This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Yay! Congrats! Woohoo! You’ve decided to tie the knot in Mexico! You are in for a treat. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would one day love Mexico like my own home and become a huge advocate for travel to Mexico I would have laughed in your face. But the day I hopped on a plane and flew to a convention in the Riviera Maya zone that changed my life forever. I instantly fell in love and my local destination event planning business became an international one. And I could not be more excited for you to host your destination wedding in Mexico and share this beautiful country and its lovely people with your family and friends.
Planning Your Destination Wedding In Mexico
Before you get wrapped up in the planning details, there are some things you should know in advance. Here’s a short (but by no means comprehensive) list of some things to prepare you:
Making it Legal
Running off to Mexico to get married sounds as simple as running off to Vegas. You just show up, make a run to the courthouse, find a drive-through chapel, and you’re married, right? Not so fast! Getting legally married in Mexico has a lot of steps and it can take up to a few days to complete them. You’ll need to bring all your documents – marriage application forms, an original birth certificate and a copy, a blood test taken in Mexico within the past 15 days, copy of official photo ID’s, and more. Oh yeah, and all your documents must be translated into Spanish and then once you’re married you’ll need to get your marriage certificate apostilled in Mexico to ensure it will be accepted back at home. Fortunately, most resorts can assist you with this legal process, but you can plan on shelling out about $1,000 for everything you’ll need to do.
Don’t fret; there’s another option that will make getting married in Mexico a breeze! It’s called a “symbolic” ceremony. In this option, our couples go old school and run to the courthouse in their home city and get legally married a week or so before they leave for their Mexico wedding. Since most US states have short waiting times between the issuance of the marriage certificate and the time that the ceremony can take place, this works for the vast majority of our couples. This route is a heck of a cash savings since most US marriage licenses are less than $100 and a heck of a time savings since you no longer have to wait in your hotel room for hours on end waiting for the guy to show up and take your blood, losing a full day of vacation! Now that you’re legally married in the US you can have a symbolic ceremony in Mexico and no additional paperwork is needed. Shh! You don’t even have to tell your friends and family you’re already married!
It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds. There Are So Many Details!
There’s this impression that a destination wedding is so easy. I mean, how hard can it be? Book some flights, book your hotel, pick out some flowers and wedding details, and everyone shows up for a weekend of fun. If only! Think about the last time you booked an extensive vacation for yourselves. Remember the hours on end of research? Remember stressing about all the details – renewing your passport, notifying all your bank and credit cards that you’ll be out of the country, deciding what to bring, lining up airport transportation, and a gazillion other things? Now multiply that by the 50 guests that are going to your destination wedding with you! Who do you think they’re going to call with every single question they have about your wedding, flights, hotels, activities, and more? You, of course! And they’ll be calling you with all of this and more while you’re also in the middle of planning the wedding.
Do yourself a favor and get some help. 71% of all destination weddings enlist the assistance of a destination wedding planner. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the other 29% are wishing they had! Destination wedding planners range from those that charge no fees and handle just the travel portion of your wedding vacation for you and your guests to those that charge several thousand dollars and will help you plan every single detail. There’s a destination wedding travel planner out there for every situation and every budget.
Purchase Travel Insurance AND Wedding Insurance
Your health insurance doesn’t work in Mexico. You might be able to file a claim with your health insurance once you return to the US but you must pay for any medical care you receive, on the spot, in Mexico. That can be quite a surprise! Purchase great travel insurance where the health insurance portion is “primary”, meaning that it works immediately when you have an incident. Most travel insurance works secondary to your personal health insurance, which means you must file a claim with your own health insurance and your travel insurance may only kick in once (and if) your primary insurance denies your claim.
Travel insurance doesn’t cover your wedding. You must purchase a separate wedding insurance policy that covers your destination wedding details. Things like weather so severe that it causes a total cancellation of your wedding, a vendor no show, or theft of your wedding gifts.
Between the flights, hotel, and the wedding itself, you’ve likely spent a lot of money on your destination wedding. Though the proper insurances may set you back several hundred dollars it’s a small investment compared to the significant financial loss you’d face in the event of a complete wedding cancellation or a medical emergency.
Island Time. It’s Real And It Will Drive You Crazy!
Sure, island time is awesome when you’re on the beach sipping a margarita and have nothing planned but a day of nothing planned but when you’re needing an answer from your resort it can make you insane waiting on a response. Don’t distress about delayed email and phone response times. At home, we expect immediate responses and want our whole wedding planned down to the detail many months in advance, but in Mexico once you book your wedding date and room block your resort may not circle back to you until 3 – 4 months before your wedding to finalize details. This is totally normal, even though it can be really frustrating for those of us that want everything. RIGHT. NOW.
I recommend keeping a running list of what you want for your wedding and for each category of vendors – photography, flowers, food, bar, entertainment, decorations, etc – so you’re prepared and ready to make decisions once your resort’s on-site coordinator is ready to get down to details with you about your wedding. Be as specific as possible with descriptions if what you’re asking for is not included in the wedding package that you might have chosen. This is a great time to send any pictures you have of those things you want. Alternatively, if you really just can’t wait to get started, put all your notes into one succinct email to your on-site coordinator, listing all of your wedding details and any questions you have, instead of sending multiple emails about multiple subjects.
It’s my hope that these tips will help either point you in the right direction or give you some peace of mind about what you can expect. You are going to have such a great experience hosting your wedding in Mexico. These memories will be with you, your family, and your friends for a lifetime. Spend time together exploring the jungles, take strolls along the beaches, enjoy the nightlife, take a moment to breath and soak it all in – make the most of your Mexico destination wedding!
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Bio: Guest blog by Cheryl Bailey, owner of Yellow Umbrella Events & Travel
Cheryl and her husband, Shea, specialize in destination weddings to Mexico and have been voted Best Destination Wedding Planner in Texas for 5 years in a row. They work one on one with each couple and their wedding guests, helping through the entire event planning and travel process.