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Commitment to Customs

When it comes to weddings in Cancun, historic traditions withstand the test of time

While the advent of the destination wedding has certainly brought a contemporary flare to nuptials in Cancun, locals often prefer a ceremony that is much more traditional and often religious in nature.

Whether you plan to have a traditional Mexican ceremony, or a more modern affair, there are some legal matters to be taken care of first.

Local Wedding Customs

The Mexican ceremony is a very ritualistic one, steeped in tradition.  You might find that incorporating some of these customs into your own ceremony or reception is important to you, or a fun way to honor the country in which you are tying the knot. 

Long before the wedding day, and even before the engagement, Mexican marriage traditions begin to unfold.  Up to a year before the groom-to-be proposes marriage, he gives the bride-to-be a promise ring, asking her to remain faithful to him, and in time he will make her his wife.  If all goes well, this ring will later be replaced with an actual engagement ring, and the wedding planning can begin.

On the day of the wedding, the bride and her bridesmaids gather at the home of the bride's mother to prepare for the event.  The bride will not wear a plain white dress, as is a traditional western custom.  Instead, Mexican brides wear white dresses that are embroidered with lots of color.  A bolero jacket, or a dress reminiscent of a ruffly flamenco dress are also common.  Sewn into the brides undergarments will be three ribbons, in the colors of yellow, red, and blue, to symbolize the wish of food, money, and passion for her marriage.  As an accessory, a bride might choose to carry a fan or a bouquet of flowers.  The brides attendants (and most guests) will wear red to the ceremony.  Before leaving for the ceremony, the bride's mother will lead the bride in prayer.

The bride and the groom will not see each other on their wedding day until the ceremony begins, for it is bad luck to do so.  As the bride walks down the aisle towards her groom, she will see him dressed similar to a bullfighter in tight, dark pants, and a bolero jacket.

Because many Mexicans are raised in the Roman Catholic faith, the wedding ceremony typically follows Catholic mass, with a few extra traditions integrated in.  Some of the most important wedding rituals include the gift of gold coins from the bride to the groom, the kissing of the cross, the offering of the bouquet to the Virgin Mary, and the long string of rosary beads lassoed around the couples necks in order to symbolize unity.

After the bride and groom have joined together in matrimony, a mariachi band will typically play the recessional, and guests will throw rice and red rosary beads at the couple.  Some guests might shoot off guns to ward off any evil spirits. 

The rituals don't stop here.  At the reception, there is much to be done.  Guests will first form a circle around the bride and groom for their first dance as man and wife.  Another fun tradition is the money dance, in which guests of the wedding will take turns dancing up to the couple and pinning a gift of money to their clothing.  Optional reception music includes a mariachi band, a salsa band, or a flamenco band.  While the adults are having a fun time dancing, the children might be taking turns hitting a piñata in hopes of being the first kid to knock candies and prizes out of it.

The reception menu will often include foods that seem typical of Mexico: tortillas, beans, rice, and various meats.  The cake will commonly be a fruitcake of pineapples and coconuts, that is soaked with wine and topped with frosting. After filling up on food and drink, wedding guests will head home with a small party favor to remember the day by.

Modern Requirements

Cancun has one of the most complicated marriage license applications of the Caribbean nations.  That shouldn't deter you from getting married at your dream destination.  By learning what will be required of you ahead of time, and taking the process step-by-step, a wedding in Cancun is hardly out of reach.

In order to obtain a marriage license in Cancun, foreigners will need to be in Cancun for three days before the ceremony to present the following items to the Oficina del Registro Civil at Margaritas St #31 SM 22:

  • Certified copies of Divorce Certificate if one or more parties has been divorced.
  • Certified copies of Death Certificate if one of the parties is a widow or widower.
  • Certified copies of adoption certificates that reflect any name changes.
  • Certified copies of birth certificates.
  • Original or photocopy of photo identification for each party.
  • Passport.
  • FMT Tourist card (which you should receive at the airport upon arrival).
  • Application and official oath of truthfulness.
  • Original health certificates that are less than 15 days old for each person. Included on these certificates should be blood test results no older than 14 days old, stating blood type and test results for HIV, VDRL, IRH and RPR.  Blood tests are required in order to be married in Cancun.

It is also a requirement that the bride and groom each have two witnesses.  These witnesses must provide the registrar with their name, address, age, nationality, and tourist card number.

Note that all legal documents submitted must be translated into Spanish and certified by an apostille. 

In order to be married in the Catholic church in Cancun, couples must submit the following to the church:

  • Certificates of baptism.
  • Certificates of confirmation.
  • Passport sized photos of the bride and the groom.
  • Proof of premarital counseling.

After you are married, the Cancun Wedding Consulate will send your original marriage certificate to the capital city of Chetumel, where it will be legally sealed.  It will then be mailed to your home address.  This process may take one to two months to complete.  In the meantime, you will take home a certified copy so that you might take care of any legal matters regarding your marriage (such as name change) back home.

Despite requiring a lot of legwork on the part of the bride and groom, those who have done it before still say that getting married in Cancun was like a dream come true.  Whether you decide to integrate Mexican traditions into your ceremony, or carve your own blissful path, beginning your new life in Cancun will provide you and your beloved with memories that will last a lifetime.


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