Los Cabos Feature

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Weddings and Honeymoons

Mexico is a growing wedding and honeymoon destination. Many area hotels—from boutiques to internationally known brands—offer honeymoon packages and professional wedding planners. Although Mexican law dictates that an obligatory civil ceremony must accompany the Big Event, you can get married in a house of worship, on a beach, at a hotel chapel, or on a yacht or sailboat.

Choosing the Perfect Place. Los Cabos is growing in popularity as a Mexican wedding and honeymoon destination. Many couples choose to marry on the beach, often at sunset because it's cooler and more comfortable for everyone; others chuck the whole weather conundrum and marry in an air-conditioned resort ballroom.

The luxury of enjoying your wedding and honeymoon in one place has a cost: you may find it hard to have some alone time with your sweetie with all your family and friends on hand for days before and days after the main event. Consider booking an all-inclusive, which has plenty of meal options and activities to keep your guests busy. This will make it easier for them to respect your privacy and stick to mingling with you and your spouse at planned times.

Wedding Attire. Some women choose a traditional full wedding gown with veil, but more popular and comfortable—especially for an outdoor wedding—is a simple sheath or a white cotton or linen dress that will breathe in the tropical heat. Some brides opt for even less formal attire: anything from a sundress to shorts or a bathing suit.

Weddings on the beach are best done barefoot, even when the bride wears a gown. Choose strappy sandals for a wedding or reception that's not on the sand; forget the notion of stockings: it's usually too hot and humid. Whatever type of attire you choose, purchase it and get any alterations done before leaving home. (There's virtually no place here to do either.) Buy a special garment bag and hand-carry your dress on the plane. Don't let this be the one time in your life that your luggage goes missing.

The groom and any groomsmen can take their what-to-wear cue from the female half of the wedding party, but know that Los Cabos has no place to rent formal attire.

Time of Year. Planning according to the weather can be critical for a successful Los Cabos wedding. If you're getting married in your bathing suit, you might not mind some heat and humidity, but will your venue—and your future mother-in-law—hold up under the summer heat? We recommend substituting the traditional June wedding that's so suitable for New England with one held between November and February. March through June is usually dry but extremely warm and humid.

By July, the heat can be unbearable for an outdoor afternoon wedding. Summer rains, rarely voluminous in Los Cabos, begin to fall here in July. Although hurricanes are rarer along the Pacific than the Caribbean, they can occur August through late October and even early November. For an outdoor wedding, establish a detailed backup plan in case the weather lets you down.

Finding a Wedding Planner. Hiring a wedding planner will minimize stress for all but the simplest of ceremonies. The slogan of one firm here is: "if you have the groom and the dress, we can do the rest." And a planner really can. A year or more in advance, the planner will, among other things, help choose the venue, find a florist, and arrange for a photographer and musicians.

The most obvious place to find a wedding planner is at a resort hotel that becomes wedding central: providing accommodations for you and your guests, the wedding ceremony venue, and the restaurant or ballroom for the reception. But you can also hire an independent wedding coordinator; just Google "Los Cabos wedding" and you'll get tons of hits. Unless you're fluent in Spanish, make sure the person who will be arranging one of your life's milestones speaks and understands English well. (Most here do.) Ask for references, and check them.

When interviewing a planner, talk about your budget, and ask about costs. Are there hourly fees or one fee for the whole event? How available will the consultant and his or her assistants be? Which vendors are used and why? How long have they been in business? Request a list of the exact services they'll provide, and get a proposal in writing. If you don't feel this is the right person or agency for you, try someone else. Cost permitting, it's helpful to meet the planner in person.

Requirements. Getting a bona fide wedding planner will obviously facilitate completing the required paperwork and negotiating the legal requirements for marrying in Mexico. Blood tests must be done upon your arrival, but not more than 14 days before the ceremony. All documents must be translated by an authorized translator from the destination, and it's important to send these documents certified mail to your wedding coordinator at least a month ahead of the wedding.

You'll also need to submit an application for a marriage license as well as certified birth certificates (bring the original with you to Los Cabos, and send certified copies ahead of time). If either party is divorced or widowed, official death certificate or divorce decree must be supplied, and you must wait one year to remarry after the end of the previous marriage. (There's no way around this archaic requirement, still on the books, designed to ensure that no lingering pregnancy remains from a former marriage. It doesn't matter whether you're 25 or 75.) The bride, groom, and four witnesses will also need to present passports and tourist cards. Wedding planners can round up witnesses if you don't have enough or any.

Since religious weddings aren't officially recognized in Mexico, a civil ceremony (matrimonio civil) is required, thus making your marriage valid in your home country as well. (It's the equivalent of being married in front of a justice of the peace.) Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo each have one civil judge who performs marriages, a good reason to start planning months in advance. Often for an extra fee, the judge will attend the site of your wedding if you prefer not to go to an office. Civil proceedings take about 10 minutes, and the wording is fixed in Spanish. Most wedding planners will provide an interpreter if you or your guests don't speak the language. For a Catholic ceremony, a priest here will expect evidence that you've attended the church's required pre-wedding sessions back home. If you're planning a Jewish wedding, you'll need to bring your rabbi with you: Los Cabos has no synagogues. Another option is to be married (secretly?) in your own country and then hold the wedding event without worrying about all the red tape.

Although same-sex civil unions are now legal in Mexico City and the northern state of Coahuila, and measures are likely or pending in six other Mexican states, Baja California Sur, where Los Cabos is located, is not one of them. A few Los Cabos wedding planners have organized same-sex commitment ceremonies, but these have no legal standing.

Updated: 2013-08-23

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