Which Destination Wedding Is
Right for You?
Symbolic vs Legal
Many couples choose to be legally married in a quiet, sometimes secret wedding ceremony in the United States. Each couple approaches this in a different way. Some choose to tell family & friends that their destination wedding will be symbolic, others prefer to hold the destination ceremony as if it were their legal marriage, never revealing the prior U.S. marriage. A symbolic ceremony can be less expensive and less stressful than a legal marriage in a foreign country since there are no legal requirements that must be met.
The symbolic ceremony is a great choice for busy couples that prefer to bypass gathering and completing the documentation required for a legally binding marriage in a foreign country.
There are requirements that must be met for a legal marriage to take place in a foreign country and each island has their own rules & regulations. Some are very strict, some are moderately strict and others are simple. We'll walk you through the steps and make you aware of what's required for your destination.
For example, the Dominican Republic requires that birth certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates and/or name change documents, if applicable along with Single Status Declarations be apostilled (legalized) then translated into Spanish, after which the translations must also be apostilled. Single Status Declarations must be notarized.
The information below gives you a general guide to the documents and requirements needed for a legally-binding marriage ceremonies.
The requirements will differ depending on the island, but be prepared. to present the items listed below, except for the blood test & chest x-ray, needed only by certain states in Mexico.
We use a service that legalizes your documents and has them translated by a certified translator. We suggest that you start at least 6 months in advance, especially if you don't have all of your certified documents on hand, but if you're prepared to move ahead and your U.S. documents are in order, we can turn them around in as little as 3 weeks and be prepared for a legal marriage. Doing it that fast isn't cheap, but it's possible.
General Requirements For Legally Binding Marriage
Valid U.S. Passport - Original & Copy
Picture ID - Original & Copy
Entry Visa or Tourist Card - Original & Copy
State issued Birth Certificate with raised seal - Original & Copy
Minimum Stay Requirements - 24 to 72 hours before wedding
Minimum Age Requirement - 18
Proof of Divorce (If applicable; Decree must have raised seal & Judge's signature)
Certified death certificate (If applicable; Must have raised seal)
Single Status Declarations (Must include parent's full names and be signed before a notary for legal marriage in the Dominican Republic.)
Completed Civil Marriage Application
Valid passports for all witnesses - Original & Copy
Adoption/Name Change Documentation - (If applicable, must have raised seal)
Original & Copy
ALL DOCUMENTS except passports must be translated into the local language by a certified translation service.
ALL DOCUMENTS except passports must be legalized (apostilled) and the translations legalized (apostilled).
Dominican Republic Tourism: www.godominicanrepublic.com
Dominican Republic Consulate, Washington D.C. Phone: (202) 332-7670
Jamaica Tourist Board: www.visitjamaica.com
The U.S. Mexican Consulate, Washington, D.C. Phone: (202)736-1000
*We highly discourage being married in Mexico. Recently, the U.S. issued tourist advisories for several popular tourist areas amid reports of rampant crime. Cancun officials have been caught charging over $600 for a $30 USD marriage permit, leaving U.S. couples no choice but to pay or not be married. We suggest any one of the many other wonderful locations available until such time as Mexico makes the necessary corrections to safely and honestly receive tourists again.