By Julie Etra
At first I questioned whether there was a difference between two foreigners marrying, versus a Mexican marrying a non-Mexican, and then a Mexican marrying a Mexican. Not that much difference except for some paperwork. Most of time, according to my local sources, foreigners are here for the reception (party), for the setting, and for the novelty. However, if you want to be legally married here there are a number of required steps, and they don’t involve finding the preferred religious institution, since legal marriages are performed by a civil judge; marriages by religious institutions or figures are not recognized. Via the Hague Convention, the United States has recognized marriages in Mexico since 1954.
Assuming you are a foreigner who wants to legally marry here, it helps immensely to have a wedding coordinator who will make sure all procedures are done legally and translations are correct. All documents, including the application, must be in Spanish.
People under the age of 18 may not get married in Mexico without parental consent; boys have to be at least 16 and girls at least 14 years old. Blood tests are required and they must be performed in Mexico, you CAN’T have it done elsewhere and bring the results. Although it varies from state to state, you may also need chest x-rays. These also have to be done in Mexico, within an acceptable time frame for completion of the required Marriage Application Form (whatever that time frame is). If you are a foreigner you will need copies of all travel documents (passport, visa or permanent resident card). Other requirements are copies of birth certificates and two witnesses. If either the bride or groom has been divorced you will need proof. Most places require that BOTH the bride or groom wait at least one full calendar year (starting from the date of final divorce decree) before re-marrying. However, in Quintana Roo, home to the popular destination resort of Cancun, only women who have been previously married may not re-marry for 300 calendar days following the date of the divorce decree unless during that time they have given birth or can prove, again with the proper certification, that they are not pregnant. Widowed? If either party is widowed, the death certificate of the deceased spouse will be needed as part of the documentation requirements. UGH.
Cost varies by physical location of the ceremony date, site in which it takes place, and date (day of week, holidays, etc.) The simplest and cheapest way to apply is through the Local Registry Office. However, it is FREE on Valentine’s Day. How civilized! After the civil ceremony has taken place you will need to verify its legality by obtaining a certified copy of the marriage certificate (Acta de Matrimonio) in accordance with Mexican law, and only then will the marriage will be recognized.
Further, most foreigners would be shocked by the enlightened roles of Mexican men and women as expressed through the Federal Marriage Message (vows), of which the following is a rough translation: “Here lies the essence of the couple. You are making of yourselves a small engine, which will energize the world around you through your actions and through those of the children that you take the responsibility to invite into the world. You face each other eye to eye; you are two equals, with no duties, rights, or obligations which apply only to one of you”. None of the obedience or death till we part stuff, if you can handle the paperwork.