Where better to say “I do” than Mexico’s Mayan Riviera?

Imagine your wedding day, standing at the oceans edge at sunset with your toes wiggling in the warm, soft, white sand, pelicans scooping fish from the sea, translucent shades of glistening, turquoise water extend out from shore, the soothing sounds of the waves wash over you, and tropical breezes stir in the palms. You’re in love with everything around you and everything is in love with you.

Destination weddings are growing in popularity and nowhere are they more magical than on Mexico’s beautiful Mayan Riviera.

The Mayan Riviera, or “Riviera Maya” as the locals call it, begins at Cancun in Mexico and runs all the way to Tulum. Along this Caribbean coast are luxurious resorts from intimate to grand, child friendly to adults only and they’re prepared to make your wedding dreams a reality.

The most luxurious, oceanfront wedding destination, Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla is tailor-made for romance. It’s nestled into a stunning little bay, surrounded by a lush tropical mangrove preserve for ultimate privacy, and offers up views of Cozumel Island across the turquoise waters.

The resort has a Mayan ecological feeling with outstanding rooms of the best modern Mexican design, some with private swim-up pools, all with their own outdoor Jacuzzis where you can bask together and soak up stunning views of the seas.

Director of Romance, Maria Gomez is a wedding planner who can customize your day of romance down to the last detail. “We can help create any custom wedding,” says Maria complete with necessary documentation, welcome reception, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception. “We also arrange many special events like proposals, renewal of vows, and anniversaries and for many kinds of weddings from Hindu, Jewish, catholic, civil and even Mayan.”

Maria’s advise to brides planning a wedding in the sunny south? Plan on buying as much as you can in Mexico. “Today with the popularity of weddings in Mexico, there’s very little we cannot get here, and it’s often cheaper to get it here than to bring it with you.”

Of course, that doesn’t apply to a wedding dress but airlines like Sunwing (www.singwing.ca) now have special overhead cabins on board that are specifically designated for the delicate handling and transporting of wedding dresses.

Because of the different laws in various countries, Maria simplifies the technicalities by recommending, “most couples have a civil service at home and have their wedding ceremony here”. As far as costs compare, Maria points out that beyond the flights and accommodation, the remaining wedding expenses are comparable to organizing a wedding at home, “but the affect is much, much greater.”

At Paradisus, wedding parties range from small groups of 15 guests to large weddings of 400 people and more. The ceremony can be a casual, barefoot-on-the-beach event or a more formal wedding outdoors under a candlelit palapa with guests in gowns and white tuxedos. “After the ceremonies, newlyweds traditionally fly off to a secret honeymoon destination for privacy.”

There’s plenty for your guests to do during their weeklong stay. Some might want their choice of beaches to relax on, enjoy the amenities of the large swim up pools with full beverage features or take in a guacamole cooking class, tequila tasting or spa treatment. Others can choose walks into the old town of Playa del Carmen with attractions such as Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue, Xcaret, Akumal, Xel-Ha, and near world-famous Mayan archaeological sites such as Tulum, Chichén Itzá and Cobá.

Paradisus offers special packages for engaged couples to visit the resort, experience the facilities, meet with Maria and taste the food prior to committing their wedding plans. “It gives brides a level of trust necessary for them to leave so many details in my hands”, says Maria who has been organizing long-distance weddings for over 13 years.

“Brides are very particular about what they want and the closer it comes to the wedding date, the more jittery they become”, but with the assistance of modern communication technology and Maria’s competent expertise, situations rarely get out of hand. “We become so close, I’m usually the first one to shed a tear at the ceremony.”

The wedding packages at Paradisus are assembled on an a la carte basis, making it possible for brides to choose only what they truly want for their wedding and with Maria’s help, take the romance factor on your special day into overdrive. For a traditional wedding, Maria advises on taking approximately one week to perfect the details on the welcome reception, spa treatments, the rehearsal event, wedding ceremony, and reception on the beach or in one of their 12 beautifully themed restaurants. You can request your wedding cake, favours, centerpieces, place cards, flowers, table linen, entertainment bookings, and other decorations months in advance and make final adjustments during the week.

Weddings come with all the attentive grace and elegance you would expect from this exclusive Mayan Riviera resort. Royal Service offers private check-in service complete with a glass of champagne, and assignment of your very own personal butler whose job it is to make your stay perfect. For example, you may want your pillows scented with romance, your large bathtub filled with bubbles or rose petals, or a bottle of champagne chilled complete with frozen champagne glasses left in your room when you return from dinner. All La Perla residents have their own private restaurant, La Palapa, private beach access, a fitness room and full privileges to the luxurious 20,000 square foot, indoor and outdoor spa.

Gastronomy is a priority for French trained, Michelin star Chef Laurent Brouchard who takes a personal interest in every wedding. Chef Brouchard oversees the 14 restaurants on site from casual gourmet to formal cuisine. Passion is the signature restaurant of the resort offering world-class international cuisine and La Palepa is the private restaurant of La Perla residents and it offers more romance in the menu selections. Chef Brochard is available to advise brides on the most appropriate menu for the climate and occasion.

Let’s face it. Brides have more wedding options today than at any other time. The World Wide Web makes shopping for international weddings easier than ever but nothing can replace good old fashion trust, and experience in one of the most romantic wedding destinations, the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

[box type=”shadow”] Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla
www.paradisuslaperla.com
394 Royal Service suites
This adults-only luxury All-Inclusive resort is located about 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport and surrounded by attractions such as Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue, Xcaret, Akumal, Xel-Ha, and near world-famous Mayan archaeological sites such as Tulum, Chichén Itzá and Cobá

Mexican Civil Wedding
Couples who have a wedding performed by a priest, or minister in Mexico do not receive a legal marriage license unless they also register with the justice of the peace. It’s easy enough with valid passports, 4 witnesses, blood tests done in a Mexican clinic for the couple and all witnesses and a doctor’s certification of the blood tests.

Costs (approximate):
Tourist Visa, free at airport
Blood tests, $40 each
Doctor’s certificate, $60 each
Marriage license and ceremony, $500
Apostile (official stamp), $100

Estimated time for documentation is approximately 3 to 6 days. [/box]

[box type=”shadow”]Mayan Shaman Weddings
There are several kinds of wedding ceremonies performed by a Mayan shaman. With a weeks notice you can have a simple ceremony. With two months notice you can have a very elaborate Mayan ritual service. First, you’ll need to give the wedding planner the birthdays of the wedding couple. The service, meant to connect two souls forever, is given in the Mayan language at an alter made with beautiful tropical flowers and strategically placed candles. Clothing is to be white or cream in a very simple style for the wedding party and guests. The bride and groom will be barefoot so they have close contact with Mother Earth.[/box]

Lynn Ogryzlo is a freelance food, wine and travel writer and, international award winning author of Niagara Cooks and The Ontario Table. You can reach Lynn for questions or comments at www.ontariotable.com.