Everything you need to know about marriage in Georgia
Every year, over 16,000 marriages are performed in Georgia, a transcontinental country situated between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Marriage is an important subject to Georgians and is looked forward to by various spouses and their families. The country is quite diverse, and marriages are celebrated in different ways according to the religious and traditional beliefs of the spouses. Also, Georgia is a popular location for destination weddings due to its beautiful natural attractions like mountains and its rich culture. Georgian weddings are usually grand and elaborate events. In fact, most Georgian wedding ceremonies are often attended by hundreds of people, with multiple ceremonial rites performed throughout the wedding.
Georgia is one of the best countries in the world to get married because the marriage laws are quite favorable for non-Georgians. The process of getting married is simple and quick. Tourists may even decide to tie the knot in the country without much planning due to how fast the marriage procedures are. The country is quite religious, and a lot of marriages and their ceremonial rites are performed under the flag of the respective religious belief and its denomination. The two major types of marriages in the country are civil and religious marriages. These two marriages are recognized under the laws of the country; however, a civil marriage is the only legally binding one, and it must be performed before the religious ceremony.
The goal behind Georgian ceremonies is to leave a lasting impression and create memories with families and friends that will last forever. The legal marriage age in the country is 18 years, and in some special cases, minors may be allowed to perform a marriage. The age below the legal age that is acceptable in Georgia is 17 years (with parental consent). If a marriage is held by a person below this age, it will result in its invalidity. More conditions guiding the act of marriage in Georgia will be discussed later on in this article as we continue.
A civil marriage is recognized and protected by the laws of Georgia. Both foreigners and Georgian nationals are able to perform civil marriages in the country. Such marriages are performed in the registry office or service hall and officiated by a state-authorized registrar. Civil marriages include various processes that must be followed by both spouses; however, the marriage procedures are verified quickly.
In most countries in the world, after the submission of documents, there is often a waiting period of some days or weeks during which the documents submitted are verified; however, the case is different in Georgia. A marriage can be registered in one day, and the whole process of conducting the ceremony generally lasts less than 40 minutes. This makes it one of the fastest countries in the world to get married.
After the marriage registration process is complete, spouses will obtain a marriage certificate from the Public Service Hall. In cases where the marriage registration was held abroad, the certificate can be obtained from the consulate or embassy of Georgia. Moving on, there are conditions that must be met by spouses getting married in Georgia to ensure their eligibility. These are stated below.
Conditions for marriage
- The minimum marriage age is 18 years, and this age must be reached by both spouses.; under special circumstances, a person aged 17 may be allowed to marry.
- Both partners getting married must be single and not in a marriage with another person.
- A marriage is only valid when both partners give their consent and free will.
- Biological or adopted siblings and parents are not allowed to perform marriages in Georgia.
- A foreign spouse must legally reside in Georgia when they are marrying a Georgian national.
- Both spouses must submit a joint written marriage application.
- A valid means of identification such as a national identity card or valid passport
- Both partners are required to provide two witnesses within their legal capacity to act as such.
- Government-issued birth certificates
- Divorce or death certificate. This must be submitted by previously married spouses as proof of the legal termination of the former marriage.
- Proof of payment of service fees
All documents obtained from the consulate or embassy of a foreign spouse’s home country must be apostilled to prove their legitimacy. The official language in Georgia is Georgian, and the submitted paperwork must be in this language. Foreign spouses may provide an interpreter during the course of the marriage ceremony if it is not going to be performed in English.
The predominant religion in Georgia is Christianity. Religious marriages also hold legal ground in the country as long as a civil marriage is performed first. The orthodox Christian church is the largest denomination in Georgia, with over 80% of the total population. This is followed by other religions and denominations like Islam, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and other people who are irreligious. Religion is an important subject to Georgians, and church marriages are held in high regard.
Before a marriage ceremony is conducted in the church, the couples must consult the priest and make him aware of the oncoming ceremony. It is up to the priest to determine if he wants the marriage ceremony to take place in the church or not. Upon the approval of the priest, the bride and groom may proceed to book the church for their wedding date. A lot of Christian church marriages happen in Georgia, and spouses may have to book several weeks or months before their fixed marriage date. To perform a church ceremony, both spouses must be baptized and of the same faith as the church. Also, the couple is required to get their engagement rings, have two witnesses, and provide evidence that both spouses are single before the ceremony.
Marriage Traditions in Georgia
This is a unique Georgian marriage tradition that refers to the matchmaking process. This ritual is often performed in the bride's family house, where the groom and his parents go to ask for her hand in marriage. It is the responsibility of both parents to bless the couple and support the marriage once they are satisfied.
Typical Georgian wedding ceremonies are usually colorful and extravagant, and after the church ceremony is completed, there is often a procession to the wedding reception. Here, the newlyweds are accompanied to the new location by their family members and other guests in limousines and various beautiful cars. They frequently make mound noises with their horns while screaming to notify the neighborhood that a wedding is taking place.
The custom is for various gifts to be shared during the wedding reception. During the reception party, guests often approach the newlyweds where they are seated to say prayers and offer their best wishes. This is often accompanied with multiple gift items.
Same-sex and polygamous marriages
Same-sex marriages are not allowed in Georgia. The marriage or union of two partners of the same sex is constitutionally banned. Members of the LGBT community face legal challenges that other types of marriage do not. The status of being a homosexual in Georgia is legal, but the discrimination towards same-sex couples is quite high and may result in physical violence or abuse.
Polygamy is neither allowed nor recognized in Georgia. A man or woman is only allowed to be in a relationship or marriage with one person at a time. To enter a new marriage, the previous one will have to be terminated and legally dissolved. Christianity is the major religious faith in this country, and it does not permit polygamy either. This type of marriage is very rare in Georgia, and only in some cases are people found to be practicing polygamy, even in rural communities.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
Laws are important to regulate how things are done. The laws of marriage are put in place to regulate the process and procedure through which marriage is contracted. In the country of Georgia, the laws of marriage are not complex; both citizens and foreigners can easily comprehend and abide by these laws. The law states that a person who wishes to enter into marriage may do so civilly or religiously, but only a marriage conducted and registered at the civil registry holds any legal value. A civil marriage is celebrated at a civil registry by an authorized official, after which a marriage certificate is issued; a religious marriage, on the other hand, is conducted in the place of worship of the spouses' religion and must be conducted by an authorized minister or priest.
According to the definition of marriage in the country, marriages between same-sex couples are not recognized; however, homosexual activity is legal within the country. Couples who are related by blood are prohibited from marrying one another; any form of incestuous or consanguineous marriage is against the law. Foreigners are allowed to marry in Georgia; many couples come from various parts of the world to contract marriage in the country, but they both must be eligible to contract marriage in their home country to be able to wed in Georgia. Any person or persons prohibited from contracting marriage in his or her home country is not permitted to do so in Georgia.
The legal age for marriage is 18 years for both males and females; the law allows all citizens who have reached the legal age to contract marriage without parental consent; however, minors who wish to marry must be at least 17 years old and have parental consent. In the absence of permission from parents, the couples can present written permission from a legal guardian or a court's permission. Both parties must be in a sound and stable state of mind to be able to give consent to marriage. Consent must be obtained without the use of force or threats; the couples must give their consent to marriage voluntarily, without any influence from external parties. Any marriage contracted with the use of force or without the consent of either of the couples shall be declared void, and anyone who authorizes such a marriage is liable to face imprisonment for up to four years.
Both foreigners and nationals must present valid documentation for marriage to be considered legal; any false documentation can render the marriage void. Neither of the couples must be in any marriage while contracting a new marriage agreement; if any of the spouses have been married in the past, the affected spouse must present proof of the dissolution of marriage; a certificate of death of the deceased spouse in the case of widowhood or a certificate of divorce in the case of separation must be submitted; if the affected spouse had a child from the previous marriage, the birth certificate of the child must be submitted as well. The marriage certificate obtained from the country of Georgia is globally recognized.
The rights of couples in the country of Georgia are enshrined in the Constitution, and any form of infringement on these rights is prohibited. Both couples have the right to be regarded as the head of the home; the law does not specifically state that this role belongs to the husband or the wife. They both have the right to work and receive meaningful payment for that work without facing any discrimination due to their marital status; all citizens, married or unmarried, have the right to work and pursue career ambitions. They possess the right to bear children and adopt, provided they have the means to do so; they also have the right to raise the children according to the chosen moral beliefs of the family.
Both the husband and wife have the right to exercise parental authority when necessary. They both have the right to perform their roles as the legal guardians of the children at any point in time until the children are adults or are able to fend for themselves. The wife has the same right as the husband to confer nationality on the children and her husband if she is married to a foreigner or if the children are born outside the country. The right to initiate divorce is available to both parties.
Once the breakdown of the marriage is perceived and there are no hopes of retrieval, the husband and wife can decide to terminate the marriage based on mutual agreement from both parties or for particular reasons such as desertion, infidelity, abuse, etc. They both have the right to run for political positions and participate in political activities without any form of discrimination. Both the husband and wife have equal rights to property and inheritance, both land assets and non-land assets.
The cost of marriage in Georgia can either be very expensive or very affordable; it all depends on the financial ability of the couple. To contract a civil marriage in Georgia, couples should expect to spend around 170 GEL to hold a marriage outside the premises of the civil registry. Any wedding contracted during the weekend at the civil registry costs around 150 GEL, while weddings contracted on business days at the civil registry cost around 90 GEL. Marriage conducted at the territorial office with special services costs around 50 GEL, while marriage conducted at the same location without any special services is done for free.
The attire of both couples is important. Bieber couples who are looking to cut costs can decide to rent the attire, while more financially stable couples can buy it; the cost is not fixed, therefore it may cost around 300–1000 GEL. The flowers and decorations can cost around 200–250 GEL, but the bride's flower bouquet alone costs around 100–150 GEL. If the witnesses or bridesmaids have to carry bouquets, then the cost would be increased. Wedding cakes are often expensive, but it all still depends on how much the couples are willing to spend on the ceremony.
They usually cost around 100–200 GEL. Couples all over the world capture images or record videos of their wedding days to remember that special moment. In Georgia, the cost of hiring a photographer is around 500 GEL. An intimate ceremony with just 40 people in attendance should cost an average of 800 GEL at a restaurant with food and live music.
The law recognizes the equality of husband and wife in the home; therefore, the roles and responsibilities are divided equally. Women are naturally considered to take on the duty of being the primary caregiver of the children and her husband; however, this stereotype is no longer prevalent in the country, as husbands are now taking on roles as primary caregivers in the home alongside their wives.
The law does not obligate the woman to always obey her husband, but they both have a duty to respect each other's opinions and not impose one view on another. They both have a duty to jointly contribute to the welfare of the family; they are responsible for the provision of basic amenities such as food, clothing, and shelter.
The husband and wife have a duty to protect the family and themselves from any form of harm or danger that might come to them. They are both responsible for the decision-making when it comes to important decisions that affect the family.
Getting married in Georgia is simple and very fast. A marriage registration can be concluded in a day. The country allowed both foreigners and native Georgians to perform marriages. Most times, foreigners conduct civil marriages; however, they may also perform a religious marriage provided that they are eligible.
Church marriages also have various criteria that must be met by the two spouses getting married. They must both be baptized and single at the time of marriage. Also, they cannot be related to each other. The priest conducts an interview before approving the marriage, and he can decide to deny or delay the marriage from happening in the church. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in Georgia.
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