This article is from the October 1997 The Mexico File
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Si Accepto, Getting Married in Mexico
by Geri Anderson
Geri Anderson is a subscriber living in Oak Creek, Colorado. The following is an article about a vacationing couple who got married in Mexico. The steps and process may vary from town to town, but Andrea and Matthews story shows how two can tie the knot south of the border.
I first met Andrea at the Youth Hostel in San Miguel de Allende. She answered the doorbell when I arrived late at night because the staff and other hostellers were at a disco. Andrew stayed behind, thinking of the day when Matthew would arrive.
Weary from traveling from the mountains of Colorado to this picturesque colonial town in central Mexico, I wanted to flop immediately into a bunk, sin conversation. The next morning at breakfast, I learned that Andrea and Matthew, who lived on a farm in northern Maine, might get married in Mexico.
During the two weeks before Matthew arrived, Andrea found an apartment, moved out of the hostel, and enrolled in a course at Belles Artes, the National Art Center. We frequently ran into each other on the street, in the jardin,and at various art shows. Each time she would have a new bit of information. Yes, it was definite. They were going to get married.
I first met Matthew in the jardin playing his backpack guitar. He spent the mornings there while Andrea was in class, then she met him for lunch. Most days, several mariachis joined him and the group happily strummed the hours away. One day as I approached, Andrea and Matthew were headed to the Oficinas del Gobierno del Estado, the state offices across from the San Francisco church. I invited myself along.
Dr. Vega, who said he was a judge, ushered us into his private office. A tall, handsome man, he patiently explained what was needed in order to get married. He spoke very little English. Andrea knows some Spanish and so, by repeating everything carefully and slowly, the soon-to-be-marrieds learned that they needed two copies of: their birth certificates, their passports, and proof of residence in San Miguel (the rent receipt would do). They also needed to get blood tests at a laboratory a few doors away at a cost of $25 for the two.
At one point, no matter how Dr. Vega worded it, Andrea could not understand what he was saying. He could not think of the English word, so he opened his desk drawer and pulled out a small electronic transcriber. "Ah," he said, "results, results de laboratorio." And, he added, holding up four fingers, "You need four witnesses."
"Four?" Andrea and Matt said in unison. They looked at me, and I nodded.
As we left the office, Matthew turned to Dr. Vega. "How much will this cost?" As new head of household, money was very much on his mind. The cost was $700 pesos, plus tip...more than $100US.
This initial appointment was on Thursday, and they were to return the following Monday with their documentation. At that appointment all their papers were in order except, Dr. Vega noted, they needed a medical exam. He gave them the name of a doctor.
The doctor, who charged them $25, took their blood pressure and listened to their hearts. "Oh, you have a strong heart," he told Matthew. "You will have ten sons." Matthew thought to himself, "Two will be quite enough, thank you." But secretly, having a heart strong enough to produce ten sons pleased him.
The week was filled with buying wedding clothes, getting their rings and finding witnesses. They had a jeweler custom-craft solid silver bands. Andrea chose a gauzy white cotton ankle-length dress with shirred bodice. Matthew bought a smart linen shirt.
Andrea asked her art teacher and Tina (an artist she saw painting in the park) to be witnesses. Matthew solicited Robbie, the manager of the Youth Hostel. Also they ran into Clarence, a friend from a previous visit, and invited him. Andreas twin sister, Pam, arrived unexpectedly for the event. We all showed up, along with Robbies parents who were vacationing in San Miguel, in Dr. Vegas small office at the scheduled hour.
However, the paperwork took two full hours. A clerk typed each of several forms on a manual typewriter, laboriously pounding the keys hard so that the original and seven carbon copies would be legible. (The ceremony was legal, Dr. Vega assured me...Andrea and Matthew could pick up their marriage certificate at the U.S. Consulate in Estados Unidos.)
Dr. Vega recited the marriage vows, in Spanish and from memory. At the end the couple agreed to the eleven points by saying, "si accepto." Although the vows are old-fashioned and traditional by modern U.S. standards, the marriage will certainly last if the two fulfill them. Since there was no provision in the ceremony for the exchange of rings, Andrea and Matthew did that after completing the vows.
Next, we all gathered at Restaurante Fonda for pitchers of margueritas, wine and an entre of Michoacan-style rabbit. Later, Matthews mariachi friends serenaded the couple in the jardin.
Although getting married in Mexico certainly isnt easy or cheap, there is no doubt that it is romantic.
THE MARRIAGE VOWS
- Marriage is the only moral foundation of the family, to preserve the species and to supplement the imperfections of the individual who is unable alone to reach human perfection.
- The human race does not exist in the single person, but only in the conjugal pairing.
- The married partners should be sacred to one another, even more than one tends to be to himself.
- The man, who is the principal source of courage and strength, should and will give the woman protection, nourishment and direction. He should treat her always as the more delicate and sensitive partner and generously offer her his strength, especially in her time of need.
- The woman, whose principal talents are self-sacrifice, beauty, compassion, keen insight and tenderness, should and will give her husband obedience, pleasure, assistance, consolation and advice. She should treat him always with a delicacy and with the respect due to the one who supports and defends her.
- Each deserves respect, deference, fidelity, confidence and tenderness, and both should make every effort to reach out to one another and not contradict their unity.
- Both should attempt to control their faults.
- Never should they trade insults because the injury to the relationship would show a lack of keen insight and good judgment that could damage the strength of their union.
- Both should be willing to correct their faults, and to strive for the highest standards of parenthood to set a good example for their children.
- .The principles which inspire these tender and loving bonds of affection will bear the fruits of good or bad fortune; an the happiness or misfortune of the children will become the reward and good fortune of the parents or their punishment and misery.
- .Society blesses, considers well, and praises parents who raise their children to become good citizens. The same society censures and rightly condemns those who fail to properly love or give good example to their sacred charges.