other visitor documents as proof of legal status.
• Four adult witnesses (over 18 years old) with proof of ID; if they are foreigners, then a tourist card, FM3. FM2, or other visitor documents as proof of legal status. The witnesses cannot be the biological parents of the bride or groom.
• If either of you has been previously married, you will need a notarized document stating that the marriage has been discontinued for at least one year. Mexican law prohibits re-marriage in less than one (1) year from dissolution of the prior marriage, for any reason.
• If the bride or groom is under 18 years of age, you will need written consent from your parents or guardians, in the form of a notarized affidavit.
• Lab Work is required and must be completed in Baja California. A simple blood test must be administered, no longer than 14 days prior to the day, or as short as the day of the ceremony, and paperwork must be completed by the physician who administers the test. If you are not using a wedding planner, then the local “Registro Civil” office can direct you to a doctor or clinic for the test and results. With the proper coordination, you can get the lab test done on the day of the wedding, have your service and be legally married.
• Residency is not mandatory by Mexican law, but we recommend you arrive a few days prior to the ceremony in order to facilitate all details.
A Catholic Religious Ceremony is an option for a Catholic bride and/or groom.
All sanctioned pre-cana classes must be completed in your home country prior to your arrival in Cabo. At least 90 days prior to the ceremony, your priest must submit the necessary documents to the Bishop in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. When the Bishop confirms and approves the documents, he will send them to the Priest in San Jose del Cabo. The Catholic Church for weddings in the Los Cabos area is Mision de San Jose del Cabo Anuiti, located in San Jose del Cabo. No Catholic ceremonies may take place at destination sites or on Sundays.
A Non-Denominational Ceremony is not a legal ceremony and will not change your marital status.
There are no legal requirements for this type of ceremony so it can include whatever you want and can be held anywhere you desire. The Officiate will speak English and you will not have lab or State mandated required documents. The vows may be written by the bride and groom as they prefer. If you use a destination wedding planner, they can help you with vows and arrange for an Officiate to help you create your dream ceremony. You will receive a Marriage Certificate, but it is not legally binding. You will need two witnesses, and they can be anyone you select.
The most popular choice for many couples is to combine the legalities of the Civil Ceremony with a Non-Denominational Ceremony.
The legal requirements for the Civil Ceremony are adhered to, with the judge performing the legal ceremony in Spanish with translations. Once you complete the legal ceremony with the judge, you can have the ceremony of your dreams with your friends and family, personalized with the details that are important to you. In this way, you are married by the judge in a legally binding service, and you enjoy the wedding of your dreams in the exquisite Mexican setting of your dreams with a different Officiate.
If a destination wedding is your desire, and you have an eye for details, you can organize the event yourself. However, most couples use a wedding planner or destination wedding coordinator to ensure that all the specifics are handled expertly by someone who knows the area and the applicable laws. If you choose to use a professional, then by all means, take their expert advice. The coordinator will help you ensure that all the legalities are covered while you bask in the beauty of Mexico and enjoy the excitement of your wedding day. You can have the ceremony you need, the joyful event that you want, and return home in the matrimonial state that you desire.