A civil marriage is the only Mexican marriage that changes your marital status from ‘single’ to ‘married’, and the only Mexican marriage recognized in other countries.
What couples must provide:
- Visa (given all travellers upon entering Mexico OR the forms are sometimes given passengers in-flight then Mexican Immigration stamps the form upon landing)
- Four witnesses; basic data on each witness is required for the civil registry forms.
- Divorce paperwork if applicable.
- Blood tests (blood type, RH factor, syphilis and HIV screen). Tests must be done in Mexico and performed within 14 days of the wedding date.
A strictly religious/spiritual marriage ceremony of whatever denomination is considered a private affair between individuals into which the government does not enter.
Couples who choose the religious/spiritual option–and many do–simply get legally married before coming to Mexico or after going home either by a justice of the peace or at their local court house or civil registry or however their respective states/countries handle legal marriages. Couples interested in a religious/spiritual wedding are provided with a list of clergy and advised as to requisites–but generally there are none (no paperwork to file, no government fees to pay, no blood tests etc.). Some clergy ask for proof of legal marriage before performing the religious ceremony, but most do not. One or two witnesses are usually requested and the couple is given a ‘Marriage Certificate’ generated by the church to which the celebrant belongs.
To recreate the perfect environment, full of magic and mysticism, the wedding should take place amidst copal incense smoke (an aromatic resin considered sacred and purifying of the environment), flowers, veils and torches or lamps. In front of the couple, the shaman or Mayan priest will evoke the four elements: water, earth, wind and fire, so that their presence may strengthen and bless the union for many years. Finally, the union of the couple is sealed with the exchange of rings or other token that represents the marriage and pledges.
The music that accompanies the event could be wind instruments and percussions (which date back to pre-Hispanic times) or live classical violin of guitar music, which can extend beyond the ceremony into the dinner celebration.