Just south of rockin’ Cancun in the the Yucatan is a peaceful paradise called the Riviera Maya, so named for its proximity to the sites of many Mayan ruins, as well as for its beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe. With white sand playas, swaying palm trees and hotels aplenty, the Riviera Maya is a storybook setting for any destination wedding. The area offers a myriad of wedding options and resorts suitable for nearly every budget and style. Here are four of our favorites.
|Setting the scene at Fairmont Mayakoba|
Eco-conscious couples, who don’t necessarily want to rough it, can go green at the Riviera Maya’s new Fairmont Mayakoba resort in Playa del Carmen. Spread over 47 forested beachfront acres and laced with a series of canals and waterways, the world-class property offers impeccable service, luxurious accommodations (all rooms have large soaking tubs and breathtaking views) and unparalleled dining, while ensuring minimal environmental impact. Gas-powered vehicles are barred, and guests move across the expansive grounds on covered boats, bicycles and electric golf carts. Feel at one with nature as you indulge in a couple’s massage in a treetop treatment suite. Or stroll hand in hand through the property’s protected tropical forest. Stay in the resort’s ultraposh private island room and you’ll have an enormous living and dining area, a large study, a spacious marble bathroom and a patio with an outdoor plunge pool. For more information visit fairmont.com/mayakoba.
|The fountains at Secrets Capri Riviera|
Just imagine the tranquillity: One of the best parts about staying at the 290-room Secrets Capri Riviera in Playa del Carmen is that they don’t allow guests under the age of 18! The large, all-inclusive property is set on 71 sprawling acres and fronted by a beautiful beach and one of the world’s biggest barrier reefs. And each of the hotel’s guest rooms has a private balcony with gorgeous garden or sea views and luxury touches such as sumptuous four-poster beds and Jacuzzi tubs. Plus, every floor has a dedicated concierge. If you want to enjoy the nightlife, Cancun is just 35 minutes away, or you can catch one of nightly theme parties and dinner shows (wedding packages start at $699, and include use of the resort’s bridal gazebo, a bouquet and boutonniere and a wedding cake for 10 people; reserve a Junior Suite Ocean View room for at least seven nights and the wedding package is complimentary; 866-GO-SECRETS; secretsresorts.com.
|Ceiba del Mar's private dock|
Located in the tiny fishing village of Puerto Morelos, the 88-room Ceiba del Mar Spa Resort sits on a secluded stretch of beach and is surrounded by a tropical jungle. You can choose to have your wedding ceremony on the property’s beautiful private beach or under the thatched roof at the end of a pier. Pre-wedding, you and your guests can chill out in your hammocks: Every room has one on its terrace, or you can relax and purify in the beachside temazcal, a detoxifying Mayan sweat lodge. After your big day, splash out at one of the seven penthouse suites, which have private Jacuzzi terraces, perfect for enjoying the sunset (the basic wedding package starts at $1,800, and includes a wedding planner, bouquet and boutonniere, all required tests and administrative documentation; 877-545-6221; ceibadelmar.com).
The Karisma Azul Beach Hotel, in Puerto Morelos, is an all-inclusive, family-friendly, boutique resort with just 96 rooms. The hotel guarantees that you’ll never be more than a minute away from the beach, pool or restaurant. Resort amenities include three restaurants (one has a lobster menu exclusively), 24-hour room service and a team of beach concierges, who provides sunscreen and cooling water vaporizers. There’s even an adorable on-site wedding chapel. For more information visit karismahotels.com). —Sharon Boone
Here's what you'll need to get legally hitched without a hitch: original and certified copies of passports; original and apostilled (a notarization to ensure that the document will be recognized in a foreign country) copies of birth certificates that include parents' information; a tourist card issued upon entry to Mexico and a blood test taken in Mexico and a medical certificate. You must also present four witnesses, 18 years or older, with copies of their passports and tourist visas. And if applicable, you must present a death certificate, translated into Spanish if you are widowed, or a final divorce certificate, translated into Spanish and apostilled. (Note: You cannot legally marry in Mexico until one year after a divorce has been finalized.)
Photography: (from top) courtesy of Fairmont Mayakoba;courtesy of Capri Riviera Cancun; courtesy of DHB Diseno S.C.