Civil weddings can be an option for couples who want to get married without fanfare. It can still be beautiful without being too expensive, and it’s also an option if you and your partner come from different religious backgrounds (or are not religious at all).

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Are civil weddings legal?

A civil wedding is binding, duly recognized by the State, and gives you the legal benefits of marriage so long as you comply with the requisites set forth by the law.

To marry civilly, you will need the following: capacity, consent, the authority of the person performing the marriage, and a marriage license. There should also be at least two witnesses present at the ceremony to sign the marriage certificate.

What are the civil wedding requirements?

Whether you are preparing for a civil wedding or a church wedding, you will first need a marriage license. You can apply for one at the Civil Registrar’s office in the city or municipality where you or your partner reside. Here’s a list of the documents that you will need:

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  • Marriage License application form
  • NSO-certified birth certificate or baptismal certificate for both parties (original and 2 photocopies)
  • Residence certificate or community tax certificate (cedula; original and 2 photocopies)
  • Barangay clearance or proof of billing
  • Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) for both parties (original and 2 photocopies)
  • Valid I.D. (original and photocopy)
  • A Notarized affidavit of parental consent (for 18-20 years old)
  • A Notarized affidavit of parental advice (for 21-24 years old)
  • Recent 1x1 I.D. photo
  • Counseling seminar (for 18-24 years old)
  • Family planning seminar (for 18 years old and above)

For foreigners, here are additional documents you will need to provide

  • Legal capacity (to be issued by their embassy in the Philippines)
  • If divorced, divorce certificate
  • Passport (original and photocopy)

If you or your partner have annulled a previous marriage, you will need to submit the following:

  • Certificate of Finality of Annulment from the Court (original and photocopy)
  • Certificate of Registration from the Local Civil Registrar (original and photocopy)

If widowed, you will need to submit a death certificate of the deceased spouse.

Note that some municipalities and cities have additional requirements apart from those listed above, so it’s best to check with your local civil registry. For example, some municipalities also require a list of sponsors if you are planning a civil wedding.

A personal appearance of the applicants will be required upon submission of documents. You will also be asked to pay the necessary fees.

It usually takes two weeks (or 10 consecutive days, according to Article 17 of the Family Code) for the marriage license to be released.

Where and when can you have a civil wedding?

A marriage license is only valid for 120 days, so it’s best to plan your civil wedding around this time.

Civil weddings in the Philippines are usually held at public places and commonly at the Mayor’s office or in courtrooms inside the municipal or city hall.

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It is also possible to hold the wedding at your chosen venue (for example, an intimate restaurant) and during weekends (when government offices are closed).

Who can officiate a civil wedding?

According to Philippine law, the following individuals are allowed to officiate a civil wedding (also known as solemnizing officers):

  • The Mayor of the city or municipality
  • The judge within their court’s jurisdiction
  • Military commanders, airplane chiefs, or ship captains (under rare circumstances — for example, one of the marrying parties is on the verge of death)
  • Any pastor, minister, priest, imam, or rabbi of any church or religious sect
  • Consuls in Philippine embassies (for Filipino citizens residing abroad)

If you want to verify whether your solemnizing officer is legitimate or not, you may check the Solemnizing Officers Information System database from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

How can I make my civil wedding special?

You can definitely “personalize” your civil wedding and it may even cost less compared to a church wedding. You can incorporate elements from traditional or religious ceremonies or add unique touches that suit you and your partner’s personalities.

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For example, you can wear a white wedding dress and have your bouquet. Some solemnizing officers will also allow you to write your wedding vows and read them during the ceremony. You can also have a wedding reception! In other words, you have complete control of how you want your special day to be — so just enjoy it. Happy preps!

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