80514: Reader Mail: Vow Renewals in the Caribbean

What if I apply for a marriage license in New York City and get married legally here but also want just a ceremony in the Caribbean? Do I still need to pay all these fees and get legal paperwork? In terms of timing, would it be OK for us to have our vow renewal in the Caribbean prior to receiving our license in NYC? Trying to throw together a quick vacation in which to elope. Want the smoothest ceremony possible.

Thanks for your email. If you get married in New York, you’ll then have a vow renewal in the Caribbean. It’s very easy (and cheaper) and doesn’t involve all the paperwork since you’re not getting a license. In fact, some people choose to do it this way because they want to get married on an island that has strict marriage regulations (like the French islands where you have to arrive 40 days before the ceremony!) You’ll bypass all that with the vow renewal. Most resorts have an on-staff person who can help you set up the vow renewal and provide you the options (flowers, videography, photography, etc.)

It’s better for you to have the wedding first then the vow renewal. Some wedding planners will want you to show your marriage certificate to set up the vow renewal.

However, we do know that some properties are fine with doing what they market as a spiritual or non-legal ceremony; it’s very much like a marriage ceremony but without the paperwork. We’ve seen these at many resorts in Mexico (because only civil weddings are legal in Mexico).

Best wishes!

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