Are you getting married in Mexico or the Caribbean? One thing you’ll have to consider is what kind of wedding ceremony are you interested in. Not all destination are equal here. Be sure to choose what is right for you. Read on to learn more.
What’s the difference?
First thing’s first. What exactly is the difference between a legal wedding ceremony and a symbolic wedding ceremony?
A legal ceremony is when you follow the laws of the destination and receive a marriage license from them. A legal ceremony is recognized in the US as a legal marriage. A legal ceremony typically requires more paperwork, a judge, additional fees, and occasional blood tests. You will need to present your legal paperwork to your license bureau when you get home so they can file the marriage license for you.
A symbolic ceremony has no legal bearing and makes up approximately 80% of destination weddings. Typically, the bride and groom will go to their local clergy or courthouse, file the license and legally marry before they leave on their wedding trip. They are already legally married when they travel, making for a smooth and easy destination wedding. The best part about this is guests will never know the difference! The legal and symbolic ceremony is the same, just minus the license.
What are my destination’s ceremony requirements?
Mexico – A legal ceremony must be performed by a judge. A blood test is required. The blood test is for STD’s and if the test is positive, a marriage license will not be granted. A symbolic ceremony has no legal bearing and is performed by a non-denominational minister, wedding coordinator, family friend or relative. The bride and groom will receive a symbolic marriage certificate without a legal license.
Dominican Republic – If you decide to wed here, go for a symbolic ceremony. For a legal wedding, all paperwork must be notarized and translated into Spanish, which will typically add an additional $500-1000 to your wedding costs. Only the judge can legally marry you, so you’re at the mercy of his schedule. Symbolic is definitely the way to go in the Dominican Republic.
Jamaica – Ceremonies performed by a minister are legally recognized in Jamaica. Jamaica is one of the easiest countries to be legally married in.
Bahamas – Same as Jamaica, ceremonies performed by a minister hold legal meaning in the Bahamas. If the ceremony is civil, the minister will make no mention of God. Symbolic weddings are also a popular option here.
Aruba – The civil ceremony performed by a judge at City Hall are the only legally recognized wedding ceremonies in Aruba. If a religious ceremony is requested, it will be performed by a non-denominational minister, with no legal binding.
Costa Rica – Same as Aruba, Costa Rica offers legal ceremonies if they are performed by a judge. Religious ceremonies or vow renewals will hold no legal bearing, as they are considered symbolic.
Is your ceremony destination not on our list? Then feel free to contact the destination wedding specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and guidance!