Getting Married In The Philippines
Marriage is a formal way of showing one’s commitment to another, even though in the west it might be losing some ground to the ‘partner’ or de-facto arrangement, often referred to as a ‘Common Law’ marriage. In the Philippines marriage is still a sacred institution and it is treated as such.
There is no divorce in the Philippines, only annulment of the marriage and the grounds for this to be granted are few and difficult to prove unless you are wealthy. Basically you need to file a case that shows the other party was mentally incapable of contracting marriage at the time they married, no matter how many years down the track this might be.
For the foreigner, or ‘expat’, marrying a Filipina will entail a lot of time, money, red tape and legal hoops to jump through. Of course the end result is worth the effort but it pays to have an idea of what is in store for the potential husband of a Filipina.
If she is still married then you need to obtain the annulment already mentioned. This is a long and expensive process and made more so once they know a ‘Kano’ (as in Amerikano) is involved. Try to stay well out of the spotlight if you can.
If you were divorced then you will need proof of the divorce decree absolut. You will also need a statement of capacity to marry (CENOMAR), also known as a certificate of no impediment to marry. You will need to apply for a marriage license. The license then allows you, after a ten day waiting period and a mandatory counseling session, get married.
You will need paperwork from your embassy in Manila stating you are free to marry, you can’t get this done back home as it is unacceptable. Her CENOMAR is issued by the Bureau of Statistics and it will go with her birth certificate, baptismal certificate, certificate to say you endured the counseling session and of course either parental permission or parental approval depending on how old she is. And there is more to be aware of, all of which is explained in detail in ‘Filipina 202 – How To Marry And Migrate Your Dream Filipina’.
Of course once the knot is tied it isn’t over yet. You still have to get her home and that too is covered in this authoritative text. None of this takes into account the sheer logistical challenges of organizing the wedding, the reception and all the other myriad details while you are both still thousands of miles apart.
If you think every Filipino town has a wedding consultant you can email or look up on the web you are in for a shock. Finding photographers, organizing dresses and making sure there is decent transport on hand are all problems you will need to resolve. Can you marry in the church or will you have to find a civil celebrant? Who can marry you and where are the local civil registrar offices?
The good news is that while it isn’t as easy as it might be back home, Filipinos get married all the time and they seem to be able to arrange things more or less. Be advised you will foot the bill 100% but the amount will be a fraction of what it would cost to hold it in the United States or any other western country.
Our best advice is within the pages of ‘Filipina 202’. We have been there and done that and have included the experiences of several couples to give you a good overview of what to expect and how to deal with it all.