Getting married in Mexico: A complete guide

TransferWise
06.19.18
8 minute read

Are you recently engaged and dreaming of tropical beaches, white sand, and a cold drink in your hand? Look no further than Mexico. Whether you’re interested in sunshine at the beach or a more traditional historic hacienda wedding, Mexico has excellent venue choices, many of which offer reasonable all inclusive packages. This is why Mexico is such a popular wedding destination.

Despite Mexico’s popularity as a wedding destination, the marriage process does have some quirks. Foreign nationals might find the marriage application process confusing and bureaucratic. There are also many requirements that may differ from your home country. Official Mexican government processes don't always move quickly, and your best bet is to be well-informed about what you’ll need to get married. If you can pair that knowledge with a bit of patience, that’s even better.

There’s a lot to consider, from the legal details and the application process, to the country’s popular venues and traditions. This article explains the details you need to know to make your wedding in Mexico possible.

Weddings in Mexico: What types of weddings are possible?

Civil weddings are the only legally recognized weddings in Mexico. Religious weddings and other symbolic blessing ceremonies are possible, but they're not legally recognized without also having a civil component. Most Mexicans have two marriages: the civil (legal) marriage and the religious ceremony afterwards.

As of 2015, the legal definition of marriage was changed by Mexico’s Supreme Court to encompass same-sex couples.

What are the legal requirements to get married in Mexico?

You may not get married under the age of 18 without parental consent. With parental consent, boys as young as 16 and girls as young as 14 can wed. During the marriage ceremony, couples will need to have four witnesses, with valid identification, present at the legal ceremony.

You don’t have to be a resident of Mexico to get married there. Two foreigners can get married in country with a passport, tourist visa and minimum amount of paperwork.

However, if you plan to marry a Mexican resident or citizen, you may need to apply for a foreign marriage permit. Certain municipalities will require it, while others have done away with this traditional law. You’ll request a permit from Mexico’s Interior Ministry for the state where you plan to marry.

What do you need to get married in Mexico?

Necessary paperwork and documentation

For your civil ceremony in Mexico, you and your fiancé(e) should expect to provide the following:

  • Marriage application forms, which can be obtained from the local registry office
  • Valid passports, as well as one copy of each person’s passport
  • Birth certificates
  • Your visitor’s permit, obtained at your port of entry or, if you're resident in Mexico, a copy of your resident permit.
  • Divorce Decree / Death Certificate, if applicable
  • Chest X-Ray Plates, done in Mexico, if applicable
  • Blood Test Results, done in Mexico no more than 14 days before the date of application
  • Foreign Marriage Permit, if required by your municipality

Requirements do vary from state to state, and depending on the type of wedding you’d like to have. Certain religions may require additional paperwork, so it’s best to inquire with both your local municipality and your minister, if applicable. Plan to have all of your documents translated into Spanish, and notarised by the Mexican consulate in your home country. This will prevent any confusion or re-verification that can add time to your waiting period.

The process

Visit your local registry office in Mexico to attain all of the forms that you'll need to get your application started. Keep in mind that all foreign documents must be accompanied by a Spanish translation and notarised by the Mexican government. They must also have an Apostille stamp, which authenticates them. The process for this stamp can vary depending on your home country; check your government’s regulations for confirmation.

Every state in Mexico requires a blood test before marriage, and some states also require a chest x-ray too. These tests are for the purpose of detecting syphilis and HIV. You’ll have to conduct these tests within Mexico, and finding a clinic may be difficult without the help of a Mexican wedding planner. Contacting one at this point in the process is advised.

When your paperwork is gathered and ready to be filed, you'll pay your marriage license fee. The waiting period for your application to be processed depends on the state; it could be anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days.

If you have to apply for a foreign marriage permit, you have to request it from the same jurisdiction where your marriage will take place. The process may take up to two weeks. If you have to go through this process, plan to have a wedding planner assist you with the details and take care of the paperwork on your behalf.

After this you can be legally married. If you want to, you can get married at your local registry office, which does not cost anything. For a fee, you can have the ceremony take place at another venue, such as a resort, hotel or on a beach.

After your ceremony, you'll need to get a certified copy of the marriage certificate from your registry office (acta de matrimonio)

What fees are involved?

The Mexican marriage license fee is approximately Mex$530. You should also expect to incur fees obtaining the paperwork. For example, the Apostille stamp in the US is about Mex$141 per document.

If you’re marrying in a state that requires a national marriage permit to wed, the permit will cost around Mex$3,526.

When considering your wedding budget, you and your guests can save money on cross border payments using TransferWise. The Borderless account allows you to hold and manage money in multiple currencies, without steep bank fees or bad exchange rates.

What should I know about wedding ceremonies in Mexico?

Preparing the necessary documentation for a civil ceremony in Mexico can be overwhelming for foreign couples. This is why it’s very popular for many couples to hire a wedding planner, or only have a religious/symbolic ceremony in Mexico.

If you want to officially get married in a church in Mexico, it's possible, but complicated. Mexico is predominantly Catholic, and Catholic weddings require several additional requirements for a marriage. Many couples won’t bother with it due to long wait times and bureaucratic frustrations. Civil judges will often compromise, by allowing a religious aspect into a civil service, if somewhat informally. A minister can be present and read from a Bible as part of the civil ceremony, for example.

If you’re willing to deal with the wedding process and your heart is set on legally tying the knot in Mexico, these links might help you with the process:

The cost of a wedding in Mexico

It’s very popular to have a wedding in a resort hotel, many of which offer wedding packages that can be personalised and adapted to your needs. Another popular tradition for Mexican weddings is the hiring of a wedding planner. You should expect to pay a 50% deposit for the planner, but it’s well worth it. The planner can often be your middleman for all of the logistics involved in your wedding. They can even serve as a stand-in for filling out paperwork in most cases.

The average cost of a wedding at a 4.5 star hotel for 45 guests, excluding accommodation, is Mex$88,250 - Mex$123,500.

Item Approximate cost
3 nights accommodation for 45 guests Mex$238,300
Paperwork Mex$1,800
Reception Site Mex$18,000
Flowers Mex$7,000
Decorations Mex$3,500
Dress, Accessories Mex$9,000
Wedding Planner Mex$18,000
Photographer Mex$9,000
Cake Mex$3,500
Food, Drinks Mex$50,000
Celebrant Mex$7,000
Music Mex$3,500

Top wedding locations in Mexico

There are so many different types of venues in Mexico, that it may be overwhelming to know where to start. The Riviera Maya is exotic, with its plethora of jungle life, white sand, and ancient ruins. Cancun is a hard-partying and convenient place to reach, with plenty of entertainment options for large groups of people. Los Cabos is another option on Mexico’s west coast, with deserts, beaches and dramatic cliffs, where it’s basically guaranteed not to rain. Then there’s Puerto Vallarta, an urban port surrounded by quiet villages and bays, known for its focus on Mexican gastronomy.

No matter your preference, here are a few popular options across the country to give you some ideas:

Venue Description
Zoëtry Paraíso de la Bonita (Riviera Maya) An intimate resort with oceanfront views and an exotic feel
Dreams Villamagna (Nuevo Vallarta) An oceanfront west coast hotel with the stunning Sierra Madres on the horizon
Now Jade (Riviera Cancun) A Caribbean Sea facing hotel that's all sand and sun
Hacienda de San Antonio (Colima) An historic coffee plantation located two hours from Guadalajara
Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa (Huatulco) A hotel on the southern coast set among the jungle and mountains
Four Seasons (Mexico City) A quiet, luxurious hotel located in the heart of Mexico City
The Royal Suites Punta de Mita(Punta Mita) A west coast resort in Riviera Nayarit with white sand and crystal blue water
Casa Dorada(Cabo San Lucas) A five star hotel located at the very bottom of the Baja Peninsula
Hacienda de los Morales (Mexico City) A traditional hacienda bringing history and tradition to your destination wedding
Encuentro Guadalupe (Valle De Guadalupe) An eco-friendly resort with panoramic views of the valley

Wedding traditions and customs in Mexico

Mexican wedding customs vary by religion and geographical location. Families are known to incorporate their own personal traditions into the wedding day. Some others may choose to forego tradition entirely and just have an informal party. If you're considering incorporating some Mexican wedding traditions into your destination wedding, here are a few of the most common ones:

  1. The lasso - the lazo, or lasso, is a ribbon adorned with flowers or pearls placed around the necks of the bride and groom after they've exchanged vows, symbolically (and physically) joining them together
  2. The mentors - the couple selects madrinas y padrinos, or mentors to guide them, act as official witnesses and take part in the service
  3. The money dance: during the reception, guests are invited to pay for a special dance with either the bride or groom by pinning money on them
  4. The sea snake - la vibora de la mar, or the sea snake, takes place during the reception. The bride and groom are seated on chairs and held up, and guests sing and dance around them, holding hands forming a snake shape
  5. The cake - A type of traditional Mexican wedding cake is one soaked in fruits and rum and filled with pineapple, nuts and coconut

When it comes to planning your destination wedding, Mexico should be at the top of your list. The all-inclusive resort hotels that frequently accommodate foreign national weddings make it easy to plan from abroad. Plus, your guests will get to enjoy the great environment, from warm tropical beaches and exotic jungles to breathtaking vistas and charming old traditions. This country has got it all to make your wedding dreams come true.

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