From the inception of the Family Code in August 1988, the requisites of a valid marriage in the Philippines had been divided into two major classifications: the Essential and the Formal.

The essential requisites include:

  1. Legal capacity of the contracting parties, who must be male and female; and
  2. Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.

On the other hand, the formal requisites are:

  1. Authority of the solemnizing officer;
  2. A valid marriage license except in the certain circumstances;
  3. A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites make the marriage void ab initio.  However, the distinction between the classifications become material in case there are defects or irregularities in the requisites.

Defects apply to the essential requisites of marriage, while irregularities pertain to the formal requisites.  Any defect in the essential requisites render the marriage voidable or valid until annulled.  An irregularity in any of the formal requisites does not affect the validity of the marriage.  However, the party responsible for such irregularity will be subject to criminal, civil or administrative liability.