Weddings Traditions and Requirements on Dominican Republic

Before you head to the Dominican Republic to get married, make sure you've gathered all of the right paperwork

In a world where weddings can be whatever the bride and groom dream them to be, Dominican Republic ceremonies trend towards the traditional. 

The advent of destination weddings has brought more variety to the Dominican Republic wedding scene, but couples choosing to wed on the island might feel it is important to incorporate some of the traditions to their own ceremony.  Whatever type of wedding you choose to have, there are some legal matters to attend to before you can say “I do.”

Local Wedding Customs

The culture of the Dominican Republic is predominantly a mix of Spanish and African heritages, but the Spanish aspects shine through when it comes to wedding ceremonies on the island. 

Traditionally, the man proposes to the woman, and then it is up to the bride's family to put together the ceremony.  Unlike in the United States, it is not considered bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony.  In fact, it is several hours before the wedding that the families join together to take the wedding pictures.  Another custom that is different in the Dominican Republic is that weddings do not consist of large bridal parties, rather just the bride and the groom, three young relatives who carry flowers, coins, and the bible down the aisle, and the padrinos, or godparents of the wedding.  The padrinos are typically the mother of the groom and the father of the bride, and are there to serve as witnesses to the marriage. 

Two of the most important traditions in a Dominican Republic ceremony are the arras and the ceremonia contada.  The arras is a silver tray of 13 gold coins passed from one of the young boys who participated in the wedding, to the minister who blesses the coins and passes it on to the groom, who gives it to the bride.  This represents a pledge between the bride and groom to share all of their earthly possessions throughout their marriage.  There ceremonia contada is another practice, in which all of the music at the wedding ceremony is sung by the guests, rather than played by a band or over the speakers. 

Modern Requirements

Couples may get married the vary same day they arrive in the Dominican Republic, providing they have received permission and supplied the registrar with the required documentation.  In order to gain permission to marry in the Dominican Republic, the couple must contact the American Consulate in Santo Domingo requesting permission.  This should be done at least two weeks before your wedding date.

After the couple has received permission to wed,  and arrived in the Dominican Repulic, they should take $20(USD) and the following documents (all translated into Spanish) to the Oficialia de Estado Civil:

  1. Certified copies of Divorce Certificate if one or more parties has been divorced.  If the woman has been divorced, she must wait at least 10 months before remarrying in the Dominican Republic, unless she is marrying the man she divorced.
  2. Certified copies of Death Certificate if one of the parties is a widow or widower.
  3. Certified copies of adoption certificates that reflect any name changes.
  4. Certified copies of birth certificates.
  5. Notarized single status affidavit for each person, confirming that each is not currently married. 
  6. Original or Photocopy of photo identification for each party.
  7. Passport.

It is also a requirement that the bride and groom each have two witnesses that are not family members. 

Couples who wish to be married in the Roman Catholic Church must first meet with the parish priest and provide evidence that they have attended a pre-marital counseling course.

Even though obtaining a marriage license in the Dominican Republic requires a bit of work, couples who have gone through the process and been married on the island say it was worth it to say their vows with the beautiful island as their backdrop.   Whether you choose a modern affair, or a wedding sprinkled with the customs of the island's people, a Dominican Republic destination wedding will leave you with memories you'll want to share with your grandchildren.


Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.