Everything you need to know about marriage in Bulgaria

17 Apr 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Bulgaria 01

Bulgaria is a country in the Balkans known for its diverse terrain, which includes the Black Sea coastline as well as mountainous interiors and rivers. The country has a rich cultural heritage in music, dance, crafts, and costumes. Over 26,000 marriages are solemnized in Bulgaria each year by foreigners and Bulgarian nationals. Most of the marriage ceremonies are civil, religious, or traditional. However, only civil marriages are recognized and protected by law in the country. Arranged marriages, where the union is arranged by families or other intermediaries rather than by the individuals themselves, are not a common practice in contemporary Bulgaria. 

Bulgarian society is generally characterized by a Westernized, modern culture where individuals have the freedom to choose their own partners and marriages are typically based on personal preferences and mutual consent. In Bulgaria, the Family Code explicitly states that marriage must be based on the free and mutual consent of both parties. Forced marriages, including those arranged by families or other intermediaries, are considered illegal and are not recognized by Bulgarian law. 

Cultural and traditional practices are still quite popular in several regions of the country; however, these practices must comply with Bulgarian law and respect the rights and freedoms of the spouses involved. The legal age for marriage in Bulgaria is 18 years; however, there are certain exceptions allowed to this age. Spouses between the ages of 16 and 18 may be allowed to marry, provided they have gotten parental consent and permission from the regional court. Child marriages are uncommon in Bulgaria, with less than 1 percent of boys and girls getting married before the legal age in the country. The rest of the article will touch on the popular traditions as well as the laws in Bulgaria.

Civil Marriages 

Civil marriages are the most popular types of marriages performed in Bulgaria. This is largely because a civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is legally binding in Bulgaria and other parts of the world. This type of marriage is reformed by a government official such as a civil registrar or mayor at the municipality, mayor’s office, or regional court. The process of registering the marriage and obtaining a marriage certificate in Bulgaria can take a few weeks to several months. During this process, the bride and groom will be required to submit certain documents and show that they are entering the marriage as a result of their own free will and consent. 

In order to have a civil marriage in Bulgaria, both partners must meet the legal requirements, including being of legal age, having the mental capacity to understand the consequences of marriage and freely consent to it, and not being closely related by blood or adoption. As stated earlier in the introduction section of this article, the legal age for marriage in Bulgaria is 18 years, and marriage exceptions are only allowed for spouses who are two years younger. Foreigners must ensure all their documents are translated by an accredited translator into Bulgarian, the official language spoken in the country. All documents obtained abroad must include an apostille to prove their legitimacy. The documents that must be submitted during the registration process are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification, such as a national ID card or passport, must be provided by both spouses.
  • Both partners must provide copies of their government-issued birth certificates.
  • A certificate of no impediment to marriage must be provided.
  • Proof of legal residence must be provided by foreign spouses.
  • Proof of parental consent must be provided by spouses under the age of 18.
  • Both partners must provide at least two witnesses during the ceremony.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Previously married spouses must provide either of these documents to show they legally dissolved their previous unions and marriages.

Religious Marriages

Religious marriages in Bulgaria are predominantly conducted according to the Orthodox Christian tradition, as the majority of the population in the country identifies as Eastern Orthodox Christians. Nevertheless, religious marriages hold no legal status in the country, and spouses must perform a civil marriage for their union to be legally binding. In most cases, spouses register their marriage or conduct a civil ceremony before proceeding to get married in the church. Bulgarian Orthodox Christian weddings often incorporate traditional customs and symbols, such as the use of bread, salt, honey, and wine, which symbolize abundance, purity, sweetness, and joy, respectively. 

The crowns used in the crowning ceremony are often elaborately decorated with flowers and ribbons, and the couple may also participate in other traditional rituals, such as circling the altar, lighting candles, and receiving blessings from the priest. The couple typically selects godparents (Kum and Kuma), who play an important role in the ceremony. The godparents may participate in the crowning ceremony, hold the crowns over the couple's heads, and offer guidance and support to the couple throughout their married life.

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Marriage traditions in Bulgaria

Engagement ceremony

Engagement ceremonies are an important pre-wedding tradition in Bulgaria. In this ceremonial rite, the groom-to-be, accompanied by his close family members, visits the bride's home to ask for her hand in marriage. The groom's family presents gifts to the bride's family, which may include traditional Bulgarian items like bread, salt, honey, and wine, symbolizing prosperity, health, and happiness.

Wedding attire 

Traditional Bulgarian wedding attire varies depending on the region but typically includes colorful and intricately embroidered costumes. The bride may wear a white or colorful dress, and the groom may wear a traditional suit or an embroidered shirt. Traditional jewelry, such as silver coins, beads, and other ornaments, is often worn by the bride and groom as well.

Wedding feast

Bulgarian weddings are known for their festive and elaborate feasts. Traditional Bulgarian cuisine, such as banitsa (a type of pastry), kavarma (a meat dish), and kozunak (a sweet bread), is often served at the wedding reception. Traditional Bulgarian music, singing, and dancing, such as the horo (a Bulgarian circle dance), are also an important part of the wedding celebration.

Same-sex Marriages

Same-sex relationships are legal in Bulgaria for both genders; however, same-sex couples are not entitled to the same legal protections, rights, and benefits available to opposite-sex spouses in the country. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in Bulgaria. However, only single LGBT individuals are allowed to adopt and raise a child in Bulgaria.

Polygamous Marriages  

Polygamous marriages are illegal in Bulgaria, and a man is only allowed to be married to one woman at a time. Engaging in polygamy in Bulgaria can result in legal consequences, including civil and criminal penalties. Such consequences may include the invalidation of multiple marriages, the dissolution of subsequent marriages, and potential criminal charges for bigamy or other legal offenses.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

In Cuba, marriage is regulated by the Family Code, which was enacted in 1975 and has since undergone several amendments. The latest amendment was made in September 2022, and this amendment now allows marriage between two people of the same sex. According to the family code in Cuba, before anyone contracts marriage, he or she must meet the minimum age requirement for marriage, which is 18 years for both men and women. 

However, minors who are 16 or 17 years old may marry with the consent of their parents or legal guardians. In extreme cases, the consent of the court is required before marriage can take place. The law requires couples to be in Cuba at least three days before the chosen date for the ceremony. According to the law, the couple must give their free and full consent to marriage, and they must be in a sound state of mind to be able to contract marriage. In Cuba, there are two types of marriage: civil and religious. 

Couples are allowed to choose which form of marriage they wish to have; however, it is important to note that civil marriage is the only recognized legally binding form of marriage. Religious marriage has no legal effect but may be performed in addition to civil marriage. Marriage registration is compulsory for all couples in Cuba. All marriages must be registered with the civil registry office. The couple must provide proof of identity, age, and marital status. All couples are mandated by law to undergo a medical examination and submit a medical certificate indicating that they have undergone a premarital medical examination. 

In Cuba, marriage between Cubans and foreigners is allowed. As a foreigner, to get married in Cuba, at least one of the parties must be a Cuban citizen or have permanent residency in Cuba. The law mandates that both parties must be single, divorced, or widowed. They must not be in any legally constituted marriage. If one of the spouses has been married in the past, he or she is required to submit proof that the previous marriage is non-existent. Incestuous marriages, as well as marriages between adoptive parents and adopted children, are prohibited. According to the Cuban family code, polygamy is against the law.

Rights

Couples in Cuba have legal rights and protections under the Family Code, which outlines the rights and duties of spouses as well as the rights of children and other family members. In Cuba, both the husband and wife enjoy equality in marriage. Spouses have equal rights and responsibilities in marriage, regardless of gender. They are both entitled to participate in decisions related to the family, such as child rearing, household management, and financial matters. Couples have the right to own and manage property jointly as well as individually. 

In the event of divorce or separation, marital property is divided equally between the spouses, unless a prenuptial agreement has been signed. In the event of the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse has the right to the property, land, and other assets of the deceased spouse. Both spouses have equal rights and responsibilities in relation to their children, including the right to participate in decisions related to their care and upbringing. The Family Code prohibits domestic violence and provides legal protections for victims. 

This includes the right to obtain a protection order and the right to receive support and assistance from the state. Both the man and woman have the right to divorce if the marriage has broken down. Divorce may be granted by mutual consent or at the request of one of the parties, and both spouses have the right to initiate the process. After divorce or the death of a spouse, individuals have the right to remarry. However, there is a waiting period of 300 days before remarriage is allowed in cases where the woman was pregnant at the time of the divorce or death of the previous spouse.

Costs

The cost of getting married in Cuba can be relatively affordable compared to other countries, especially if couples opt for a simple civil ceremony. However, the total cost will depend on the couple's preferences and any additional services or expenses they choose to include. The cost of getting married in Cuba depends on a number of factors, such as the type of ceremony, the location, etc. Obtaining a marriage license in Cuba is relatively cheap, typically around 200 Cuban pesos (CUP), which is equivalent to around 8 US dollars (USD). 

The cost of a wedding ceremony in Cuba depends on the location and type of ceremony. Civil ceremonies are generally less expensive than religious ceremonies, and the cost can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the venue and any additional services. If couples choose to have a wedding reception or celebration, the cost of renting a venue can vary depending on the location and size of the space. Prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. 

Nevertheless, the cost of catering depends on whether the couple decides to provide food and drinks for the guests. The cost can vary depending on the number of guests and the type of food and drinks chosen. Prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. If the couple decides to hire a professional photographer or videographer to document the wedding, the cost can vary depending on the services provided and the length of time required. Prices can range from $500 to as much as $3000 or more.

Duties

Married couples have certain duties outlined in the Cuban Family Code. These duties are designed to promote mutual respect, support, and responsibility within the marriage. Couples who fail to fulfill their duties may face consequences. Spouses have a duty to provide mutual support to each other. This means that they should support each other emotionally, financially, and in other ways as needed. Couples have a duty to contribute to the management of the household. 

This includes tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare. Both spouses have a duty to participate in the care and upbringing of their children. This includes making decisions about their education, health, and other important matters. Spouses have a duty to remain faithful to each other. Unfaithfulness and adultery are not permitted under Cuban law and can be valid grounds for divorce. The husband and wife have a duty to refrain from using violence or coercion against each other. 

Domestic violence is prohibited under Cuban law, and victims have the right to seek protection and legal action against their abusers. Spouses are obligated to contribute to the financial well-being of the family. This includes contributing to household expenses and supporting each other in times of need. Couples have a responsibility to comply with the law and uphold their legal obligations.

Final Thoughts 

Bulgarian weddings are typically elaborate and festive affairs, with careful attention given to various customs, traditions, and rituals that are deeply rooted in the country's cultural heritage. From the engagement ceremony to the wedding ceremony, reception, and beyond, weddings in Bulgaria are often planned with meticulous detail and preparation. They are considered important social and cultural events.

Marriages between Bulgarian citizens and foreign nationals, or between two foreign nationals, are subject to the same legal requirements and procedures as marriages between Bulgarian citizens. However, additional documentation may be required, such as proof of legal residence in Bulgaria for foreign nationals, as stated earlier in the article. We hope you have learned everything you need to know about marriage in Bulgaria.

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