Everything you need to know about marriage in Peru
Peru is a western South American country that has beautiful marriage traditions and venues throughout the country. The country is a popular location for destination marriages, as both nationals and various foreigners from around the world get married there every year. The two main types of marriages in Peru are civil and religious/traditional marriages. However, a civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is legally binding in the country. Religious or traditional marriages are optional and often held after the civil marriage has been concluded. These types of marriages are not recognized or protected by law. The largest religion in the country is Christianity. Most of the people living in Peru are members of the Roman Catholic Church denomination.
Religious marriage ceremonies are very popular in Peru due to the large number of Christians living in the country. Most times, couples set aside a separate day entirely from the civil ceremony to have their religious and traditional wedding ceremonies. The legal age to get married in the country is 18 years, and this is one of the major conditions or requirements that are considered before couples are permitted to marry in the country. Peru makes provisions for both foreigners and native Peruvians to get married in the country.
Symbolic and traditional wedding ceremonies are also quite popular in Peru, and the country has great destinations for weddings such as the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas. For a Peruvian marriage to be legal and recognized by the law, it must be performed by a state-authorized officiant, who will issue a marriage certificate to the couple. This article will help you understand everything marriage in Peru entails, from the traditions to the laws, rights, and duties guiding marriage in the country. Let’s get started.
A civil marriage in Peru is performed by an authorized registrar and held at the municipality where the couple plans to get married. A civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is recognized and protected by law in Peru. This means that couples who want to have religious ceremonies or other types of marriage, such as symbolic and secular ceremonies, must first complete their civil marriage process before proceeding with others. To marry in Peru, it is required for at least one of the partners to be a legal resident in Peru, and an additional requirement is for at least one partner to be living in the same municipality where the marriage ceremony will take place.
Regulations in Peru are often subject to change, and the documents required to get married in Peru vary across various municipalities. To have a lawful civil marriage ceremony, couples must ensure they have all the valid required documents to avoid delays or changes when the planned wedding day is already near. The documents that are required by spouses who are planning to get married in Peru are stated below:
Documents Required for Marriage in Peru
- An official application form. This must be filled out by both spouses, and their intention to marry each other must be stated before the municipality.
- A valid means of identification such as a Peruvian national ID or passport
- Government-issued birth certificate. This document must be an original certified copy that was issued no later than 3 months from the time of submission. Foreigners submitting this document must ensure it is notarized, apostilled, and translated into Spanish.
- Certificate of single status. This is referred to as the "certificado de solteria," which serves as the paperwork to prove a spouse is single and not in any current relationship, union, or marriage with anyone other than their current partner. For foreign nationals, a sworn affidavit is required to serve as a declaration that they are currently single and are eligible and not prohibited from getting married in both Peru and their home country. All foreign documents must be apostille-legalized and translated into Spanish by a local translator.
- Proof of residence At least one of the partners getting married must be currently living in the same municipality where the marriage ceremony will be held, and this paperwork will serve as evidence for this. This applies to both native Peruvians and foreign nationals living in Peru.
- Both partners must provide two witnesses. These witnesses are to be provided at two separate times: when submitting the document and on the day of the marriage ceremony. These witnesses must be within their legal capacity to carry out this job, and they must not be family members. Couples are advised to use only trustworthy people as witnesses because if, on the day of the wedding, a registered witness is absent, the marriage ceremony will not take place.\
- Divorce certificate or decree. This certificate is required from spouses who were in a previous marriage that got separated and, as a result, terminated the marriage lawfully. The majority of the municipalities in Peru request evidence that all previous marriages were legally resolved. As stated before, foreign nationals who request this paperwork from their home country or embassy in Peru must ensure it is apostille-certified and translated into Spanish by an accredited translator.
- Death certificate. This document is required for spouses who were in a previous marriage where their former partner died. There are some municipalities in the country that may also demand a marriage certificate from the former marriage. Also, couples must note that a municipality may request a pregnancy test from a woman whose previous marriage was resolved and who wants to get married within 300 days of the death of or separation from their previous partner.
In Peru, a religious marriage is optional and is only performed by Christians in the country. Most Peruvians are Roman Catholics and hold their wedding ceremonies according to the laws and customs of the church. A religious marriage in Peru is not legally binding, and couples must first get married in a civil ceremony before progressing with a church wedding. The usual marriage rites of the church service for a wedding are followed by the couple and the officiating priest. During the ceremony, the priest prays for the bride and groom and asks the crowd if no one objects to the marriage. Once nobody objects to the union between both couples, they exchange vows and rings, and the priest pronounces them husband and wife. However, just like in most other churches, there are certain documents and conditions that are required from both partners before they are allowed to get married in the church. These are the states below:
- Both spouses' birth certificates
- A valid national ID or passport
- Both spouses must provide a baptismal certificate that has been appropriately legalized by the authorized notary of the archdiocese.
- Religious pre-marriage counseling This is usually done by the priest of the church parish.
- Certificate of Confirmation This must also be provided by the authorized notary of the archdiocese.
- Both spouses are required to submit two spouses each who are legally fit and not related to them by any means.
- A public declaration of intent to marry This may be traditionally announced in the church during a mass or published in a church magazine and pasted on the notice board.
Spouses are required to pay the necessary application fees and possible donations.
Same-sex marriage and polygamy in Peru
Same-sex marriage is legal in Peru; however, this type of marriage still faces some constraints and discrimination in the country. Couples in same-sex marriages and registered partnership relationships often face some legal challenges that are not experienced by those in opposite-sex marriages. Same-sex couples do not enjoy all of the rights and benefits of marriage in Peru. Also, since most of the people living in Peru are Christians, there are certain churches and priests that still frown on the act and do not perform same-sex marriages.
Polygamy is legal in Peru; however, it is relative. In some communities, a man may be allowed to marry more than one woman if his religion, such as Islam, allows it. Muslims living in Peru are allowed to be legally married to more than one partner; however, a man may only marry multiple wives, and a woman is not allowed to get married to multiple men. Traditionally, the Asheninka in Peru practice both monogamous and polygamous relationships, and polygamy is still very popular among these families in rural areas such as villages.
Marriage traditions in Peru
This is one of the most important traditions in Peruvian wedding ceremonies. Ancestors are very important aspects of the culture and tradition in Peru, and elders are also always very respected. During the ceremony, an elder from either the bride’s family or that of the groom makes a speech to show regard for the ancestors. This can be likened to the "best man" speech in western marriage traditions. This speech includes advice to the couple on how to fulfill their obligations and fidelity to each other as married spouses, as well as prayers for abundant blessings and happiness.
This ceremonial rite is unique to the Peruvians. In this ritual, a sacrifice is made to Mother Earth, Pachamama, to represent balance and harmony in the couple's new era. Here, a woven fabric is placed on the ground, and various types of food and flowers are placed on top. It is also customary for all the various guests in the ceremony to place cocoa leaves on the sacrifice and say wishes and prayers for the couples in their marriage.
This tradition takes place during the actual wedding ceremony and is usually looked forward to by different guests as well as members of the wedding party. Here, two dolls are wrapped in cocoa leaves with a tree seed buried in the ground. These dolls are used to represent the bride and groom, and when they are buried, they flourish and grow to be big and bountiful, just as the lives of the newlyweds will also be filled with prosperity.
The Crazy Hour
This ceremonial rite is popularly referred to as the "crazy hour." It is usually held during the wedding reception. Once all the festivities are drawing to a conclusion toward the end of the night, the music suddenly gets louder and the lights go off for the real wedding race to begin. The wedding reception quickly transforms from a tranquil setting to a club atmosphere, with loud music blasting from the speakers. Guests are usually given stupid gadgets that light up, like glow sticks, face masks, wristbands, etc. This part of the wedding ceremony usually lasts hours, with people dancing and partying all night.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
Laws and Rights
In Peru, the legal age for marriage is 18 years. Marriages between underage spouses are prohibited under the law, and if any marriage takes place between two or one person below the age of 18, such a union is rendered invalid under the law. Under special circumstances, the marriage age may be lowered to 16 years, provided that there is parental or guardian consent as well as the approval of a judge. Marriage between two people who are related by blood or by close family relatives is strictly prohibited under the law. In Peru, children born within a marriage are naturally considered to be offspring and the direct responsibility of both the father and the mother. Any child born as a result of de facto or cohabitation relationships is considered to be under the rules of extra-marital filiation in Peru.
The rights of women and men in Peruvian marriages are the same. Both spouses have the same legal rights to become the legal guardians of their children. However, this law only holds when one of the spouses has not perpetrated any fault that might have resulted in divorce. If this is the case, the legal guardianship responsibility is automatically transferred to the affected spouse. Both spouses have the right and freedom to own properties as well as various assets and liabilities. A man and a woman in a marriage have equal rights to initiate and finalize a divorce. If the divorce is the result of mutual agreement between both spouses, their shared assets must be split equally between them.
The average cost of a Peruvian wedding largely depends on the number of guests that will be attending the ceremony. A guest list of about 70 people may cost up to $9,000 or more. Couples can decide what type of wedding ceremony they want to have. Some spouses may decide to go for a budget-friendly ceremony, while others may decide they want a big wedding ceremony that will cost several thousand dollars.
There are various aspects of the wedding ceremony that may add to the expenses. The whole process of registering the marriage in a civil ceremony is not expensive and is typically below $500, depending on the documents and procedures required at the couple’s municipality. Wedding ceremonies for 200 guests or more, ranging from religious to traditional, and everything in between, can cost up to $35,000 dollars. It all comes down to the couple's preferences.
There are certain duties and obligations that a married man and woman owe to each other in a marriage. In Peru, women and men are equal under the civil law, and both spouses can be the head of the family. It is expected for a man and woman to reach a mutual agreement on who will shoulder certain responsibilities and take care of the household. A man and a woman have the obligation of respecting, loving, and caring for each other as well as their children.
The children of a marriage are obligated to receive love and care from their parents, as well as all the basic necessities of life and a good education. Both women and men have the right to work in Peru, and the spouses have an obligation to reach a consensus on every aspect of their relationship and family at large. In a marriage, responsibilities can be shared equally, from bill payment to chasing, maintenance, and so on.
Peru has many beautiful destinations for marriage ceremonies. There are unique marriage traditions that are celebrated by couples getting married in the country. Since only civil marriages are legally binding in the country, traditional or religious marriages are often held afterward. Couples have the free will to choose where they want their traditional ceremony to be, and this largely depends on the financial buoyancy and desires of both partners. They may decide to have a small ceremony with just a few friends and family or a large-scale wedding ceremony with hundreds of guests in attendance.
Peru allows marriages between foreigners and nationals as long as both parties meet all of the marriage requirements. For a marriage to be legal in a country, one of the spouses must be a legal resident of that country. Also, both partners must be at least 18 years old, as this is the minimum age to marry in Peru, except in some cases where someone younger may be granted authorization to marry.
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