It is an absolutely beautiful day in Vieques! I am still suffering with the world’s nastiest sunburn from Wednesday — you’d think I was a tourist!!! Last night, Elizabeth Villalba and Michael Ocando kicked off their wedding festivities with a welcome gathering at Lazy Jack’s on the Malecon (our version of the boardwalk). They were having a great time when we rolled out of there to track down Elizabeth’s flowers — yay, they arrived. But they didn’t arrive until almost midnight on the ferry that should have left Fajardo at 8 pm. OMG. That’s all I can say. Planning weddings in Vieques presents its own unique set of challenges. One task that’s pretty simple is the process to get your marriage license here. It’s not a big deal. The same lady has been running the demographic office on Vieques for more than 25 years so it’s not like she doesn’t have it all down pat. She does. But you have to follow the exact steps proscribed by the Government of Puerto Rico or they can’t issue the marriage license. And if you don’t know what you’re doing in advance, you may not have enough time to get it all straightened out while you’re down here. This is an important point for ALL destination brides and grooms, whether you’re in the Caribbean, Europe or back in your hometown. Make sure you know and understand the required marriage license paperwork steps before the week of your wedding.
Somebody once commented that I seem to have a good relationship with the demographic office here. I do. But that is because never once have I asked them to break a rule for me. If you’re my client, I’ve told you — very specifically — in advance what lab tests you need to have performed and bring with you. If you’ve been married before, I tell you what paperwork to bring with you. If you’re not a US citizen, I tell you what other documentation to bring with you. I give you all this information when you first hire me, and then it’s up to you to schedule the appointments and get your personal paperwork in order. If you forget to bring this paperwork with you or to get your lab tests or whatever, I won’t take you to our demographic office at all. I’ll tell you that you’re going to have to get legally married with a marriage license from home after you leave Vieques. For most couples, there isn’t time to gather together what’s missing while you’re here. So you get one shot to get it right. If you can follow simple instructions, you’re all set. If you don’t, I won’t even stick my neck out to ask the demographic office to help you. And that’s why I have a good relationship with them — it’s purely business — but I won’t ask any of them to break a law (or their office rules) to get a marriage license processed. I know what the laws say. I tell my clients what to bring. If you don’t do it, you can’t get legally married down here.
It’s the same way in a lot of other places. There are some states and a few other countries that don’t require any lab work pre-ceremony, but everybody else has something that you need to fill out and gather in advance. If you don’t do your research, or have a really competent wedding planner or event manager in the place where you’re getting married, you can be in a world of hurt when you try to get that marriage license issued in your destination city. That might not be such a problem if you’re getting married at home, but if you’re in Italy, Grand Cayman or the Bahamas, you’re screwed.
The moral of the story is that there is something you have to do — even if it’s just paperwork — everywhere that you’re going to get married. Do your homework in advance and get your paperwork done ahead of time. If you’ve been married before, you’ll likely have to show proof the marriage no longer exists with a divorce decree or a death certificate. Get these documents together now if you don’t know exactly where they are. It takes time to get copies issued, especially from Podunk little towns who don’t have a good web page. The last stress you need to deal with in the weeks prior to your wedding is the unpleasantness of tracking down your old divorce decree(s).
This is the way things run in most places — if you have your act together when you go to get the marriage license, people will bend over backwards to help you get things completed. If you act like an ugly American, show up with the wrong documentation, and berate the people who are trying to help you for something that was clearly your own fault, then you don’t deserve anybody’s assistance with diddly-squat.
I know this has been a short entry, but I’ve got bunches to do today! Elizabeth and Michael are hosting a pig roast on Sun Bay this afternoon, but first I need to run their wedding rehearsal. This afternoon I’ll be checking in on the very lovely and talented lady making the bouquets, and then slogging my way through a huge pile of paperwork. It never ends, does it?
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques. The weather is fabulous, but keep your fingers crossed anyway for the wedding tomorrow. I want it to be perfect for them!