PC: Majestic Elegance Costa Mujeres
Planning a destination wedding is an exciting venture that goes beyond choosing a beautiful location. One crucial decision you need to make is whether to have a legal or symbolic wedding ceremony. It’s essential to understand the differences between the two, as they can significantly impact your travel plans and, ultimately, your special day. In this blog post, we will delve into the distinctions between legal and symbolic weddings, providing you with valuable insights to help you make an informed choice. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out — we are here to assist you every step of the way!
PC: Palace Resorts
In recent years, destination weddings have become increasingly popular, captivating even those who may not have previously considered them. If you’re planning to tie the knot in a different country, you’ll encounter the choice between a legal and symbolic wedding ceremony. You may be wondering, “What exactly is a symbolic wedding?” or “Is a symbolic wedding legally recognized?” or even “How does a symbolic ceremony differ from a civil ceremony?” This article will provide you with all the details you need to know about both legal (civil) and symbolic destination wedding ceremonies, empowering you to make the right decision for your special day.
Just like you would experience in your State, there will be documents and proof of identity required, along with any licensing fees. Some countries require notarized copies of your passport, divorce decree, or legal name change. Others will require translation of the documents into their language. For example, in Mexico, couples need to provide valid identification, undergo blood tests, and obtain a marriage license. The process may vary slightly depending on the location, so it’s important to research the specific destination you’re interested in.
Additionally, when doing a legal ceremony in a country where English is not their native language, there is no guarantee that your wedding will be officiated in English. In this case, a translator (usually the onsite wedding planner) will translate what the officiant says.
Then there will be government fees involved. For example, in Quintanaroo the fee for a legal ceremony is approximately $1,500.00.
Some countries will require witnesses (who are not related to you) to arrive with you on the same day.
Beyond that, most countries will also require a residency. For example, a requirement may be a 4-day residency and only business days (Monday-Friday) count toward your residency. Others may have a requirement of 48 hours and you can arrive any day of the week. Therefore, it’s crucial to verify the specific time frame for the destination where the couple intends to get married. Verifying the latest requirements directly with the local authorities or consulting with a wedding planner or travel advisor who specializes in destination weddings in Mexico is highly recommended. This ensures that the couple has the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the necessary time frame for a legal marriage in Mexico. By staying informed and allowing ample time for the legal preparations, couples can have a smoother and stress-free wedding experience in Mexico.
Don’t let this scare you! Some countries are super easy to get legally married in. One of the easiest countries to legally tie the knot is Aruba. There are no residency requirements and Civil Ceremonies take place in the City Hall Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday with Saturdays available for an extra fee. It all varies, so I generally advise my clients to do what is best for them based on the country they decide to get married in. Should you get married in Jamaica, there is a requirement that the couple must be legally married prior to having a symbolic ceremony. For couples who choose to have a symbolic ceremony in Jamaica, they must provide a valid marriage certificate as proof of their legal marriage. The symbolic ceremony is a way to celebrate and renew their vows in a beautiful destination, but the legal aspect must already be taken care of in their home country. This is the exception and not the rule in most destinations. This requirement ensures that the symbolic ceremony in Jamaica holds significance and serves as a meaningful celebration of an existing legal union.
I also suggest being flexible. You may be going into planning a legal destination wedding abroad assuming that you’ll be able to make it legally binding in the destination. Don’t let this pigeonhole you into only a handful of options.
· The moment you say “I Do” in front of your friends and family is the real deal.
· You won’t have to decide which day to celebrate your anniversary.
· It’s kind of cool to say you were legally married in “Mexico”
Next, let’s uncover the mystery of the symbolic wedding and discover everything you need to know. A symbolic wedding may appear and feel just like a civil wedding ceremony, but without the legal binding aspect. It’s similar to a commitment ceremony or a renewal of vows, allowing you to celebrate your love and commitment in a meaningful way. One advantage of choosing a symbolic ceremony is that it eliminates the need to deal with legal paperwork and potential language barriers. You can focus solely on the celebration and create a stress-free, unforgettable experience. Plus, symbolic ceremonies often have more flexibility in terms of location, theme, and customization options.
Choosing a symbolic destination wedding allows you to skip the legal requirements of getting married in another country. It’s a way to avoid any potential hassles or costs that may come with fulfilling those legal obligations.
Sometimes, couples will have certain family members who will not be able to travel with them so they choose to get married in the States before heading to their destination so that those family members can be a part of the union. This is often done as a Civil Ceremony at the courthouse prior to the destination wedding.
No matter your reason, with a symbolic destination wedding you will want to get married before heading to the destination because the country you are heading to will want a copy of your marriage records. To them, your ceremony is like a vow renewal, and they want to ensure you are legally married before officiating your ceremony. Make sense?
1. Less expensive
2. Not as much paperwork
3. No residency requirements
4. No translation of documents
5. Ceremony can be officiated by a family member or friend which makes it more meaningful
Regardless of whether couples choose a legal marriage or a symbolic ceremony, both Mexico and the Caribbean offer breathtaking settings for weddings. Pristine beaches, lush tropical landscapes, and stunning venues create the perfect backdrop for your special day. By understanding the differences between legal marriages and symbolic ceremonies, couples can make an informed decision that aligns with their preferences and ensures a memorable wedding experience.
In the end, what truly matters on your destination wedding day is you and your partner. How you choose to get married is not as important as the fact that it feels right for both of you. Whether you go for a legal or symbolic ceremony, what truly counts is the special meaning it holds for you. Remember, a wedding is not solely about paperwork; it’s about celebrating your love and creating lasting memories.
If you are in the midst of planning your dream destination wedding but are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Click on the link below to schedule a complimentary 60-minute strategy session with me. Together, we’ll figure out all the details for an unforgettable wedding experience, whether you’re looking for a legal or symbolic ceremony. Let’s make your destination wedding dreams come true!” 💍 Schedule a Complimentary Destination Wedding Consultation
Learn more about our Destination Wedding Planning services here.