Everything you need to know about marriage in Guam

19 Jul 2023·19 min to read
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Guam is a U.S. island country in Micronesia. The territory is well-known for being Micronesia's largest and southernmost island, where thousands of marriages are performed each year. The territory is a popular spot for destination weddings for spouses from countries around the world, with vibrant coral reefs, lots of entertainment options, and stunning beaches. The most popular types of weddings in the country include religious and civil weddings. However, it is possible for spouses to perform other types of marriages based on their personal preferences in a symbolic wedding or according to the traditions of their region or community. 

In ancient times, marriages in Guam used to be arranged between families. Traditionally, women were not allowed to marry outside their clan in Guam. When a woman or man became of age, it was the duty of their parents to find suitable brides and grooms for them in the same clan. There were many situations where close families promised their children to each other in marriage at the time of birth. This was a popular way of strengthening the bond between families in the same clan. Things have changed in modern times; spouses who want to get married are responsible for choosing their partner, and the majority of the financial responsibilities pre-wedding fall on the shoulders of the groom. 

Furthermore, parental consent is not taken lightly in Guam. Before both spouses proceed to schedule a date for the marriage and make other arrangements, they often visit their respective parents to make their marriage intentions known and receive their blessings. These are all traditions that are not required in civil marriages. Even though they are not necessary, they are still being performed to this day as a way of preserving the family culture on Guam. The rest of the article will help you learn more about marriage customs and traditions in Guam.

Civil marriages 

In Guam, civil marriages are performed in the civil registry by a marriage officer. This type of marriage is legally binding in Guam and other countries and territories around the world. There are different people who have the authority to perform a civil marriage in Guam that is recognized under the laws of the country. Marriage officers in Guam include judges and justices, the governor or lieutenant governor of Guam, the speaker or his designee, such as senators, or the director of administration. Both spouses who want to get married in Guam must provide evidence that they are single and eligible for marriage in the country. 

They must be in good legal standing with the government of Guam. Both applicants are required to visit the Department of Public Health Office of Vital Statistics in Mangilao or the Department of Revenue and Taxation’s General Licensing Division in Tiyan to pay the required fees and submit all accompanying documents. After this is done, the spouses are required to request a marriage application form. There are certain instructions that are printed on the form or stated by the registrar. These instructions must be followed by the partners. Both the bride and groom are required to fill out the application form and stamp it as the first step in their process of obtaining a marriage license in Guam. 

The attending marriage officer will receive the form from both spouses once it has been filled correctly, and there will also be an additional payment of an application fee. The marriage officer is charged with the responsibility of verifying all the submitted documents and ensuring they are all true and legitimate. During this process, the registrar may contact the concerned authorities of the spouses, especially if they are from foreign countries. After the verification of all the documents, if everything is fine and accurate, the couple will be able to obtain their marriage license after a period of 5 business days. 

It is possible for the marriage license waiting period to be avoided. To waive the required period for processing the marriage license in Guam, spouses are required to show an affidavit of "good cause shown." This paperwork must be completed and filed with the Office of Vital Statistics. The process also attracts a non-refundable fee of $50 after it has been approved. There must be stage-approved authority from anybody solemnizing the marriage, and they are required to have a marriage license that they sign before the ceremony. 

Upon the completion of the marriage ceremony, the marriage certificate must be taken to the Office of Vital Statistics in the Department of Public Health and Social Services within a period of 10 working days. Here, the couple will be able to obtain a certified copy of their marriage certificate the same day (usually within a few minutes). This also includes a non-refundable marriage certificate fee that must be paid by the couple. To get married in Guam, the documents required are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • Both spouses are required to provide original copies of their national identity card or valid passport.
  • Male and female spouses must provide certified copies of their birth certificates.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Spouses who are separated or widowed are required to provide either of these documents as proof of their dissolution of the previous marriage.
  • Foreign spouses are required to provide a notarized marriage license affidavit to get married in Guam.
  • Both partners are required to provide two legal witnesses.
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Religious and traditional marriages

Religious marriages are performed by the minister of the religion in the couple's place of worship. Guam is a diverse country with various ethnic groups and religions. The country is dominated by Christians, with the dominant denomination being the Roman Catholic Church. Church weddings often include several ceremonial rites that will be performed in the church by the spouses. The couple is required to make an official announcement of their marriage in the presence of the priest or other church members. 

Spouses are often advised to ensure they begin their church wedding preparations several weeks or months before the wedding day. This is because there are mandatory requirements that must be met by couples before they are allowed to marry in the church, and if any of the conditions are violated, the priest has the authority to either postpone or conceal the marriage. Chamorros who are not baptized are not allowed to perform a wedding ceremony in the church. The priest may also conduct additional interviews before a date for the marriage in the church is fixed.

Marriage traditions in Guam


This is a pre-wedding ceremony that is performed by the bride and her family members. In this tradition, the elders of the family as well as the godparents of the bride are invited to this special ceremony as a way of celebrating the bride as she is about to enter marriage and join a new family.

Exchange of vows and rings

During church weddings in Guam, the bride and groom exchange vows and rings. In the vows, they express how much they mean to each other and make beautiful promises. The bride and groom then exchange rings on each other’s fingers before they are pronounced husband and wife by the priest or pastor. This is usually met with a lot of cheering from the congregation.

Seven-course feasts

Traditionally, wedding celebrations in Guam are often big events that involve a lot of foods and drinks throughout the course of the ceremony. There is often a seven-course meal where various types of traditional dishes are served to leave the table of guests filled with a wide variety of foods and drinks as the event progresses. This tradition used to be very popular in ancient times; however, it is still performed at some weddings in the country.

Same-sex marriages 

Marriage between male or female spouses of the same sex is legally recognized and protected in Guam. Same-sex marriages became legal in 2015, and Guam became the first overseas territory of the United States to legalize same-sex marriages. Same-sex couples are allowed to head households and enjoy most of the rights and benefits available to opposite-sex marriages in Guam.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in Guam. According to the constitution, marriage is a union between a single man and a single woman. Polygyny is prohibited in the country. A man who is previously married must terminate such marriage before contracting a new one in Guam. This also applies to women, and polygamy may result in legal challenges such as imprisonment and the payment of fines.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties


The laws of marriage in Guam grant legal status to all marriages, provided these laws are obeyed by couples. In Guam, same-sex marriages are allowed, recognized, and protected by the law of the country. Not only are same-sex couples allowed to carry out homosexual activities, they are also permitted to contract marriage. The law states that before marriage can take place, the husband and wife must have an understanding of the institution of marriage, and to be able to comprehend what marriage is all about, they have to be in a stable state of mind. The husband and wife have to be mentally sound and stable to be able to contract marriage; only then would their consent to marriage be regarded as valid. 

Besides this, the couple must give free and voluntary consent to marriage and must not be put under any form of stress or be subjected to threats or violence before they give consent to marriage. Civil and religious marriages are legally binding in the country, and civil marriages must be performed at the civil marriage registry by a licensed marriage celebrant, while religious marriages must also be performed by an authorized priest or minister of the couple's various religious institutions. The law also states that the husband and wife must be single at the time of marriage; the couple can either be unmarried, widowed, or divorced. If either of the spouses has been married in the past and the marriage ended as a result of divorce or the death of one of the spouses, the law requires such a person to submit a certificate of death for the deceased spouse or a certificate of divorce where it applies. 

Foreigners may marry in Guam if they are legally able to marry in their home country. Couples must obtain a marriage license before they are permitted to get married in Guam, and the marriage license issued in Guam is only recognized in Guam; however, the marriage certificate obtained in Guam is globally recognized. The legal age for marriage in this territory is set at 18 years for both males and females; exceptions are made for minors who are aged 16–17 years, provided they can obtain parental permission or, in the absence of either, the consent of a legal guardian. Polygamous marriages are not allowed in the country; a man and woman are only allowed to marry one partner at a time.


The rights of couples in Guam are embedded in and protected by the law of the country. Under the law, all citizens are recognized to be equal, and this encompasses the institution of marriage as well. Couples on Guam are free to practice any religion and religious beliefs they choose. They also have the right to be involved in any form of economic activity outside the confines of the home. Couples have the right to be actively involved in politics and government by exercising their civil rights to vote and be voted for. 

They both have the right to participate in any social activities that do not pose any harm to the family. Just as the husband has the right to confer his nationality on the children and his foreign spouse, the wife also possesses this right to do the same. The couple has the right to file for and finalize divorce, and the law asks for the same requirements from both spouses to finalize divorce. After divorce has been finalized, the couple has the right to receive custody of the children, but before this right is granted to either of the spouses, the interests of the children are put into consideration. 

The husband and wife also have the right to work and receive payment for work done; they have the right to fair treatment at their place of employment, and there must not be any form of discrimination at the workplace due to their marital status. Couples have the right to own property either individually or jointly, depending on the marital regime of property agreed upon at the time of marriage. They are also permitted to sign a prenuptial or nuptial agreement, which protects their properties in the event of divorce.


There are various fees that couples are required to pay in Guam to be able to contract a civil marriage. To obtain a marriage license, couples have to pay $30 to the civil registry and wait for a period of 5 days before the license is issued. If the couple wants to obtain their license faster, they must pay an additional $50 fee. 

Excluding the cost of a civil wedding in Guam, the average cost of a wedding ceremony in this territory is estimated to be around $600-$3,000 depending on the number of invited guests, the size of the wedding, and how much the couple has to spend on the ceremony. Guam is becoming one of the more popular locations for a destination wedding, and the total cost of marriage in the country, including flight fees, should not exceed $10,000.


Couples in Guam are not only obligated to carry out their various responsibilities in the home out of a sense of duty; they are required by law to carry out these responsibilities, as a failure to do so could lead to the breakdown of the family. The husband and wife have a duty to ensure that the needs of the family are met at all times and according to the means of the couple. 

They are obligated to contribute jointly to the welfare and wellbeing of the family. The emotional and physical needs of the couple as well as those of other members of the family should be met by the husband and wife. They have various parental duties in regards to the children in the home. The husband and wife are responsible for providing a good and proper educational and moral background for the children. They are obligated to take care of the children and provide a conducive environment for their growth and development. The husband and wife are both responsible for the protection of the family. They are both obligated to respect each other, be committed to the marriage, and also respect each other's family.


Guam has various beautiful locations that are great for destination weddings. The country has rich and unique customs and traditions that make wedding ceremonies a memorable experience for spouses and other family members and friends. Weddings in Guam usually include a lot of ceremonial rites performed by different members of the wedding train.

Guam does not allow multiple people to get married at the same time. Marriage can only be between two single partners. Same-sex couples are also allowed to get married in the country and enjoy most of the marriage rights and benefits available to opposite-sex couples. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Guam.