FAQs About Baja Weddings
What do I need to know about weddings in Baja?
Newly engaged couples starting to make their plans may wonder what they need to do if they decide to plan a Baja California wedding. Unlike weddings in the U.S., it is important to take note that in Mexico, there are two weddings: the civil wedding and a non-denominational or religious wedding. The civil wedding is legally required to change your martial status and the non-denominational or religious wedding is a personal decision.
Where can the civil wedding be performed?
The civil wedding may be done either:
- Before you go to Baja - for example in a California courthouse (this is considered legal worldwide)
- In Mexico - a few days before your wedding ceremony
Why do some couples have their civil wedding in the U.S. first?
Many couples opt for a civil wedding for example in California because the procedure is much simpler than doing it in Mexico. Some requirements in Mexico include blood tests and results can take a couple of days to receive. California has no blood test requirement. To learn about civil ceremonies in San Diego, visit the official website of the San Diego Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk.
Once in Baja, they have their non-denominational or Catholic wedding and a reception with family and friends at the the venue of their choosing.
What is the civil wedding in Mexico like?
The civil wedding ceremony in Baja is very similar to going to your local county courthouse to be married by a Justice of the Peace. In a Mexican judge's chambers, you will be married in a short service where the vows you make to each other are set by the government (and can't be altered). This kind of ceremony changes your official marital status from 'single' to 'married' and will be recognized in any country in the world including the U.S. The service itself will be performed in Spanish, so if you aren't fluent it may be a good idea to bring along a translator.
What do you need to participate in a legal civil marriage ceremony in Mexico?
- Original, certified copies of your birth certificates
- Copies of your tourist visa forms
- Lab work (must be completed in Mexican state where you will be married; e.g. Baja California Norte or Sur)
- Your official divorce decree(s) if you have been previously married
It is important to consult with a professional wedding planner or visit the government authority to find out the details of how this is done in the Mexican state you will be married in.
The Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony
A Non-Denominational ceremony in Baja looks more like the typical U.S. wedding. You may hold your ceremony in a special location like the beach at sunset or in a luxury hotel, and have the service performed by an officiant of your choosing. You can also add personal touches to make your wedding unique and memorable such as individualized wedding vows, flowers, music, and readings by friends or family members. Important note: This kind of service is beautiful, but does not change your legal married status. You will still have to participate in a civil wedding (either in your home country, or in Mexico) in order to be considered married in the eyes of the law.
The Catholic Wedding Ceremony
Catholic wedding ceremonies are also available for foreigners in Mexico, but take several months to arrange. You will first need to arrange permission from your parish priest to marry outside of your parish, and the permission itself must be approved by the parish's diocese. You will then need to take your Pre-Cana classes and receive your Pre-Cana certificate before the wedding. The official documents required for a Catholic wedding must be received by the parish performing your Catholic wedding and mass at least 30 days prior to your ceremony. Depending on the Mexican parish where you choose to be married, your wedding and mass may be conducted in Spanish. Important note: This kind of service is beautiful, but does not change your legal married status.