Marrying in Mexico

In Mexico there’s a distinct difference between a wedding ceremony and a legally binding marriage: one does not equal the other. In fact, most Mexicans celebrate two special occasions, first the legalizing civil ceremony, followed by the formal religious wedding in a church.

The vast majority of foreign weddings that take place south of the border are symbolic marriages, with all the legalities taken care of stateside before or afterwards. This includes religious ceremonies performed by priests, ministers or even shamans in exotic settings.

If your clients want the marriage to be lovely and legally binding, all they need is a little planning and a destination wedding coordinator to help smooth the way.

♥ The couple and four witnesses (all over 18 and with valid passports) must arrive in Mexico at least three full business days prior to the ceremony to get some legal wheels in motion (please check with the resort’s wedding coordinator or local CVB for updated details).

♥ Couples will need to fill out an application at the local Registro Civil, or Civil Registry, which includes a statement as to whether they wish to marry under the system of joint or separate marital property. They will also have to present blood test results from a physician in Mexico (can be arranged through the hotel).

♥ Both bride and groom must present the original and copies of their U.S. and Canadian passports, tourist permits (received upon entry into the country) and their birth certificates. All U.S. documents except the passports must be translated into Spanish and authenticated by an American authority (usually an officer from the Secretary of State office where they were born) by attaching an “apostille” to the document.

♥ Persons previously married must present proof of the termination of that marriage whether it’s a divorce decree or a death certificate. If either took place outside of Mexico, the decree must be authenticated and translated, as well. Divorced people can’t marry in Mexico until one year after the termination of the divorce.

♥ Civil (legal) marriages are performed on the premises of the Civil Registry, though for an additional fee it may be able to be performed elsewhere. Couples will need to obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate from the Civil Registry before they leave. We recommend having it authenticated by the corresponding Mexican authority (with an “apostille”).

Note: Persons under the age of 18 cannot be married without the consent of their parents or legal guardians.

Roman Catholic ceremonies can be arranged in one of the many beautiful local chapels, churches or cathedrals. They do require some additional planning and extra documents that must be sent from the couple’s bishop to the bishop of the desired Mexican state prior to the ceremony (the couple must also have proof of a civil marriage.) These include:

♥ A premarital inquiry completed and signed by the couple

♥ Affidavits affirming each person’s freedom to marry

♥ Original copies of the baptismal certificates for both parties

♥ Original copies of the birth certificates of both parties

♥ Certificate proving participation in a marriage preparation program

♥ Permission to marry or dispensation from the disparity of cult or testimonial letters issued by the bishop of the Catholic Church if only one member of the couple is Catholic

♥ Decree of nullity of a former marriage or a death certificate for previous marriage ending with a spouse’s death

For more details on destination weddings in Mexico, visit the Mexico Tourism Board website at, or e-mail