This was written in collaboration with Atty. Kareen Lucero to ensure the accuracy of every legal element discussed in the article.
Everyone has a dream wedding.
It’s an important milestone you’ve waited for all your life.
Whether it’s a simple civil wedding or an extravagant church wedding, you can’t wait to celebrate this day with your soulmate along with your loved ones.
But preparing for your wedding day is not all beers and skittles. You also need to know the legal documents and preparations required to ensure a hassle-free celebration.
If you’re clueless about the things you need to know to get married here in the Philippines, no need to fret. We have scoured the internet for the best information that every soon-to-be couple ought to know.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The use of the information contained herein does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user/reader.
Table of Contents
- Watch Video: How To Get a Marriage License in the Philippines
- FREE Downloads: Checklist of Requirements for Civil and Church Wedding in the Philippines
- What Is the Legal Age for Marriage in the Philippines?
- Who Can Get Married in the Philippines?
Part I. Civil Wedding
- Why You Should Have a Civil Wedding in the Philippines
Civil Wedding Requirements: An Overview
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements, if 18 – 20
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements, if 21 – 25
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirement if Widowed
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Annulled
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Filipino Got Divorced Abroad
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Foreign Applicant
Civil Wedding Requirements: A More Detailed Discussion
- a. The Latest Certified True Copy of Your and Your Partner’s PSA Birth Certificates (Original and Photocopy)
- b. Latest Certificate of No Marriage (Cenomar) or Certificate of Singleness (Original and Photocopy)
- c. Certificate of Attendance in Pre-Marriage Counseling, Family Planning, and Responsible Parenthood Seminar
- d. At Least 2 Valid IDs of the Couple (Original and Photocopy)
- e. Marriage License Application Form (Issued by the LCR Office)
- f. Barangay Certification (Original and Photocopy)
- g. Community Tax Certificates or Cedula (Original and Photocopy)
- h. Two Pieces of Recent ID Picture With White Background
How To Get Married in a Civil Ceremony in the Philippines: 11 Steps
- 1. Pick a Wedding Date
- 2. Decide on a Budget
- 3. Obtain a Marriage License
- 4. Know How and Where the Civil Ceremony Will Take Place
- 5. Send Out Invitations to Your Guests and Witnesses (Optional)
- 6. Plan Your Wedding Reception
- 7. Write Your Wedding Vows
- 8. Shop for Wedding Rings
- 9. Choose Your Wedding Attire
- 10. Hire a Wedding Photographer (Optional)
- 11. Enjoy the Civil Wedding Program
Part II. Church Wedding
- Catholic Church Wedding Requirements: An Overview
Catholic Church Wedding Requirements: A More Detailed Discussion
- a. Marriage License
- b. Baptismal and Confirmation (“Kumpil”) Certificates (6 Months Validity)
- c. Latest Copy of PSA Birth Certificate and Certificate of No Record of Marriage (CENOMAR)
- d. Canonical Interview
- e. Pre-Cana/Marriage Preparation Seminar
- f. Marriage Banns
- g. List of Principal Sponsors and Entourage Members (a.k.a. “Ninongs” and “Ninangs”)
- h. Wedding or Marriage Permit
- i. Confession
- j. 2 x 2 ID Size Pictures
- k. Other Requirements
- How To Get Married Secretly in the Philippines
- The Aftermath: How To Get a Marriage Certificate
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. What’s the difference between a civil wedding and a church wedding in the Philippines?
- 2. How much does a wedding cost in the Philippines?
- 3. What is a parental consent for marriage? How do I get one?
- 4. What is parental advice for marriage? How do I get one?
- 5. What is the difference between parental consent and parental advice? Can I use them interchangeably?
- 6. How can I get married in the Philippines to a foreigner?
- 7. Can a lawyer officiate a wedding in the Philippines?
- 8. Can two foreigners get married in the Philippines?
- 9. How can we apply for a marriage license if one or both of us work abroad (with limited vacation leaves)?
- 10. Who is exempted from getting a marriage license?
- 11. Are live-in partners exempted from marriage license applications?
- 12. I’m a Catholic, but my partner is not. Can we still get married in a Catholic Church?
- 13. Does the Catholic Church recognize civil marriage?
- 14. We were already married in a civil ceremony but want to get married again, this time at a church wedding. How?
- 15. If a couple decides to have a civil wedding before a church wedding in the Philippines, is the latter considered a “renewal of vows”?
- 16. If we are already civilly married and then decide to get married in the church, do we need to apply for a marriage license again?
- 17. I just got married abroad. Do I need to report my marriage to the Philippine Embassy? Why and how?
- 18. We just got married. What should we do first after the wedding?
- 19. How can I change my surname after marriage? Can I retain my maiden name instead?
Watch Video: How To Get a Marriage License in the Philippines
FREE Downloads: Checklist of Requirements for Civil and Church Wedding in the Philippines
Too lazy or busy to read? Download the checklists below to get an overview of the requirements for a civil or church wedding in the Philippines.
For a detailed discussion of each requirement, scroll down to read the in-depth civil and church wedding guides we’ve prepared for you.
What Is the Legal Age for Marriage in the Philippines?
The legal age for marriage in the Philippines is 18 years old.
Art. 5 of the Family Code of the Philippines1 provides that any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not possessing any impediment to marry under Sec. 37 and 38 of the Family Code may get married.
Who Can Get Married in the Philippines?
If you’re planning to get married in the Philippines, there are a few legal requirements you need to know first, especially if you or your would-be spouse is 25 years old or below. To summarize:
- Marrying parties should be a male and a female, at least 18 years old.
- If you or your partner is 25 years old or below, parental consent or advice is needed.
- You and your partner must not be related by blood (up to the 4th degree) and should be free of legal impediments, such as being in a previous marriage (unless annulled, widowed, or divorced).
Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship between the parties is legitimate or illegitimate:
- Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and
- Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood (Art. 37, FC)
The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:
- Between collateral blood relatives, whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;
- Between step-parents and step-children;
- Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;
- Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;
- Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;
- Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;
- Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;
- Between adopted children of the same adopter; and
- Between parties where one, intending to marry the other, killed that other person’s spouse or his or her spouse. (Art. 38, FC)
After confirming that you are qualified to get married, proceed to the succeeding steps.
Part I. Civil Wedding
A civil wedding in the Philippines (kasal sa huwes) may not give you that royal wedding vibe, but it ticks all the boxes when it comes to convenience and cost-effectiveness.
Not that a civil wedding should be plain, boring, and second-rate.
With great planning and creativity, you can turn your civil wedding into a great experience you’ll treasure for years.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to plan a civil wedding in the Philippines like a pro, plus tips to make it extra special without breaking the bank.
Why You Should Have a Civil Wedding in the Philippines
If you’re having seconds thoughts about having a civil wedding in the Philippines, let the following reasons do the convincing:
- Civil wedding grants you the legal rights and privileges of marriage.
- A civil wedding doesn’t require a religious affiliation. Therefore, “non-believers”–including atheists and agnostics–won’t need to participate in ceremonies they’re not comfortable with or forced to change their beliefs on paper just to get the church wedding done.
- A civil wedding is a simpler way to tie the knot, especially for mixed marriages or if either one of you is based abroad. Catholic churches require additional requirements for mixed marriages wherein one party belongs to a different religion. If you live or work overseas, a church wedding in the Philippines also means flying to the country three times just to get a license and attend the precana counseling and interview.
- Planning a civil wedding involves fewer expenses, pressure, and stress so you can focus on what’s truly important. As they always say, some folks spend too much on the wedding and not enough on the marriage. Civil wedding reminds you that the true essence of marriage is working on the marriage itself. Everything else is secondary. As a result, you can enjoy this special day with your partner without worrying about trivial stuff like flowers, dress for the bridesmaids, and whatnot. No wonder civil wedding is popular in the Philippines, with a record 41.6% of marriages contracted through civil rites in 20162.
- Since a civil wedding is a lot cheaper, you can set aside money for your honeymoon or other memorable experiences that matter to you. After all, marriage doesn’t require extravaganza for it to work. As long as your union is made official through a civil wedding, everything else henceforth is only done to comply with society’s “standards.”
- If your wife is already visibly pregnant at the time of the wedding, civil marriage can save you from the embarrassment and judgmental glances of your holier-than-thou relatives.
- A civil wedding can be your preparation for a more lavish church wedding. Some couples get married through civil rites while they’re still saving up for their dream fairytale wedding. Others, like doctors Hayden Kho and Vicki Belo3, get into a civil marriage to save them from the paperwork and other logistical concerns before a church wedding abroad.
- A civil wedding can happen as soon as you’re issued a marriage license. In contrast, it takes longer to prepare for a church wedding since the pre-cana seminar, canonical interview, and marriage banns require at least a month before the wedding date to be completed.
- If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who will end up filing for annulment in the future, civil marriages are cheaper and faster to dissolve than church marriages. The possibility of annulment should be the least of your concerns. But if things don’t work out, remember that civil annulment typically costs PHP 150,000 and can be completed within a year if done in courts specializing in annulment cases. By contrast, church annulment, which is required only if you’re planning to get married in the church again, may require up to 3 years of hearings, consultations, and seminars before it takes effect.
- Lastly, an expensive church wedding doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage. It doesn’t matter where you get married because the vows and your promises to each other are the same. Any marriage, formalized through civil rites or a fancy church wedding, can last if it’s built on genuine love, trust, and commitment to each other.
Civil Wedding Requirements: An Overview
Although local civil registrars in the country tend to interpret the guidelines differently when issuing a marriage license, there are basic requirements you need to obtain to have a civil wedding. Make sure you have an original copy and photocopies of the following common civil wedding requirements:
- PSA Birth Certificate of both marrying parties;
- Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) of both marrying parties;
- Certificate of Attendance in Pre-Marriage Counseling Seminar;
- At least 2 valid IDs of the couple are to be presented on the day of application at the city/municipal hall;
- Marriage license application form;
- Barangay Certification;
- Community Tax Certificate or CEDULA;
- Two pieces of 2 x 2 ID picture with white background
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements, if 18 – 20
The legal age for marriage in the Philippines is 18.
For applicants between 18 and 20 years old, a notarized affidavit of parental consent to marriage is required. The father, mother, or guardian (in the order of mention) can either personally appear with a valid ID (original and photocopy) or provide a notarized affidavit.
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements, if 21 – 25
Meanwhile, for applicants between 21 and 25 years old, a notarized affidavit of parental advice to marriage is required. The parents or guardian is likewise required to either show up with a valid ID (original and photocopy) or just provide a notarized written account expressing that they’re aware of the couple’s intent to marry as well as any other advice they wish to give.
Forms are usually available at the local civil registrar/city civil registry department, where you’ll file the application.
In case the parents refuse to provide notarized parental advice, you may submit a sworn statement telling the reason why they refused, after which the marriage license can only be issued 3 months after you filed the application.
Additional Civil Wedding Requirement if Widowed
- Marriage Contract or Report of Marriage to Deceased Spouse issued by the PSA (original with 1 photocopy)
- Death Certificate of the deceased spouse
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Annulled
- Certificate of Finality of Annulment from the Court (1 original and 2 photocopies)
- Certificate of Registration from the Local Civil Registrar for the registration of the annulment papers (1 original and 2 photocopies).
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Filipino Got Divorced Abroad
- Marriage Contract or Report of Marriage to the Previous Spouse with Annotation on Divorce issued by the PSA (original with 1 photocopy)
- Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce issued by a Philippine Court and with a Certificate of Finality (original with 1 photocopy)
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Foreign Applicant
- Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry (Affidavit or Affirmation of Marital Status for British applicants) from their country’s Embassy or Consular Office in the Philippines with authentication certification from DFA.
- If you’re a US citizen, the Consulate is prohibited by law from making any certification about your eligibility for marriage in the Philippines. They can only provide an Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry, which can be secured from the US Embassy in Manila by appointment only. If you’re based in Cebu, the US Consular Agency in Lahug, Cebu City offers notarial services on a walk-in, first-come/first-served basis every day from 8:30 A.M. to 10:30 A.M. For more information about the fees and procedure, please read this guide.
- Naturalization paper (if naturalized)
- Death Certificate of the deceased spouse (if widowed)
- Divorce decree (if divorced)
- Passport bio page
- Photocopy of the immigration entry stamp in the foreigner’s passport. The photocopied page should show the date of your arrival in the Philippines for the marriage license application.
Civil Wedding Requirements: A More Detailed Discussion
The marriage license is the most important legal document you must secure when preparing for your wedding. After all, you won’t be allowed to have a church or civil wedding without this.
To apply for the license, both parties must go to the local civil registrar of the city, town, or municipality where either one habitually resides.
The marriage license is usually released 2 weeks (10 days) after you apply for it.
Local civil registrars tend to interpret the guidelines differently, so depending on where you’ll be applying, it may take either 10 consecutive days (including weekends) or 10 working days (excluding weekends) before the license is issued to you. However, the law is clear (Article 17 of the Family Code) that the waiting period for the marriage license should be 10 consecutive days.
Anyone of the applying parties can pick up the marriage license from the local civil registrar. No delivery option is available as of this writing.
Once issued, the marriage license can be used wherever you want to get married in the Philippines.
However, it is only valid within 120 days of issuance and “shall be deemed automatically canceled at the expiration of said period if the contracting parties have not made use of it.”
Below is a more detailed discussion of the basic civil wedding requirements.
You can obtain this from the Philippine Statistics Authority (formerly NSO) office or through an online application via PSA Serbilis.
If no record of birth, the latest original copy of the baptismal certificate may also be accepted. Foreigners must obtain their birth certificates from their country of origin.
b. Latest Certificate of No Marriage (Cenomar) or Certificate of Singleness (Original and Photocopy)
For couples above 25 years old, the CENOMAR provides proof that neither of you was married before. To secure a copy, please follow the same procedure in ordering a birth certificate. A copy of CENOMAR costs PHP 210 (walk-in) or PHP 430 (online).
Proceed to the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) office of your municipality to secure a schedule for your pre-marriage seminar.
Pre-marriage counseling is usually conducted by the Church or the DSWD for civil marriages. The family planning and responsible parenthood seminar, on the other hand, is held at the health department (specifically the Division of Maternal and Child Health) of your municipal/city hall.
In most areas, family planning and marriage counseling seminars are combined into one program and conducted at the same venue. Check the schedules as some are conducted daily while others have a specific schedule within the week.
d. At Least 2 Valid IDs of the Couple (Original and Photocopy)
The valid ID should show proof that one or both of you are resident/s of the city/town/municipality where you’re applying for the marriage license. For example, if you’re filing an application in Manila, the valid ID must show an address in Manila.
Here are some examples of valid IDs in the Philippines:
e. Marriage License Application Form (Issued by the LCR Office)
f. Barangay Certification (Original and Photocopy)
Most municipalities require couples to obtain this certificate from the barangay where they reside. In exchange for the certificate, a barangay official usually requires the couple to participate in a tree-planting activity. A brief interview with the couple may also be included.
g. Community Tax Certificates or Cedula (Original and Photocopy)
You can obtain the CEDULA at the same city/municipal hall where you’ll file the marriage license application.
h. Two Pieces of Recent ID Picture With White Background
Marrying parties must also bring recent 2 x 2 pictures with white background.
How To Get Married in a Civil Ceremony in the Philippines: 11 Steps
Civil marriage is supposed to be cheaper than a church wedding. However, sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you have to make the wedding look cheap and tacky.
To ensure you’ll get an unforgettable civil wedding in the Philippines without breaking the bank, follow the steps laid out in this guide.
1. Pick a Wedding Date
It’s crucial for both parties to agree on a wedding date before the preparation starts.
While it’s possible in some cases to have a rush wedding in two weeks, it doesn’t take into consideration several unforeseen circumstances that might happen along the way.
For this reason, couples are advised to have at least a one-month preparation period before the wedding day.
Before choosing a date, remember the following:
- If your wedding will be officiated by a judge in your municipal or city hall, the schedule of your wedding will depend on the judge’s availability. If there are multiple judges, your marriage license will go through a lottery to determine which judge will officiate your wedding. So, in this case, you can only choose when you will apply for a marriage license, not the specific date when the wedding will take place.
- The CENOMAR and birth certificates, two vital requirements for the marriage license, are usually issued 1-6 days (walk-in) or up to 9 days (online) after application.
- The marriage license is issued 10 days after submitting the requirements and attending the pre-wedding seminar. You must already have the license on the day of your wedding, or the union will not push through.
- If the wedding will happen on a weekday, inform your guests and the wedding entourage ahead of time so they can file their work leaves (if applicable).
- For civil weddings scheduled on weekends, check the availability of the venue and the person officiating the ceremony.
- Municipal halls are usually closed during weekends. Court vacations may happen without prior notice. The mayor or judge, on the other hand, may need a little bit of cajoling to convince him/her to officiate the wedding during weekends.
- The month you choose for your wedding may influence your total wedding expenses. The cost of wedding venues increases every June and December, during which most people assume a lot of weddings take place. Data from PSA refute this, revealing that April, February, and May are the preferred wedding months of Filipinos.
2. Decide on a Budget
Determine early on who will cover the expenses.
In the Philippines, the groom usually shoulders the bulk of the civil wedding cost with the help of his family. This tradition may be interpreted as machismo, especially by outsiders who are used to having the bride’s family pay for the wedding expenses.
Civil wedding cost in the Philippines is relatively cheap. You can do it with a budget as low as PHP 12,000.
This money is just enough to cover the essentials like the pastor who will officiate the wedding (Php 3,500+) and the wedding reception at an ordinary restaurant with food good enough to feed a maximum of 25 people (PHP 8,000).
Take note that in the above example, both the wedding ceremony and the reception are held at the same place to save on rental fees.
The table below shows another example of a civil wedding budget below PHP 40,000 which covers all wedding essentials like cake, souvenirs, dress, and wedding reception package good for 50 guests. Miscellaneous items like photobooth and audio-visual presentations are either provided by volunteers or scrapped altogether.
|Civil Wedding Expenses||Cost|
|Bag for prizes||PHP 360|
|Tumblers (prize)||PHP 500|
|Wedding rings||PHP 2500|
|Bride’s wedding dress||PHP 350|
|Baby’s shoes||PHP 250|
|Signature frame||PHP 280|
|Wedding cake||PHP 2500|
|Wedding reception||PHP 22060|
|Groom’s suit (dry clean)||PHP 300|
|Groom’s shoes||PHP 370|
|Hair and make-up (bride)||PHP 500|
|Hair and make-up (mother)||PHP 250|
|Bride’s shoes||PHP 350|
|Wedding documents||PHP 3000|
|Son’s clothes||PHP 400|
|Sign pen||PHP 10|
The wedding budget above doesn’t apply to all civil weddings by any stretch of the imagination.
For one, the couple skimped on what others consider important, like the wedding dress. You can find a dress that cheap, but don’t expect anything jaw-dropping. The cost of the judge also varies in each city or municipality.
Here are a few more pointers when creating your wedding budget:
- Plan the wedding with your partner to set your priorities right and determine which areas you want to splurge on and which ones to skimp on.
- The wedding reception will take a huge portion of your budget. To save money, have the wedding ceremony and the reception at the same venue.
- Only invite a few close friends and relatives. Civil weddings are supposed to be intimate, which is the reason why it’s cheaper in the first place.
- A judge can officiate your wedding for less than PHP 5,000, while a pastor/minister usually charges PHP 8,000 or more for the same service. However, if you want to get married on a weekend, the municipal hall may not be available, in which case you have to bring the judge to the venue at an additional cost.
- To make your budget planning easier, you can use an online wedding budget calculator or download a free worksheet for Excel. These nifty tools work for both civil and church weddings.
3. Obtain a Marriage License
Couples won’t be allowed to be married anywhere in the Philippines without a marriage license.
How To Get a Marriage License in the Philippines: 5 Steps
Now that you know the basic requirements to bring, here are the steps you need to follow to get the marriage license:
- Together with your would-be spouse, go to your local civil registrar (LCR)/city civil registry department and fill out the marriage license application form.
- Submit the necessary documents (see the list of requirements above) together with the duly accomplished application form to the Civil Registry Department. To avoid hassles and long queues, go to the municipal office/city hall in the morning or after lunch.
- Proceed to the Cashier or Treasury Department and pay the application, filing, and marriage license fees. Note that higher fees will be charged from applicants with foreign fiances/fiancees.
- Keep the Original Receipt and wait for up to 10 days before you can claim the marriage license. It must be noted that during the 10-day waiting period, a notice of the impending marriage of the applicants will be publicly posted.
- On the date of release, go back to the local civil registrar to claim the marriage license. Once you have the license, you can use it to get married anywhere in the country within 120 days (4 months) from the date of issue.
4. Know How and Where the Civil Ceremony Will Take Place
According to Philippine law, any one of the following can officiate your civil wedding:
- The mayor of the city or municipality where either one of the marrying parties is a resident4. Depending on his/her availability, the mayor can officiate individual or mass weddings (also known as “kasalang bayan”) either inside the Mayor’s Office or within its vicinity.
- The judge, within his/her court’s jurisdiction. If you live in a big city where there are multiple judges, civil weddings are raffled off and assigned to judges once or several times a week. Then, it will depend on the judge’s availability when the civil ceremony will take place and whether or not it can be done outside should you choose a weekend schedule (courtrooms are only open during weekdays). If possible, get married in a small municipality where there’s only one judge, eliminating the need for a raffle. In addition to that, the local civil registrar isn’t dealing with huge backlogs, so you may get issued the marriage certificate as early as after the wedding ceremony. However, not all municipalities in the country have courthouses and/or judges, in which case the mayor will be the one authorized to officiate the wedding. To verify if your municipality has an incumbent judge, search the Judiciary Book of the Judicial and Bar Council of the Supreme Court.
- Military commanders, airplane chiefs, or ship captains may also officiate a wedding under rare circumstances like when one of the marrying parties is “in articulo mortis” or at the point of dying.
- Any pastor, minister, priest, imam, or rabbi of any church or religious sect, provided that he is authorized by the church to solemnize marriages and is registered with the civil registrar general. If you want to verify the legitimacy of a solemnizing officer, search for his name on the Solemnizing Officers Information System database of the Philippine Statistics Authority. Although the law states that at least one of the marrying parties must belong to the solemnizing officer’s church or religious sect, some just bypass this requirement and allow either couple to declare the religion only on paper.
- Consuls in Philippine Embassies abroad are also allowed to officiate the civil union between two Filipinos.
Civil weddings in the Philippines are usually held at the Mayor’s office or courtrooms inside the municipal hall/city hall.
After issuing the marriage license, the local civil registrar may assign you to someone–either your city mayor or judge–who will officiate the wedding.
If the mayor is unavailable, you will be asked to proceed to the Hall of Justice to secure a schedule with one of the judges. If there are multiple judges, your marriage license will be assigned to a judge through a scheduled raffle process. In some areas where there’s only one judge, there’s no need for your marriage license to be raffled off.
Due to the process involved, you don’t have the liberty to pick your wedding schedule as the judge’s availability will determine when the ceremony will take place.
How Much Is the Judge Fee for a Civil Wedding in the Philippines?
As of 2021, a judge’s fee costs PHP 700. To secure a schedule at the Hall of Justice of your city or municipal hall, you also need to pay another PHP 300 for the processing fee.
Alternatively, you can find a pastor or minister to officiate the wedding on your chosen date, provided that you’re willing to pay a higher fee.
Some couples are lucky enough to have one of the Supreme Court justices officiate their civil wedding inside the Supreme Court.
There are two ways to make this possible:
- If you know the Supreme Court justice personally or know someone who works under him/her, you can convince the SC justice to officiate your wedding.
- You may try your luck by calling the SC justice’s office or inquiring at the Public Information Office located on the 3rd Floor, New Supreme Court Building Annex, Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila (Telephone (02) 522-5090; 522-5094/Telefax (02) 526-8129/Email [email protected])
If you want a civil wedding to happen on a weekend, during which the municipal hall/city hall is usually closed, you can find another venue like a garden, public park, or a nature reserve.
The advantage is there will be enough space to accommodate more guests. The downside is the judge may charge more.
Fees may vary, but judges officiating weddings outside their offices usually charge PHP 8,000 (or more), similar to what pastors/ministers charge for their service.
Moreover, holding the civil wedding ceremony outside means your guests no longer have to move from one place to another. The wedding ceremony and the reception can happen at the same venue, saving you a lot of time and money.
5. Send Out Invitations to Your Guests and Witnesses (Optional)
The best part about having a civil wedding is you don’t have to invite the whole barangay to the reception.
Inviting only a few people to your wedding makes the special occasion much more intimate, not to mention budget-friendly.
The following people must be included in the wedding guest list:
- Two witnesses will be present at the civil ceremony to sign the marriage contract/certificate
- The couple’s immediate families
- The couple’s closest friends
Especially if the civil wedding will take place on a weekday, you must send out wedding invitations at least two months in advance so your potential guests/witnesses will be able to file for work leaves.
To cut wedding costs, search for DIY wedding invitation ideas on YouTube/Pinterest or use one of these printable wedding invitation templates.
6. Plan Your Wedding Reception
In any type of wedding, the reception always takes up the bulk of the wedding expenses. Hence, you should pay extra attention when making your wedding budget (see Step 2).
If you’re short on cash, you can avail of the packages offered by restaurants and let them take care of everything for as low as PHP 10,000 (assuming you have a limited number of guests).
Meanwhile, if you prefer to hold the reception outdoors in a garden or at your residence, there are catering packages being offered for as low as PHP 25,000. Some even allow payment installments.
The package covers the food (good for at least 100 people), servers, and basic wedding decorations.
It doesn’t include the cost of transporting your guests from the city/municipal hall to the wedding reception. For this reason, I suggest having the ceremony and reception held in one venue to save time and money.
As for the wedding cake, there are customized creations you can order from your local bakeshop or from a close friend/relative who knows how to bake. Wedding cakes may cost up to PHP 5,000 or more depending on the size and how elaborate the design is.
If you want to impress your guests with add-ons like a host/emcee, live band, souvenirs, and sound system, prepare to stretch your wedding budget a little bit.
There are cheap wedding souvenirs you can buy in Divisoria. You can also consider budget-friendly yet ingenious gifts to impress your guests like essential oil diffusers or as simple as cupcakes with creative wedding designs.
Souvenirs are tokens of appreciation for the special people who have found time in their busy lives to join you on this special occasion.
7. Write Your Wedding Vows
Wedding vows are sacred promises that couples say to each other during the ring ceremony.
Before the civil wedding, you will be asked to write your wedding vows. The officiant may provide you with a template. You can also search for samples online and find inspiration from them.
There’s no language requirement. You can write in Tagalog, English, or any language you’re comfortable with.
Keep the message short, sweet, and sincere. Writing the wedding vow is your chance to express how invested and committed you are in the relationship.
8. Shop for Wedding Rings
The wedding rings symbolize your promise to be with each other through thick and thin.
There’s no written rule on how much a wedding ring should be. It all boils down to your budget and preference.
While some believe it should be worth at least a month’s salary, other frugal couples are happy to settle with affordable rings sold in malls.
If you haven’t bought wedding rings yet, here are a few tips and reminders:
- Remember, you’re getting married through civil rites. A simple wedding ring without Swarovski crystals will do. You can save the more expensive diamond rings for your dream church wedding (in case you have plans on having one).
- Before you troop to jewelry stores, ask your parents and grandparents first if they have kept heirloom wedding rings. Pieces of jewelry that have passed on from one generation to the next not only have sentimental value but also allow you to save money for more important aspects of the wedding.
- You can have a wedding ring with any budget. From as low as PHP 500 to PHP 100,000 and up, there’s a ring available for everyone. The larger the main diamond, or the higher the carat of the gold, the more expensive the wedding ring would be.
- Do your research and find inspiration online to have an idea of what type of ring you prefer. If possible, buy a wedding ring from a trusted jeweler which allows its buyers to watch the rings they’ve ordered being made.
- Ongpin Street in Binondo is known for its low-cost wedding rings. Some stores make rings that may be too old-fashioned for your taste, so shop around. Ongpin wedding rings cost PHP 5,000 and higher, depending on the size and design. Jewelers also offer free cleaning plus free guava candies to boot.
9. Choose Your Wedding Attire
Unlike in church weddings, you don’t have to dress to impress when having a simple civil marriage.
For grooms, polo shirts or your old formal suit should be enough. The bride, meanwhile, can either borrow a wedding gown or buy a ready-made civil wedding dress. You can buy the latter in Divisoria or online shopping sites like Shopee for as low as PHP 1,200.
Again, you don’t have to wear a wedding dress with elaborate designs.
After all, wedding outfits should be the least of your priorities and can be purchased once the rest of the wedding details have been taken care of.
10. Hire a Wedding Photographer (Optional)
While most couples include wedding photography in the miscellaneous or optional wedding expenses, it shouldn’t be that way, considering how precious the event is.
Weddings, whether through a civil union or church rites, are an important milestone worth capturing in photographs.
In the case of civil weddings, comprehensive photo and video coverage aren’t necessary.
With as little as PHP 3,000 to PHP 5,000, you can avail of a basic photo coverage where a photographer will be at the wedding venue and reception to capture special moments.
The package may include a formal photo of the couple plus 100 to 150 high-resolution photos taken at the event.
If you want to pay for cheaper services, look for students or budding photographers who want to expand their portfolios. Tap your existing network to get referrals to these affordable photographers.
11. Enjoy the Civil Wedding Program
On your special day, avoid stressing over the small stuff. Just focus on your partner and treasure every moment.
After all, your civil wedding signifies that you’ve finally found the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with.
Since this is not a traditional church wedding with hundreds of guests, you don’t need a wedding planner or coordinator to manage every little detail.
If you have a complete wedding package, the program coordinator will handle everything for you. Otherwise, you can ask for assistance from your close friends and relatives to organize the program while you prepare yourself for the event.
Here’s an example of a civil wedding program that eliminates all the trivial stuff usually present in church weddings:
Part I: The wedding ceremony
- Exchange of vows and ring ceremony
- The signing of the marriage contract
- Presentation of the newlyweds
- Bridal kiss
Part II: Welcoming of guests by the emcee/host at the wedding reception
- Acknowledgments of the following: Judge, primary sponsors (if applicable), and parents
- Acknowledgment of the newlyweds
- Pictorials with the VIPs: Judge, primary sponsors (if applicable), parents, and family.
- Pictorials (per table / per group)
Part III: Wedding Traditions
- Serving of food/buffet
- Selection and introduction of well-wishers
- Toast to the bride and groom
- Removal of the garter
- Garter game
- Bouquet toss
- Words from parents
- Speech from the newlyweds
- Closing remarks by the emcee
- Distribution of tokens/souvenirs
As the bride and groom, let your minds off the program and focus on each other.
You’ve prepared well and have been through a lot just to get to this point.
A civil wedding is a celebration of love and commitment regardless of religious beliefs, race, or skin color. Savor every moment.
Congratulations and best wishes!
Part II. Church Wedding
Every Filipina bride has a dream of tying the knot in the church and wearing that long, elegant wedding dress.
And because the majority of Filipinos are Catholics, it’s no wonder why most prefer to get married in popular churches like Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and the like.
Take note that a church wedding in the Philippines is fundamentally not an expensive ceremony. You can get married at a Catholic church with a budget range of PHP 7,000 to PHP 10,000, which already covers the stipend for the officiating priest, choir, floral decoration of the altar, electricity, decoration on the middle aisle with carpet, etc. Neither the bride nor the bridesmaids are required to wear lavish gowns as the church only requires a formal white dress.
In other words, it’s up to the couples whether they’ll decide to get married in an expensive church like the Manila Cathedral, have an expensive reception, or choose an expensive destination for their honeymoon.
It’s not the Catholic church but the couples who have made the wedding ceremony an expensive affair in the Philippines.
Now, if you’re one of those lucky few who has a budget for a church wedding, there are specific requirements aside from the marriage license that you need to fulfill a few months (i.e., 6 months to at least 2 months) before the wedding date.
This is because the documents listed below have different validity periods, and it’s your responsibility to ensure they don’t expire before your scheduled wedding date.
Catholic Church Wedding Requirements: An Overview
Here are the BASIC requirements you need to complete to get married in a Catholic church in the Philippines:
- Marriage License
- Baptismal and Confirmation (“Kumpil”) Certificates
- PSA Birth Certificates
- Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)
- Canonical Interview
- Pre-Cana/Marriage Preparation Seminar
- Marriage Banns
- List of Principal Sponsors and Entourage Members
- Wedding Permit (if applicable)
- Confession (if applicable)
- 2 x 2 ID size pictures
Additional Catholic Church Wedding Requirements if Annulled
For those previously married in a Catholic church, you also need to secure an annulment clearance paper from your Archdiocese.
This annulment process is done to declare the previous church wedding null and void. It’s different from the civil rites annulment process that legally changes the status of your previous marriage as invalid.
Additional Catholic Church Wedding Requirements if Mixed Marriage
For “mixed marriages” where the other party is a non-Catholic, you need to get Clearance from the Archdiocesan Chancery Office at the Archbishop’s Office, 121 Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila.
To obtain this document, the non-Catholic bride or groom must submit a Letter of Approval from the Pastor of the non-Catholic sect that not only approves the marriage but also declares the person has never been married.
For foreigners, Legal Capacity to be Married issued by the embassy and Dispensation of Approval from the Parish Priest where the person currently resides is required.
For a complete list of requirements, contact the Archbishop’s Office directly.
Additional Catholic Church Wedding Requirements if Widowed
For widow or widower, bring a copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse and present it to the parish church.
Additional Catholic Church Wedding Requirement if Renewal of Vow
For renewal of vows, present a copy of the Catholic Marriage Contract.
Catholic Church Wedding Requirements: A More Detailed Discussion
a. Marriage License
The document must be valid and not expired. Whether you’re getting married in a church or civil rites, the list of requirements and the procedure for obtaining a marriage license is the same. If you previously married in a civil wedding, you must submit a registered marriage contract instead.
b. Baptismal and Confirmation (“Kumpil”) Certificates (6 Months Validity)
Baptism and confirmation (“kumpil”) are two of the seven sacraments that you need to receive before you can be married in a Catholic church in the Philippines.
You can obtain the certificates from the same parish where you received these sacraments.
The copies that you’ll submit must be original and with an annotation “For marriage purposes only.” Depending on the church, you may be required to submit these upon application or 2 – 3 months before your wedding date.
Some parishes can’t issue these documents instantly as they don’t have digital records of these files yet. Make sure to process these papers as early as possible.
In case you’ve never been confirmed in the parish that has jurisdiction over where you live, and you’re planning to get married in a church outside of it, you’ll be required by the latter to obtain a “Certificate of No Record” from your parish. This certificate, which proves you’ve never been confirmed yet, must be annotated with “For marriage purposes only.”
Submit the certificate to the church that will officiate your wedding. As per the current rule, those who have never been confirmed will receive their confirmation from the church where the wedding will take place. If you will get married in your parish church, then the “Certificate of No Record” is not necessary.
c. Latest Copy of PSA Birth Certificate and Certificate of No Record of Marriage (CENOMAR)
You can secure these documents either online (recommended for those based abroad) or by going to the PSA (formerly NSO) office.
Most churches accept birth certificates as long as they are still within 6 months from the date of issuance.
d. Canonical Interview
This is when you and your partner will meet the parish priest (or his assistant) of your chosen church.
Request the church coordinator to have the interview scheduled 1 to 2 months before your wedding.
The parish may also send you a list of questions before the interview to give you more time to prepare. During the interview, the priest will explore your decision to get married by asking questions about your family background, how long you have known each other, and so forth.
e. Pre-Cana/Marriage Preparation Seminar
Because marriage is a lifelong commitment, this seminar is provided to help couples learn more about each other, resolve any issues before getting married, and gain insights into their future life together.
Topics may include parenting, sexuality, and family planning, among others. Although most parish churches conduct the seminar every month, you should still ask the church coordinator about the schedules to make sure you won’t miss it.
Some churches also recognize other independent organizations like Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE), Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM), and Discovery Weekend Philippines (DW), which provide seminars or retreats for couples. If you attend seminars from any of these, you need to submit certificates of attendance as proof.
If either you or your partner is currently based abroad, a certificate of attendance from the local parish is enough.
Update: Due to the changes brought about by the pandemic, Pre-Cana or marriage preparation seminars are also now offered online. For more information, please inquire at your church.
f. Marriage Banns
These are written wedding announcements that will be posted on the bulletin boards of the couple’s respective parishes.
To obtain the marriage banns, both the bride and groom must know the specific name of their respective parish priest and the address of their parochial church.
After receiving this information, the wedding church will prepare a letter requesting the marriage banns.
The banns will be posted in the couple’s parishes for three consecutive weeks, which explains why you must complete the wedding requirements at least a month before the event.
Afterward, you can retrieve the letter from the parish office with a reply indicating that no impediments exist and that the wedding can push through. You will then submit this signed letter to the church where the wedding will take place.
g. List of Principal Sponsors and Entourage Members (a.k.a. “Ninongs” and “Ninangs”)
The copy of the wedding invitation along with the official list of entourage members should be submitted to the parish church where you’ll get married a week before your wedding date.
Ask the church for any restrictions or additional requirements before finalizing the list. Some churches only allow a maximum number of principal sponsors, and you may get fined if you go overboard.
The Manila Cathedral, for example, only allows a maximum of eight pairs of sponsors to make sure the wedding ceremony won’t exceed the allotted time.
Note that the names of the principal sponsors are important as they will be included in the marriage license.
h. Wedding or Marriage Permit
Also known as the Certificate of Freedom to Marry, this document may only be required for those abroad.
While CENOMAR is required before you can obtain a marriage license, the Certificate of Freedom to Marry is a requirement of the church itself.
You need to obtain it from the parish where you usually attend. Requirements and fees may vary from one parish to another, so contact your church abroad directly.
Some churches require couples to attend confession days before the wedding. Through this event, they will be forgiven of their sins and receive the most out of the sacrament.
j. 2 x 2 ID Size Pictures
You and your future spouse must have several copies as you will need them not only when applying for a marriage license but also when processing other church requirements like Marriage Banns.
k. Other Requirements
- List of songs, if applicable.
- Permits for photographers and videographers, if applicable.
Note: If you have other questions, please contact your city hall or church directly. Know the exact date and time when all the requirements will be released so you can plan your wedding hassle-free.
How To Get Married Secretly in the Philippines
Is secret marriage possible in the Philippines? If secret marriage means the parties contracted marriage without anyone knowing, then secret marriage is not possible and does not apply in the Philippines.
This is because under Art. 17 of the Family Code, the local civil registrar, where the parties are applying for a marriage license, is required to prepare a notice and post the same for ten consecutive days on a bulletin board outside the office located in a conspicuous place within the building and accessible to the general public. The notice contains the applicants’ names, addresses, and other data.
Likewise, during the marriage ceremony, your declaration that you take each other as husband and wife must be witnessed by at least two persons of legal age.
However, if secret marriage means you do not want to let your family and friends know you are getting married, then it might be possible if you live in a big city where no one knows you or each other or even your neighbors.
The Aftermath: How To Get a Marriage Certificate
A marriage certificate is an important document containing details of your marriage, signed by the couple and witnesses or all in attendance.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, a marriage certificate “is a document that shows social union or a legal contract between people that creates kinship. Such a union, often formalized via a wedding ceremony, may also be called matrimony.”
Fortunately, you can apply for a marriage certificate online and have it delivered anywhere in the Philippines or abroad in a few simple steps.
How To Get Marriage Certificate in the Philippines: 7 Steps
1. Go to PSA online application website and select Click here to request now.
2. Read the Terms and Conditions and click I Accept.
3. Enter your name and contact details into the “Contact and Delivery Information” form.
In the Delivery address, you can choose the country and address where you want the marriage certificate to be delivered.
Once you’re done, click Next. A box will then appear summarizing all the information you’ve just entered. If everything is accurate, click Confirm.
4. Add a request by clicking the button that corresponds to Marriage Certificate.
5. Enter all the requested information in the designated boxes. If you’re requesting a marriage certificate, you need to provide the following information:
- The number of copies requested
- Husband’s name or wife’s maiden name
- Place and date of marriage
- Purpose of the request
Once you’re done, click Save.
6. Upon completing the online application, you will be issued a Batch Request Number and a corresponding Batch Reference Number.
When paying for all requests in a batch, indicate the Batch Request Number. If you’re only paying for a particular request only, specify the Batch Reference Number.
As of this writing, the marriage certificate costs PHP 330 per copy, which is inclusive of government taxes, processing, and delivery. If you’re applying from another country, the cost is USD 20.30 per copy.
You may pay through the following accredited payment channels:
Delivery within the Philippines:
- Credit card.
- BDO Branches, Online Banking (BDO account holders only), and ATM (BDO account holders only).
- Unionbank Branches, Online Banking (Unionbank account holders only), and ATM (Unionbank account holders only).
- Bayad Center.
Delivery to other countries:
- Credit card.
- BDO Remit subsidiary offices and remittance partners abroad offering Kabayan Bills Bayad.
- Foreign correspondent banks.
7. Wait for your marriage certificate to be delivered.
The following are the estimated delivery times according to delivery address:
- Metro Manila – 3 to 5 working days after payment
- Cities or provinces within the Philippines – 4 to 9 working days after payment
- Other countries: 6 to 8 weeks after payment
If you’re in the Philippines and you want to receive the marriage certificate within 1 to 2 days, you may apply in person at the nearest Census Serbilis Center. For those in other countries, a special courier service offers faster delivery.
Frequently Asked Questions
5. What is the difference between parental consent and parental advice? Can I use them interchangeably?
9. How can we apply for a marriage license if one or both of us work abroad (with limited vacation leaves)?
14. We were already married in a civil ceremony but want to get married again, this time at a church wedding. How?
15. If a couple decides to have a civil wedding before a church wedding in the Philippines, is the latter considered a “renewal of vows”?
16. If we are already civilly married and then decide to get married in the church, do we need to apply for a marriage license again?
17. I just got married abroad. Do I need to report my marriage to the Philippine Embassy? Why and how?
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Executive Order No. 209: The Family Code of the Philippines (1987). Manila.
- Marriage in the Philippines, 2016. (2018). Retrieved 25 July 2020, from https://psa.gov.ph/content/marriage-philippines-2016
- Arenas, J. (2017). Love Actually: ‘Yes, A Civil Wedding Can Be More Practical And Charming Over A Church Ceremony!’. Retrieved 25 July 2020, from https://lifestyle.abs-cbn.com/articles/5344/love-actually-yes-a-civil-wedding-can-be-more-practical-and-charming-over-a-church-ceremony
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 (1991).