I went by the demographic office last week to pick up marriage certificates for a bride and received a copy of the new marriage license rules they’ve just released this month. Puerto Rican law has changed and now you have to get a Gonorrhea and Chlamydia test in addition to the Syphilis test that was already required. I know you’re all sighing with relief because this was something you were really worried about getting tested! And isn’t this just a fantastic way to start out a wedding blog entry about Caribbean destination weddings in Vieques?
I used to tell my clients that it was okay to get their bloodwork done here if they didn’t have time at home — that’s not really true anymore. The new tests take 5 days to complete and you have to add a day on each end for the samples to be sent to and from the big island. Both of the new tests are urine tests and can’t be processed same-day on Vieques like the VDRL test.
So what does this mean to you as a destination wedding couple getting married anywhere in Puerto Rico? It means you need to call your doctor’s office NOW and tell him what tests you need and your wedding date and that you need the tests done within 14 calendar days of your wedding date and schedule the appointments for you and your fiance while you’re at it. No medical paperwork — no marriage license? Entiendes? Bueno.
People ask me all the time if it’s difficult to get legally married in Puerto Rico. It’s very easy. It’s just a little trickier to do it on a small island like Vieques because there’s only one lady in one office who can process marriage license paperwork. If she’s on vacation, that office is only open once or twice a week, on a totally random schedule, when they send over a replacement from the big island. Before you can do that paperwork, you have to get “stampas” to pay for the marriage license. And those come from yet another office with different hours.
One of the advantages to using a wedding planner is that she should be able to hold your hand through this process and save you time. I do all the running around in advance for my brides and grooms so that when you arrive on the island, you’ve already filled out all the forms and I’ve already waited in line for you and purchased your payment stamps. I will meet you and take you through the offices necessary to get everything signed, stamped and approved in order to get legally married in Puerto Rico. My fastest time through is 20 minutes — my slowest took a little over an hour.
Wherever you’re getting married in the Caribbean, make sure you know the rules and regulations regarding your documentation and your marriage license in advance. Be prepared to provide copies of divorce decrees or death certificates if you’ve been married before. If you’re getting married outside the United States, or you’re not from the United States but you’re getting married here, be sure that you know exactly what you have to send in advance and what you have to bring with you.
Be sure you make arrangements with your wedding planner to get her to send you copies of your marriage license a couple weeks after your wedding. You probably won’t be able to get them before you leave the island, and it’s a real hassle to do it by mail or phone. I include that as a standard service that I give all of my clients and I insist that everybody purchase at least two copies of the marriage certificate. Make sure you have somebody to do that for you wherever you get married, and make sure you sign any necessary legal releases before you leave the island.
Tomorrow’s blog entry is going to be very interesting — I’m preparing a rant on unscrupulous wedding planners because I just can’t help myself. Don’t miss it!
Happy Wedding Planning from Weddings in Vieques!