With its year-round warm weather, idyllic scenery and close proximity to Canada's largest cities, Mexico has long been a popular destination for Canadians looking to tie the knot abroad. However, the country's hottest new vacation spot, the Riviera Nayarit, is completely changing Mexican destination weddings as we know them. This idyllic, recently-developed stretch of coastline, which runs from burgeoning Nuevo Vallarta in the south to Mexico’s longest beach, Playa Novillero, in the north, was officially baptized in 2007 and since then has become a favourite vacation spot for A-listers like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Home to some of the most exclusive hotel properties in the country, this the place to plan a chic celebration south of the border.
The best time to go: Consider booking your wedding in either the spring or fall for the best weather and more affordable rates. April, May, October and November are lovely months for a destination wedding in the Riviera Nayarit -- at these times you'll avoid both the Spring Break crowds and the typical winter fare hikes.
The flight: To access the Riviera, you'll fly into Puerto Vallarta's Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz international airport. You'll find a range of direct flights throughout the year offered by Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat and whether you're flying from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal, the trip will take you roughly five hours.
The legal paperwork: If you're looking for more than a symbolic celebration, you'll need to complete an "Application for Civil Marriage" at the region's Civil Registry Office upon arrival. Be prepared to present your passports, one additional form of photo identification, your birth certificates (translated into Spanish), as well as dissolution documents if either of you have been married before. You'll also need two witnesses. If your witnesses are not Mexican citizens, they must provide their Mexico entry visa or a tourist card, passports and another form of picture ID as well. Blood tests also need to be completed prior to your ceremony. These can normally be administered at your hotel with results in 24 hours. Other than the blood test, most of these formalities can typically be taken care of before you arrive in Mexico with the help of a wedding coordinator, but if you're planning on taking care of the paperwork yourself, plan to arrive in the country at least three days before your wedding date.
The venue: The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is our pick for the ultimate Mexican wedding destination. This five-star property is situated on a private strip of sand framed by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Located just 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta’s international airport, each suite at the St. Regis boasts its own outdoor terrace as well as an outdoor shower and, best of all, butler service so you won’t need to lift a finger during your time away. Choose from a range of jaw-dropping wedding venues, from Sea Breeze Beach (pictured above) to one of the resort's pool decks overlooking the ocean or its 2,600 square-foot ballroom. The wedding team at the St. Regis specializes in elegant, bespoke weddings with gourmet seasonal cuisine, impeccable service and understated decor that allows the natural beauty of the area to shine. Imagine airy fabrics, palms adorned with twinkle lights and the sand between your toes as you celebrate.
The local customs: The Riviera Nayarit has a particularly rich cultural heritage. The Huichols, a native Mexican tribe renown for their spiritualism and beautiful beaded artwork, has inhabited the area for more than five centuries. To truly connect with the area during your celebration, have your ceremony performed by a local Huichol priest or opt for a wedding cake designed to mimic a beaded Huichol sculpture. Both of these options are available at the St. Regis.
The budget: For a celebration at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort with about 50 guests you'll want to set aside roughly $35,000. This amount would cover a rehearsal barbecue on the beach with two hours of open bar, your ceremony, reception (and all of the necessary vendors) and a farewell brunch for your guests. Guests would be required to cover their own accommodations but group rates are available.
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