Last Updated on 03/16/2021 by FilipiKnow
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 couples ought to know.
Table of Contents
- Who can get married in the Philippines?
- Updated (2021): How to Have a Wedding in the Philippines Under the New Normal.
- 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 – 21.
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if 22 – 25.
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirement if Widowed.
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Annulled.
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Filipino Who Got Divorced Abroad.
- Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if Foreign Applicant.
- Civil Wedding Requirements: A More Detailed Discussion.
- How to Get Married in a Civil Ceremony in the Philippines: 12 Steps.
- 1. Pick a wedding date.
- 2. Decide on a budget.
- 3. Obtain a marriage license.
- 4. Choose where the civil ceremony will take place.
- 5. Determine who will officiate at your wedding.
- 6. Send out invitations to your guests and witnesses (optional).
- 7. Plan your wedding reception.
- 8. Write your wedding vows.
- 9. Shop for wedding rings.
- 10. Choose your wedding attire.
- 11. Hire a wedding photographer (optional).
- 12. Enjoy the civil wedding program.
- Part II. Church Wedding.
- Catholic Church Wedding Requirements: An Overview.
- Catholic Church Wedding Requirements: A More Detailed Discussion.
- The Aftermath: Obtaining your 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. How can I get married in the Philippines with a foreigner?
- 4. How can we apply for a marriage license if one or both of us work abroad (with limited vacation leaves)?
- 5. Who are exempted from getting a marriage license?
- 6. Are live-in partners exempted from marriage license application?
- 7. I’m a Catholic but my partner is not. Can we still get married in a Catholic Church?
- 8. Does the Catholic Church recognize civil marriage?
- 9. We were already married in a civil ceremony but want to get married again, this time at a church wedding. How?
- 10. If a couple decides to have a civil wedding before church wedding in the Philippines, is the latter considered a “renewal of vows”?
- 11. 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?
- 12. I just got married abroad. Do I need to report my marriage to the Philippine Embassy? Why and how?
- 13. We just got married. What should we do first after the wedding?
Who can get married in the Philippines?
If you’re planning to get married in the Philippines, there are few legal requirements you need to know first, especially if you or your would-be spouse is 25 years old or below. Here are some of them:
- 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 4th degree) and should be free of legal impediments, such as being in a previous marriage (unless annulled, widowed, or divorced).
After confirming that both of you are qualified to get married, proceed to the succeeding steps.
Updated (2021): How to Have a Wedding in the Philippines Under the New Normal.
Due to the pandemic, big gatherings are strictly prohibited. Social distancing and wearing a mask are now a must.
As a result, there has been a significant shift in the wedding industry. A simple ceremony where you are surrounded only by your immediate family is now encouraged instead of an extravagant one.
This is great news for couples on a budget but bad news for those who prefer a more lavish, Instagrammable celebration.
Follow the guidelines below to have an intimate but memorable wedding under the new normal.
Note: If you want to know the wedding requirements in the Philippines, jump to the succeeding sections where civil and church weddings are discussed in detail.
Guidelines for getting married (in Catholic churches) amid the pandemic.
The following are the guidelines for liturgical celebrations and other ceremonies (e.g. weddings, baptisms, etc.) recently published by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)1.
- No more entourage/ abay. Only the bride and groom, the parents of the couple, and one set of sponsors can attend the church wedding ceremony. The best man and bridesmaid are prohibited for now.
- Attendees and all people involved in the wedding should wear a mask at all times.
- Hand sanitizers, thermal scanners, and foot baths should be made available.
- Social distancing measures should be observed. There must be at least a 1-meter distance between people.
- Areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) are only allowing gatherings of up to ten people. For areas under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), religious gatherings, such as weddings, are limited to only five people.
Wedding trends under the new normal.
Are you wondering which wedding trends are now thriving under the new normal? We’ve compiled some of them for your reference.
- Micro weddings. More intimate and smaller-scale weddings are evident during these trying times. Couples have no choice but to downsize their celebration in order to meet government regulations. This is great for the couple since they can hold off their grand wedding until at least 2022 thus giving them more time to prepare.
- Intimate guest list. With micro weddings, the guest list is only limited to the couple’s immediate families. This may be a difficult task for the couple but it ensures all of their loved ones will be safe and healthy.
- Sequel weddings/ Multiple celebrations. As micro weddings become trendy, couples opt to celebrate their wedding again this/ next year with an extended guest list. Other couples may opt to host a series of small celebrations in order to include all their guests by batch. This way, they can still celebrate their precious moments with all the people they love, despite the situation.
- Weekday ceremonies. Vendors and venues have limited slots for weekends in 2021 therefore couples resort to the idea of having their weddings on weekdays. This allows the couple to celebrate their momentous moment at their dream place and hire their desired vendors. In the process, they’re also supporting professionals in the wedding industry who were badly affected by the pandemic.
- Alfresco venues/ backyard weddings. With a smaller guest list, it is only appropriate to celebrate the wedding in a smaller yet more intimate venue. Backyard weddings, for instance, are cost-efficient since you no longer have to book any special venues for the celebration.
- Zoom weddings. With travel restrictions in place, Zoom has become the best platform for couples and their loved ones to celebrate weddings virtually. You can either organize a Zoom wedding on your own or avail of any of the Zoom wedding packages offered online.
- Extravagant decor. With weddings becoming more small and intimate, the couples now have more budget for decorations and food. Decorations can breathe more life into the venue even if it is a backyard wedding. Mood lighting, for example, can help set the tone and mood of the event. It can help make the venue classy and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
- Eco-friendly approach. Due to the current situation, digital invitations are now more convenient than printed wedding invites. Many are also choosing to give flowers as favors to minimize waste.
- “New normal” favors/ souvenirs. Couples can customize face masks and hand sanitizers and give them as favors. Their initials, logo, and/or wedding date can be embedded in face masks or placed in hand sanitizers as stickers.
- Transformative attire. Adaptability of an outfit to different looks is the trend nowadays and this can also be seen in the wedding industry. Brides can transform their wedding dress into something chic for the reception or re-wear it with a twist for her sequel wedding.
- Assigned seating. All attendees have their own seat assignments to guarantee that safety measures are met during the ceremony.
- Pod seating. To comply with social distancing guidelines, attendees can be placed in a pod seating arrangements during the reception, with around 4 to 6 people in each pod (instead of the usual 10 to 12).
- Mini wedding cakes. As a safety precaution, each guest receives small individual mini cakes which can be served at the reception or given as a wedding souvenir. Not only is it safer but can also add aesthetics to your Instagram feed!
- Celebration care packages. Couples can send celebration boxes to guests so they can join them in their virtual Zoom weddings. This way, you can make the celebration special even if they are not physically there with you. Some couples give out custom cocktail kits or mini bottles of bubbly whereas others give mini wedding cakes or even a full meal.
- Unexpected wedding venues. To make the celebration more special with the small guest list, couples are thinking outside of the box. For example, you can hold the venue on a yacht if the budget allows it to make the celebration more memorable for everyone.
Tips and warnings for wedding celebrations under the new normal.
- Select a venue near your house or transform your backyard according to your wedding theme.
- For the wedding program, choose your closest friends to plan and host it.
- Messages from friends and relatives who can’t make it to the event can be pre-recorded and played during the program.
- Buy cakes and other desserts from local bakers not only to save money but also to help struggling businesses get back to their feet.
- For the catering, you may opt to have it delivered to your guests so they can join in the celebration without being physically present.
- Safety protocols such as social distancing, wearing a face mask, and handwashing must be strictly observed. It is also advisable that the guests undergo a swab test, just to be sure.
- Consult with local public health officials and be updated with the news to assess the current situation and from there, decide if the wedding should be moved or canceled.
- Ask the vendors about cancellation fees so you will be prepared in case things don’t work out. With the uncertainty of recent events, you have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Part I. Civil Wedding.
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 that 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 feel the 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 possibly 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 get to 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 prior to 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.
- In case you’ll be 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 in case 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, whether it’s 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 in order to have a civil wedding. Make sure you have original 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 to be presented on the day of application at the city/municipal hall;
- Marriage license application form;
- Barangay Certificate;
- Community Tax Certificate or CEDULA;
- 1×1 picture.
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if 18 – 21.
The legal age for marriage in the Philippines is 18.
For applicants between 18 and 21 years old, a notarized parental consent is required4. The father, mother, or guardian (in the order of mention) can either personally appear with valid ID (original and photocopy) or provide a notarized affidavit.
Additional Civil Wedding Requirements if 22 – 25.
Meanwhile, for applicants between 22 and 25 years old, notarized parental advice is necessary. 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 Who 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 to make 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 need to 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 of them 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 as listed previously.
a. The latest certified true copy of your and your partner’s PSA birth certificates (original and photocopy).
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).
c. Certificate of Attendance in a pre-marriage counseling, family planning, and responsible parenthood seminar.
Most local civil registrars only require couples to attend the seminar if they’re 24 years old or younger.
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. Be sure to check the schedules as some are conducted daily while others have a specific schedule within the week.
Note: Young couples are required by law to attend the seminar. In fact, bypassing the pre-marriage seminar is grounds for annulment.
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 Certificate (original and photocopy).
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. 2 pieces recent ID picture with white background.
This could be 2 x 2 or 1 x 1, depending on your local civil registrar. Most local civil registrars no longer require pictures but better be prepared just in case they request for it.
How to Get Married in a Civil Ceremony in the Philippines: 12 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:
- 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. Apparently, 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 though, revealing that the months of 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 a form of machismo, especially by outsiders who are used to having the bride’s family paying for the wedding expenses.
Civil wedding cost in the Philippines is relatively cheap. In fact, 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 possibly 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 own 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 wedding budget 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 in order 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. The left portion of the sheet should be filled out by the groom while the other half by the bride.
- 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 either in the morning or right after lunch.
- Proceed to the Cashier or Treasury Department and pay the application, filing, and marriage license fees. Take 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 on 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. Choose where the civil ceremony will take place.
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.
Check if the mayor/judge is available on your preferred wedding date. If not, you will be asked to move the schedule.
Or, 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 (see next step).
Some couples are lucky enough to have one of the Supreme Court justices to 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])
In case you want to have a civil wedding 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. Both the wedding ceremony and the reception can happen at the same venue, saving you a lot of time and money.
5. Determine who will officiate at your wedding.
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 resident5. 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 one of the couple to declare the religion only on paper.
- Consuls in Philippine Embassies abroad are also allowed to officiate the civil union between two Filipinos.
6. 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.
By inviting only a few people to your wedding, it makes the special occasion much more intimate, not to mention budget-friendly.
The following people must be included in the wedding guest list:
- At least two witnesses who 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 2 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.
7. Plan your wedding reception.
In any type of wedding, the reception always takes up the bulk of the wedding expenses. Hence, you should pay it 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 that you have a limited number of guests).
Meanwhile, if you prefer to hold the reception outdoors in a garden or at your own residence, there are catering packages being offered for as low as Php 25,000. Some even allow payment installments.
The package already 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.
8. 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 own 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 both of you are in the relationship.
9. 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 is, the more expensive the wedding ring would be.
- Do your own research and find inspiration online to have an idea 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 of the stores make rings that may be too old-fashioned for your taste so make sure to 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.
10. 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 wedding gown or buy a ready-made civil wedding dress in Divisoria for as low as Php 1,200.
Again, you don’t have to wear a wedding dress with elaborate designs.
After all, the 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.
11. Hire a wedding photographer (optional).
While most couples include wedding photography to 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, a 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.
12. 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 availed of a complete wedding package, the program coordinator will usually 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 which eliminates all the trivial stuff usually present in church weddings:
Part I: 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 VIP’s: 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 likes.
Take note that a church wedding in the Philippines is fundamentally not an expensive ceremony. In fact, 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 themselves 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 before your actual wedding.
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 in order to get married in a Catholic church in the Philippines:
- Marriage License
- Baptismal and Confirmation certificates
- PSA Birth Certificate
- 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)
Additional Catholic Church Wedding Requirements if Annulled.
For those who have been previously married in a Catholic church, you also need to secure annulment clearance paper from your Archdiocese.
This annulment process is done to declare the previous church wedding as 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 before.
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 requirement, 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 in 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 certificates (6 months validity).
Because marriage is one of the church sacraments, you and your partner must submit proof that you have previously received the sacrament of baptism.
The copies that you’ll submit must be new 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.
c. Latest Copy of PSA birth certificate and Certificate of No Record of Marriage (CENOMAR).
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 to 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 prior to getting married, and gain insights about their future life together.
Topics may include parenting, sexuality, 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.
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 then 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 need to complete the wedding requirements at least a month before the event.
Afterward, you can now retrieve the letter from the parish office with a reply indicating that no impediments exist and that the wedding can push through.
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.
Make sure to 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 Certificate of Freedom to Marry, this document may only be required for those who are based 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. Other requirements:
- ID pictures. Size, color, and the number will depend on your church’s 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.
The Aftermath: Obtaining your 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 Terms and Conditions and click “I Accept.”
3. Enter your name and contact details to the “Contact and Delivery Information” form.
In the Delivery address, you can choose the specific 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.
4. How can we apply for a marriage license if one or both of us work abroad (with limited vacation leaves)?
9. We were already married in a civil ceremony but want to get married again, this time at a church wedding. How?
10. If a couple decides to have a civil wedding before church wedding in the Philippines, is the latter considered a “renewal of vows”?
11. 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?
12. I just got married abroad. Do I need to report my marriage to the Philippine Embassy? Why and how?
- Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) NEWS. (2020). Recommendations and Guidelines for the Liturgical Celebration in ‘New Normal’ Condition. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from
- 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. Executive Order No. 209: The Family Code of the Philippines (1987). Manila.
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 (1991).