By Judy Waytiuk
Maybe it was spring breaks spent in Cancun that got them hooked on Mexico, or vacations in Puerto Vallarta with their parents when they were kids, or winter holidays along the Riviera Maya. Whatever the reason, more and more couples want to get hitched in Mexico. According to Conde Nast’s Bridal Group Infobank and Modern Bride magazine, there’s been a 200 per cent increase in destination wedding business in the past decade. And Mexico’s sunset-dappled sand beaches, traditional haciendas and palm-lined ocean bays see a big chunk of that business.
Happily, wedding and honeymoon packaging has matured in recent years into a thriving sub-industry in Mexico’s tourism sector, from all-inclusive resorts offering price-point-packaged weddings and honeymoons to tiny colonial hacienda gems willing to assemble the intimate, elegant wedding of the bride’s dreams.
At Hacienda Petac (www.haciendapetac.com) outside Merida, small group packages offer the hacienda and its seven bedrooms for small weddings, including transportation from and to Merida for guests staying at hotels in the fabled White City. The all-inclusive wedding package here runs US $12,500 for 50 guests, US $6,500 for 25 with the full package, or up to 100 with most pieces of the package for as little as US $6,500. Lodging for bride and groom plus 10 guests, including three meals daily, non-alcoholic beverages and all taxes runs US $2,000 per night.
For the ceremony itself, in the hacienda gardens, “they can do up to 120 guests. In the chapel, the church on the grounds, that holds about 45,” said Dev Stern, the property owner. All the hacienda staff are Mayan.
It’s even possible now to have a traditional Mayan marriage ceremony. “The priests that we use at the hacienda are all truly Mayan descendants and they’re really quite authentic,” Stern added. “Often the brides plan itineraries as well for their guests, so they’re guided in their activities.”
Throw in a honeymoon spent (well, partly) in one of the magnificently-refurbished airy rooms with traditional furnishings, over-the-top bathrooms and high beamed ceilings, and newlyweds will treasure their nuptial memories forever.
For a list of dozens of wedding-worthy haciendas around Mexico, check out weddinghaciendasofmexico.com
Karisma Hotels & Resorts
First, Paperwork. Then Love.
Before the romantic version of the ceremony, a civil ceremony is required by law in Mexico. Without it, you’re not legally married. In Mexico, religious ceremonies are held after the religious minister confirms you are legally married, and both ceremonies usually take place on the same day. More often, couples choose symbolic ceremonies that assume they’ll have a civil ceremony back in their home country.
If the civil ceremony’s performed in Mexico, most large hotels and resorts can arrange for a judge and even the required witnesses, and the Mexican marriage certificate can be authenticated so it’s valid back in Canada. By law, a Spanish-speaking judge must perform the ceremony along with an English translator – and there’s no tinkering allowed with the wording in this ceremony.
Happy couples must have clear copies of their birth certificates, passports, drivers’ licences, the Tourism Immigration form they received when entering Mexico, and clear copies of any divorce decrees. Blood tests are required within the week before the ceremony and most wedding packages bought through larger hotels or destination wedding planners can include an onsite technician to do the test right at the resort.
Resort To A Resort
Most large all-inclusive resorts these days have either an on-staff wedding planner or a professional planner nearby who can take on all the ground-level details for the bride and groom – well in advance. Planners urge brides to get rolling at least a year, preferably 18 months to two years, prior to the event if they want to be sure of having exactly what they want from flowers to music to dates to gowns to locations.
Many resorts offer full or partial refunds on initial “site inspection”/vacation visits if the couple does then book the wedding there. Some offer “free weekend” planning visits. All offer considerably discounted room rates with the higher the number of guests, the bigger the discount.
Some resorts will do the wedding for free, with enough room bookings – for example, the Free Sweet Wedding Package offered at El Dorado Royale and Casitas Royale, El Dorado Seaside Suites, El Dorado Maroma, Azul Sensatori and Azul Fives comes with a minimum seven-night stay for the bride and groom plus 15 additional room nights for guests staying in casita suites, swim up suites, premium or higher suites, or one bedroom suites in the applicable resorts.
Other resorts have forgone “everything in” single-price packages for quotes tailored to specific planning requests.
Sunwing and Signature Vacations offer a great selection of all-inclusive resorts with wedding and honeymoon packages for the bride and groom to choose. All Sunwing and Signature Vacations flights include “Sunwing Airlines’ Champagne Service” offering choice of hot meals with wine, headsets, hot towels and movies – all at no extra charge.
For “on-impulse” weddings, a resort can scramble up a delightful, intimate, elegant event on much less notice – even a day’s worth – especially if the couple is just seeking a simple, sandy, sunset ceremony with a few friends, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and white tablecloths fluttering in the gentle evening breeze off the ocean. There are bound to be more than a few hibiscus or bougainvillea blossoms around for a bridal hair adornment.
For an overview of planning and planners, look up
Guests Get Going
One big practical advantage of a wedding thrown in Mexico is that the guest list will be pared down to the people the couple really, really wants to see there – those who care enough about the bride and groom to be willing to fork over the costs of their own airfare and rooms. And the guests almost always combine the wedding celebration with vacations of their own, pre- or post-nuptials.
Most couples choose a Mexico wedding because they’ve fallen in love not only with each other, but with a specific Mexico destination – and that means they are well-equipped to steer their guests to places, activities, and shops and restaurants in the area that the couple has discovered in the past, and would love to see again. The Mexican wedding can become one great big week-long moveable party – or be an intimate interlude of newly-married tropical bliss.