The requisites of a valid marriage in the Philippines are grouped into two – the essential and the formal.  Previously, we have provided an enumeration of the formal requisites of marriage on the Philippines.  We recapitulate these as follows:

  1. Authority of the solemnizing officer;
  2. A valid marriage license, except in certain circumstances; and
  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.

Similar to the essential requisites of marriage, an absence in any of the formal requisite shall render the marriage void ab initio.  However, an irregularity in any of the formal requisite would not affect the validity of the marriage but those responsible for the irregularity are subject to criminal, civil or administrative liabilities.

Authority of the solemnizing officer

The Family Code lists the people who are authorized to solemnize marriages as follows:

  1. Priests, rabbis and ministers of any church who had been duly authorized by their church or sect to administer marriages and who had been registered with the Office of the Civil Registrar General;
  2. Municipal and city mayors;
  3. Incumbent members of the judiciary;
  4. Ship captains or airplane chiefs (only in cases in articulo mortis);
  5. Commanders of military units (in the absence of a chaplain);
  6. Consul generals, consuls or vice-consuls

It is worthy to note that the marriage is still valid even if solemnized by a person not authorized to solemnize marriages, provided either of the parties had believed in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the authority to do so.

Valid marriage license

Generally, parties getting married are required to secure a marriage license.  However, there are instances when the law exempts couple from securing one.  Some of these include:

  1. If the marriage is one among Muslims or members of ethnic cultural communities, provided that the marriage shall be solemnized in accordance with their customs, rites and practices;
  2. If the marriage is solemnized in another country which does not require a license;
  3. If the contracting parties have cohabited exclusively and without legal impediment as husband and wife for at least five years prior to the date of marriage.

The marriage ceremony

The law does not have rules on how the marriage shall be celebrated, as long as the contracting parties personally appear before the solemnizing officer to make a declaration that they take each other as husband and wife, with at least two persons of legal age standing as witnesses to the ceremony.