How to Plan a Destination Wedding in Mexico | Travel and Leisure

Originally published by Travel and Leisure.

As wedding prices in the U.S. continue to climb, couples looking for an exciting but not-too-remote destination wedding are scoping out beautiful venues in Mexico. The expectation for international destination weddings is that they are more of a commitment for your guests — they have to renew their passports, book an international flight, and figure out international data plans. And while it’s true that you’re asking your guests to have an up-to-date passport to attend your Mexico wedding, there are plenty of destinations in Mexico that are less remote than certain parts of the U.S. Think of it this way: You can fly direct from New York to Cancun in four hours, whereas attending a wedding in Big Sur involves a six-hour flight from New York to San Francisco followed by a three-hour drive down the coast.

The average cost of an international destination wedding is $27,227, which is about $7,000 less than the average wedding in the U.S. The price tag is a little lower because the guest lists tend to be smaller and the venue fees can run lower. Furthermore, some couples hosting destination weddings in Mexico opt for wedding packages which offer a ceremony venue, reception, various activities, and a room block for a reduced rate.

I recently started planning my own destination wedding in Mexico, so I’m ready to bring you the inside scoop. How much will it cost, and how do you make it legal in Mexico? Here’s everything you need to know about planning your Mexico destination wedding.

Mexico Marriage Requirements

Getting legally married in Mexico can be a bit of a to do and the requirements may vary between different states. Generally, it requires a blood test 48 hours before the ceremony and the filing of all necessary documents in Mexico (including birth certificates and appropriate documentation of divorce or death if one or both parties is getting remarried). All this work needs to be completed at least two days before your wedding — which is also when you’re trying to entertain wedding guests. You’re required to do a ceremony entirely in Spanish for it to be legal in Mexico. If you don’t speak Spanish fluently, you’ll need to provide a translator. Many couples choose to marry legally in their home state and then do a symbolic ceremony in Mexico on their wedding day.

Local Traditions

A Mexico wedding tradition that’s very familiar to American couples is La Tornaboda. It’s an after party that follows the big wedding fiesta. You can include your entire guest list, or just your wedding party and family. Other classic Mexican wedding traditions include the money dance, which is a tradition that originally came from Spain. To wish the wedding couple good fortune in their married life, guests present cash to the wedding couple in exchange for a dance.

Mexico-specific Favors and Flavors

Erika de Lorenzo, wedding coordinator at Flora Farms in Cabo, says maracas are a popular wedding favor in Mexico. Guests will shake the maracas as the couple makes their grand exit from the ceremony or reception. De Lorenzo also recommends incorporating goodies from the wedding venue into the welcome bags. For example, Flora Farms has a farm shop, so often couples getting married there will have cookies or fresh fruit from the farm ready for the guests when they arrive at the hotel. Finally, weave in a favor that goes along with an activity you’re hosting that week. It’s common for destination wedding guests to do a group event — be it snorkeling, surfing, or a Mexican cooking class. If you’re planning a snorkeling excursion, provide sunscreen and flip flops. Lean into the sunny weather by providing personalized sunglasses or sun hats. If you’re worried about guests getting around, you can also provide Uber Events codes as part of the gift bag to help everyone get safely to and from the wedding.

When to Have your Mexico Destination Wedding

Mexico wedding season is generally from October to July. While couples still host weddings in the summer, temperatures can get well into the 90s, and hurricane season is from June to September. “I think that you would find the best weather from January to May,” says de Lorenzo. “The evenings can be a little chilly in the winter months, but guests normally don’t mind as it is generally much warmer than where they are visiting from!”

Just-married couple in Mexico

Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya extends well past Cancun down to Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and beyond. Choosing a spot outside Cancun makes your wedding slightly less accessible to guests — Tulum is a two-hour drive from the Cancun airport. Nonetheless, a more intimate ceremony may lend itself well to a luxury resort wedding at Banyan Tree Mayakoba or Papaya Playa Project in Tulum. The Riviera Maya is the perfect setting for a waterfront wedding, and you don’t need to get married right on the sand to have a beach ceremony. For example, at Papaya Playa Project, you can get married in their stunning wooden palapa overlooking the ocean.