How to Get Married in Puerto Rico

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Put a fresh spin on an island wedding with rain forest vows instead of the beach.
Put a fresh spin on an island wedding with rain forest vows instead of the beach. (Image: Wirepec/iStock/Getty Images)

Begin your marriage on a strong foundation in the shadow of Puerto Rico's legendary mighty forts. Take your vows under a canopy of green in the island's centralized rain forests, or get wed along the sand and dance the night away to the territory's signature salsa. Getting married in Puerto Rico is simple for U.S. citizens.

Travel Documents

As Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, U.S. citizens need no passport to travel directly here. Just carry identification as you would for flights within the U.S., such as a driver's license. This makes it a great exotic wedding destination accessible to guests who don't hold passports for international travel. Guests coming from countries other than America have to apply for a tourist visa through through the U.S. Embassy or a consulate in their home country before traveling to Puerto Rico.

Getting a License

If you come to Puerto Rico accompanied by Mr. or Ms. Right and armed with the right documents, you don't need to wait to get a marriage license. Couples can obtain a license at a Demographic Registry office; in San Juan, there's one at 525 Avenida Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Besides a driver's license or passport, you'll need to present an affidavit from an attorney or notary certifying you are not residents of the island and are in Puerto Rico to get married. Only residents of Puerto Rico and the few U.S. states that require testing must have blood samples processed. You also must present birth certificates and any divorce decrees. Young lovers under 21 years of age need a parent present to obtain a license. The marriage certificate signed by the officiant has to be submitted back to the registry office within 10 days of the ceremony.

When to Wed

It may be more difficult to book wedding venues from December through April, when the island isn't as humid, rainfall is the lightest and snowbirds are fleeing harsh winters in the United States. Hurricane season for the Caribbean begins at the start of June and runs through the end of November, though Puerto Rico tends to see the worst storms from August through October. The heaviest average rainfall month is May, something to keep in mind if you want an outdoor ceremony. Temperatures range from the 70s through the 80s year-round, so keep fabrics light and breathable and the only source of perspiration will be nerves.

Variety of Venues

Puerto Rico weddings can be centered around the colorful facades and narrow streets of historical Old San Juan or conducted along the sand at beachfront resorts. You can even apply for a U.S. Forest Service permit to get married in the rain forest at one of the facilities in El Yunque National Forest. A classic San Juan spot for a grand church wedding is the 16th-century Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, but smaller churches around the city and island are beautiful as well. Check with your home diocese for assistance in arranging a Catholic Church wedding in Puerto Rico. Wedding planners at the island resorts can help you arrange ceremony and reception locations as well as all of the details of the big day, but it's worth a scouting trip to the island during a non-peak time to look at locations yourself. For any location that requires a deposit, ask what the policy is if a hurricane swoops in from the Atlantic and scuttles the ceremony.

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