Many couples ask me…How do couples get married in Mexico, Jamaica, or the Dominican Republic? It turns out, Destination Weddings are as easy as P.I.E.S. (popular-inexpensive-easy-stress free). Because of the romantic, tropical and sea beauty of the Caribbean, it is a popular and favorite choice for destination weddings. But, brides and grooms do need to know the two kinds of ceremonies, and then make the best choice for themselves.
What type of ceremony? There are two types offered…legal (civil) or symbolic.
Symbolic ceremony – I’ll start with the easiest of the two. Picture this ceremony as a “performance”, and remember that it doesn’t change anyone’s marital status. Most couples decide to “legally” marry in the USA prior to their destination wedding celebration, primarily because of the foreign requirements to have a legal ceremony (these will follow). The resort the couple chooses will: 1. tell them how many days they need to be present to assist and direct planning, 2. give the couple wedding package choices, and 3. coordinate & orchestrate the wedding. Couples can “individualize” their wedding by including wedding traditions, and stylizing every aspect to suit their personalities and likes. All of this is coordinated via email & phone calls through the travel agent, wedding coordinator, and the couple.
Civil or Legal ceremony – Generally, there are basic requirements in all foreign countries that remain somewhat consistent, but they will vary depending on the country. For purposes here, generalizations will be given and every couple should contact the Consulate in that country for specifics and to verify all facts and details.
1. Pre-wedding blood tests & possibly chest x-rays done in the wedding location. Documentation: 1. notarized copy of birth certificates and letters stating single status – these need to be translated in the language of the country. 3. 1 – 3 business days waiting period & 2 – 4 witnesses with valid id’s (varies by country). 4. Copies of any divorce decree or death certificate of a previous spouse. 5. Passports & copies.
The legal ceremony is conducted in Spanish by a Judge and translated into English by the wedding coordinator. The wedding certificate translation is at a cost of about $150. In the USA, the State Dept. requires that all wedding certificates from ceremonies in foreign countries, have the Apostille Seal. This can be completed by the wedding coordinator (boy, this person is busy), and is then sent and delivered to a U.S.A. address approximately 90 business days after the ceremony. Registration of the marriage certificate in a couple’s home country should be done once it is received. A wedding planner can be hired in the destination to assist with getting all of the required documents and paperwork complete. Often, a resort’s wedding department can provide information, as well. There are many details to this legal ceremony, so consider contacting the Consulate in the country of the destination wedding. Another general listing of the needed documents and waiting/preparation days for legal weddings:
Documents Needed Waiting/preparation days
- Passports and birth certificate Bahamas – 1 day Dominican – 3 days
- single status proof Mexico – 2 days
- At least 2 witnesses Jamaica – 1 day
- registration fee – approximately $300
Do you still have questions? Your travel agent and wedding coordinator can assist you to find the right answers. If you are now ready to begin looking at and planning your destination wedding, please go to www.GoTravelStl.com and begin by filling out the Perfect Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Analysis.
Look for my next blog…Planning a Destination wedding.