Information Desk: Tie the knot on a holiday in Mexico

We are going to Mexico next year and we are interested in getting married there; we have heard there are all sorts of snags. How do we organise this ?

Susan Winston

Birmingham

Jill Crawshaw replies: To marry in Mexico you must both be at least 21 years old and you will be required to have a compulsory blood test. This can be done either at a clinic once you are out there or by your hotel doctor and will cost around pounds 40 to pounds 60 per couple.

You will also need to produce passports and birth certificates. If either of you are divorced you will need proof of your Decree Absolute; if you are a widow or widower you will need to produce the Death Certificate of your late spouse; and if your name has been changed by deed poll, you will need proof. Original copies not photocopies are required of the various documents. The minimum period of residency in Mexico is just five days.

Despite these perfectly reasonable complications, weddings in Mexico are becoming more and more popular. But you might find it easier to tie the knot through a tour operator. Many of them now have special wedding departments, and they take care of all red tape, arrange for the fees for the Registrar, marriage licence and certificate - even the Best Man, witnesses and reception, with optional "extras" which include videos, photo albums and special music.

Our largest tour operator Thomson Holidays, for example, can arrange all of these elements at the Allegro Resort Hotel in the very laid-back resort of Puerto del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula, at the Royal Solaris Hotel in busy Cancun, or at several other hotels in the Pacific coast resort of Puerto Vallarto.

In Puerto del Carmen you would pay pounds 575 in summer, pounds 595 in winter for the wedding. Among the extras: a video will cost pounds 100 to pounds 150; photos pounds 80; a three-piece band pounds 75 to pounds 270; canapes pounds 10 to pounds 14 per person. For the two-week all-inclusive holiday, which, of course, also doubles as a honeymoon, you have to pay between pounds 1,100 to pounds 1,600. A week would cost pounds 749 to pounds 919, but remember that you need the five days residence in Mexico before you can marry. Kuoni and Cosmos also offer a wedding service.

The weddings are conducted between Mondays and Saturdays but not on public holidays. The ceremony is conducted in Spanish with an interpreter present, and the Marriage Certificate will also be issued in Spanish.

Jill Crawford is a travel expert, writer, and broadcaster.

Will Egyptian sunshine be the best cure for SAD?

Can going on holiday to Egypt for a couple of weeks in the middle of the winter help prevent me from getting SAD, or Seasonally Affected Depression? Or will it return as soon as I get back to England? Alternatively, is there any other measure I can take which would not necessarily involve flying to Egypt?

David McLeod

Newcastle

Dr Larry Goodyer writes: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as the name implies, is experienced by certain individuals as a - sometimes quite severe - depression which comes on during the autumn and winter months. The affected person will usually recover completely during the spring and summer. It is most common in women and will usually first appear in early adulthood.

It is now believed that the most important contributing factor is a decreased exposure to light during the winter months, although other things, such as latitude and climate, may play a part.

The most successful therapy found to date has been light treatment, or phototherapy, where the patient is exposed to bright light in timed doses. However, research is still needed to establish the best regimen for this type of treatment.

In theory, taking a holiday during the winter months in an area where there are more hours of sunlight should help the condition. The further south you go in the winter the longer the daylight hours.

But I have not come across any research that has investigated the effect of this sort of travel on SAD, so I don't really know if your planned trip will have any benefit or whether the problem will come back when you return home.

Melatonin has also been used in the treatment of SAD, although, again, this is somewhat experimental and the effectiveness has not yet been fully established.

Interestingly, there seems to be a link here to jet-lag, which is also said to respond to melatonin treatment. It has been suggested that phototherapy could also be tried as a possible treatment.

Dr Larry Goodyer is the superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8; tel: 0181-889 7014). Contact the travel medicine helpline on 0891 633414 (calls cost 50p per minute).

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