Everything you need to know about marriage in Cuba

15 Apr 2023·18 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Cuba 01

Over 40,000 marriages are performed yearly in Cuba, a country in the Caribbean. Cuba is an island country popular for its rich arts and entertainment culture. The process of getting married in Cuba is straightforward, and both foreigners and Cubans are allowed to solemnize their union in the country. Marriage in Cuba is viewed as a symbol of stability, commitment, and responsibility. It is a time when couples declare their love and devotion to each other and make a public commitment to building a life together. In Cuban culture, the union between spouses is an important social institution that helps to create strong family ties and promote the well-being of the community as a whole. 

Weddings in Cuba are often elaborate affairs that involve extended families, friends, and the community at large. During wedding ceremonies, the couples, their families, and friends express their personal style and creativity, often incorporating traditional Cuban elements into the celebration. Although couples are allowed to perform different types of marriages in Cuba, only civil marriages are legally binding. The legal marriage age in Cuba is 18 years old for both spouses; however, there are cases of child marriages where spouses as young as 13 are married off by their families. As you read on, you will find out more about the marriage laws and rights in Cuba. Let’s continue. 

Civil Marriages 

A civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is recognized and protected by law. This type of marriage is performed by a state-authorized government official (the civil registrar) at the civil registry. Couples who wish to get married in Cuba must visit the registry office in the district or municipality where they reside to fill out the marriage registration form. Both parties getting married must be at least 18 years old and not closely related by blood or marriage. They must also have the mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of marriage and provide their free and informed consent. 

Prior to the marriage ceremony, both parties must obtain a marriage license from the Civil Registry Office, which requires presenting identification documents, such as passports or identity cards, and other relevant documents, such as birth certificates. The civil ceremony usually involves the exchange of vows and signing of the marriage certificate in the presence of the provided witnesses. All documents submitted must be in Spanish; therefore, foreign spouses will be required to have their documents translated into other foreign languages by an accredited translator before the marriage ceremony.

Civil marriage in Cuba provides various legal rights and responsibilities to the married couple. These may include inheritance rights, property rights, tax benefits, social security benefits, and the ability to make decisions on behalf of each other in legal and medical matters. Furthermore, it also imposes certain legal obligations, such as financial support, fidelity, and mutual assistance between the spouses. During the marriage registration, the documents that must be submitted by both partners are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid copy of your national identity card or passport
  • Both partners must provide certified copies of their birth certificates.
  • Affidavit of single status and freedom to marry in Cuba This document must be provided by all foreign nationals to show they are not in a current or past marriage or union with another partner.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Spouses who were previously married must submit either of these documents to show they legally terminated previous marriages.
  • Payment of all relevant fees

Religious and traditional marriages

Religious and traditional marriages are not legally binding in Cuba. Almost half of the total population of Cuba is irreligious, while a larger percentage of the rest of the population are Catholic Christians. Catholic weddings in Cuba are typically held in a church and are presided over by a priest. The ceremony often includes various liturgical elements, such as readings from the Bible, prayers, and blessings. Traditional marriage practices in Cuba are influenced by both Catholicism and Afro-Cuban traditions. 

In the Catholic tradition, marriage is considered a sacrament, and many Cubans choose to have a Catholic wedding ceremony. After the wedding ceremony is concluded, the spouses will be required to register their marriage in the registry so that it can be legally recognized. However, couples are also allowed to register their marriage before the church ceremony.

In Afro-Cuban traditions such as Santeria, marriage ceremonies may incorporate elements of their unique religious practices. For example, in Santeria, a couple may choose to have a ceremony that involves offerings to deities, divination rituals, and other African-inspired customs.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Cuba 02

Marriage traditions in Cuba

Engagement Ceremony

The engagement period in Cuba is usually shorter compared to some other cultures. Once a couple decides to get married, they often exchange engagement rings and start planning the wedding right away. During this planning phase, it is customary for the groom's family to present various gift items to the family of his wife-to-be.

Wedding Procession

The wedding procession in Cuban weddings often involves a flashy gathering of the families and friends of the bride and groom. It is common for the bride and groom to arrive at the ceremony venue in separate cars or on horse-drawn carriages. The couple is often accompanied by a procession of family and friends, who may dance, sing, or play musical instruments along the way.

Money Dance 

A popular tradition in Cuban weddings is the "Money Dance" or "Dollar Dance," where guests pin money to the bride's dress or put money in a bag held by the groom. This is done to help the newlyweds start their life together and is often accompanied by lively music and dancing. It also symbolizes riches and wealth in the new era of the couple.

Same-sex Marriages 

Same-sex marriages and unions have been legal in the Cubs since September 2022. Spouses of the same sex are allowed to perform legal marriages in the country and enjoy all the marriage rights and benefits provided to spouses of the opposite sex. There are also protection laws in place to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation in Cuba.

Polygamy in Cuba

The law recognizes only one legal spouse at a time, and entering into multiple marriages simultaneously is not allowed in Cuba. If the law against polygamous marriages is violated, the subsequent marriages beyond the first one are considered void and without legal effect. There are no high rates of polygamy in Cuba, and there are only a few cases in rural areas where multiple partners are in informal relationships.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Cuba 03

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. 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.

In Summary 

Cuba is a sought-after destination for couples from all around the world who choose to have their wedding there each year. The country's unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and vibrant atmosphere make it a popular choice for a destination wedding.

The Caribbean country is renowned for its beautiful beaches, with powdery white sand and turquoise waters. Varadero, located on the Hicacos Peninsula, is one of the most famous beach destinations in Cuba and offers a breathtaking setting for a beach wedding. Other popular wedding destinations in Cuba include Havana and Cayo Coco. We hope this article has provided you with everything you need to know about marriage in Cuba.

Related