Everything you need to know about marriage in the Philippines

17 Mar 2023·19 min to read
Everything you need to know about marriage in the Philippines 01

Marriages in the Philippines are either civil marriages or traditional or religious marriage ceremonies. In the country, they are legally recognized and protected. In the Philippines, over 400,000 marriages are held annually. Since both religious and civil marriages are legally binding, most couples opt for a religious ceremony. Most Filipinos are Catholic Christians, and over half of all wedding ceremonies are officiated by an authorized priest in the church. The church ceremonies are usually followed by a wedding reception at a separate venue.

Polygamy is legal in the country under some special circumstances. This type of marriage is not open to everyone except Muslim Filipinos. According to Islam, a man is allowed to take up to four wives, provided he treats all of them as equals. However, each marriage must be duly registered and performed lawfully for the union to be recognized by law. Today, a lot of Muslim Filipinos do not even practice polygamy, and the tradition is slowly fading away as time keeps passing by. In the Philippines, civil marriage is the cheapest type of marriage that couples can have. 

Traditional marriages generally cost a lot more due to ceremonial rites, guests, and post-wedding customs such as the honeymoon. It is popular for couples to conduct a civil ceremony when they are planning to have a big party or an expensive honeymoon abroad. Some other couples may hold onto this marriage because of some financial constraints. The rest of this article will show you everything you need to know about getting married in the Philippines.

Civil marriage 

Civil marriages generally take less time than traditional or religious marriages. They also cost a lot less than other types of marriages in the country. This type of marriage is performed at the mayor’s office or the city hall courtroom. A civil marriage is officiated by a state-authorized officiant. It can be performed by a registrar or the mayor. The chosen location where the civil marriage will be held depends on where the couples have planned for the marriage to take place. Normally, the city hall chosen should be in the same district as the couple's residence.

For two partners to be legally married in a civil marriage, there are certain contents and requirements as regards to the paperwork or documents that must be submitted. The couple must provide legal evidence to show they are eligible to get married and are not prohibited in any form, either in the Philippines or a foreign country. To marry in the Philippines, the documents that are required are stated below:

Required Documents 

  • A government-issued birth certificate. This paperwork must include all the necessary information, such as the spouse’s full name, date and place of birth, and parents. Both nationals and foreigners are required to submit the PSA birth certificate.
  • A valid means of identification from both couples. This can be a Philippine national ID card or a current passport.
  • A certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR) This document must be provided by both spouses to show that they have either never been married before or are no longer in a relationship with a previous spouse. All previous marriages must be lawfully terminated before entering a new one.
  • A marriage license application form. This document must be obtained from the local civil registrar and duly filled in. The document can be claimed in person or with the use of a representative in the case of absence, usually one’s spouse or an authorized proxy. Four copies of the application form are needed to be distributed to the office of the civil registrar-general, the solemnizing office, the registrant, and the spouse.
  • Barangay Certificate. This is paperwork that gives evidence of the city or town where a person is living in the Philippines. Couples can make a request for this document from their local barangay hall.
  • A community tax certificate. This is referred to as the CTC or Cedula, which is issued after a community tax payment has been made to the city or barangay. Couples can obtain this paperwork from the local Philippine treasurer's office.
  • Certificate of Pre-Marriage Counseling Attendance If the spouses are ages 25 or below, they may be required to attend marriage counseling, family planning, and a responsible parenthood seminar. This seminar has to be attended in person by the spouses it applies to.
  • A 1x1 picture. This should be in a colored format and is required for easy identification purposes.

Conditions required for marriage

There are some conditions that must be met by both partners before a marriage is allowed to take place in the Philippines. These are stated below:

  • Both partners must have given their consent freely in the presence of a solemnizing officer.
  • Both partners must be of legal age to marry in the country. This shows that they must be of the minimum age to get married. A spouse of less than 21 years but more than 18 years is required to request parental or guardian consent before progressing with the marriage ceremony.
  • The marriage must be authorized by the appropriate solemnizing officer, such as a mayor, member of the judiciary, priest, rabbi, etc.

Religious marriage 

Christianity is the most dominant religion in the Philippines, with most Filipinos being Catholic. Religious marriages are also legally binding in the country, and couples may carry out this ceremony independently without having to conduct a civil ceremony.

For a Catholic Christian ceremony in the Philippines, both partners have to be Christians; however, the marriage ceremony can take place between two baptized orthodox Christians, two non-Catholic Christians that have been baptized, or when only one of them is Catholic. The marriage ceremony usually starts with a procession where the bride is walked down the aisle by her father.
It is customary for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to walk down the aisle with the groomsmen on the left side and the bridesmaids on the right side. The couples have the freedom to draw up their own personalized vows if they do not want to use the ones presented by the church. 

After the exchange of vows and professing of love between the couple, the priest usually asks the crowd if anyone objects to the marriage. As long as no one raises their hands to obstruct the holy matrimony, the man and woman are pronounced husband and wife. The church ceremony is usually held in the morning. It generally ends before noon so that the couples can proceed to the wedding reception.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the Philippines 02

Marriage traditions in the Philippines


In this ceremonial rite, both parents get to meet with each other to familiarize themselves with and discuss the marriage arrangements. Here, the groom goes to the bride's house with his family to officially request for her hand in marriage. The bride's family usually uses this engagement ceremony as a way of assessing the groom and his family to know if they are compatible. If both parties are satisfied, the groom and his family present various gifts to the brides' families.

Blessings from the parents

This is a tradition that was popular in ancient times and is still widely practiced today. Here, the bride and groom have to show respect to their respectful elders in their families. A ritual called the Mano is performed by the bride and groom, where the parents' hands are raised to their foreheads so they can say prayers for them and wish them well. In the modern Philippines, this rite is still done, but mostly with a handshake or kiss. The parents pray and bless the husband and wife's union in order for them to have a long-lasting marriage.

13 coins

This wedding ritual is popularly referred to as "Arras." As the name implies, the 13-coin tradition takes place when the groom offers the bride 13 different coins. There is a belief in the Philippines that the coins symbolize prosperity and the oath of love the couple has for each other. In the past, the 13 coins were usually given to the bride by the groom alone; modern marriages have altered this slightly. In marriages now, the bride passes the coins back to the groom. This is to signify that they both have a commitment to providing for each other in the new era they have just started.

Unity Candle

In this ceremonial rite, the couples are required to light a candle together. The two candles are called the "unity candles," which represent the two souls of the couples and their families joining together as one. The two candles are usually lit by the mothers of both couples. They can also be lit by a family member who has been chosen. The two candles are usually given to the couples, which are then blown out later during the ceremony.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the Philippines 03

Marriage Laws, Rights, Costs, and Duties

Laws and Rights

Marriage laws in the Philippines can be a little more complicated than in other countries. It is advisable to thoroughly go through all requirements and stipulations before tying the knot, as the death of one of the spouses is the only means through which a marriage can be nullified. Once marriage is proposed, both parties are expected to be of consenting age, which is 18 years of age or older. Spouses between the ages of 18 and 21 have to obtain parental consent. If it is found that any of the spouses were manipulated or coerced into getting married, the marriage can be declared void. You must provide your full names, addresses, or any identity document that contains all of this information. A community tax certificate, also known as the cedula, is a certificate of family planning from the ministry of health, along with copies of your birth certificates. Foreigners would need to provide their passports and a certificate of no impediment to the marriage. 

A marriage license would not be issued until the couples proved to the civil registrar that they had received advice about their marriage from their parents or legal guardians. Proof of receiving this advice and marriage counseling must be attached to the application form for the marriage license, or else the license won't be issued until after 3 months. Couples are required by law to wait for at least 10 days while the notice of marriage is posted at the civil registrar's office. A certificate of death or divorce must be submitted by the previously married party. Spouses are expected to present at least two witnesses who are of legal age to testify to the relationship. The ceremony must be conducted by an authorized official. Marriage by proxy is not accepted in the Philippines; both parties have to be present at the ceremony. Marriage between people with common ancestors is strictly prohibited by law.

According to the law, spouses have access to many unalienable rights in the Philippines. By the virtue of marriage, both parties have the right to decide to live together or separately; there's no compulsion under the law to live together except to support one another. Couples have the right to procreate and raise children according to their own beliefs. When two people marry, they acquire the right to claim each other's property, which is known as conjugal property. They both have the right to equal work opportunities, and both parties can participate in any business activity without the consent of the other. If a prenuptial agreement was signed prior to marriage, couples have the right to separate assets.


Marriage in the Philippines is not for the faint of heart; it is not cheap, and it will take considerable planning to achieve the ideal budget for your wedding. Over the years, the Philippines has become one of the most well-known destinations for destination weddings, which has greatly aided the growth of the wedding industry. Weddings in general are always a big deal, but weddings in the Philippines are an even bigger deal. Couples spend a lot to make their wedding very memorable, and this might result in having to borrow money or spending all of one's savings.

The amount of money to be spent on your wedding depends on the size and number of guests you intend to cater to, as well as how much you'd be willing to put into it. Weddings in the Philippines cost from as low as 30,000 pesos to millions of pesos, depending on what you're aiming for. The average cost of getting married traditionally in the Philippines with a guest list of about 150 people is estimated to be around Php 247,750 to Php 975,000. The wedding location, dress, catering, entertainment, and all other miscellaneous expenses should be properly planned for. 

However, it is in your best interest to cut your coat according to the material you have because starting off your married life with debt is not advisable. The size of the wedding you dream to have should be dependent on your financial capability and not on the opinions of others.


According to the family code in the Philippines, the husband and wife have certain duties and obligations that they both need to fulfill. The husband and wife are obligated to show mutual love and respect as well as render support to one another. They both have a duty to decide on the place of residence of the family as well as be jointly responsible for the expenses and total well-being of the family. The management of the household is the joint responsibility of the husband and wife. They both have a duty to contribute to the wellbeing and development of their children by providing adequate education and a conducive environment for their growth. Couples are obligated to protect and provide security for the family.


Marriages in the Philippines are mostly civil or religious. However, most marriages are based on the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Over half of the total population of Filipinos are Christians. Over the years, couples have adopted some of the customs and traditions of the western world. The minimum legal age to get married in the country is similar to that of most countries in the world. However, at the age of 18, parental or guardian consent must be provided to get married. Only a person aged 21 and above is allowed to get married without parental consent. Muslim couples in the country are allowed to practice polygamy. A man can take up to four wives as he pleases; however, polyandry is prohibited. A woman may only be married to one man at a time.

All conditions of marriage must be met by couples before they are allowed to get married. The Philippines does not have very strict laws; however, the ones provided must be followed and respected by both foreigners and nationals. The documents required from Filipinos and foreign spouses are quite similar, and everything must be duly submitted to obtain a marriage certificate before the ceremony is concluded. Same-sex marriages are illegal in the country. Two people of the same sex cannot be lawfully married together. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in the Philippines.