Moving your wedding online can be a practical choice especially during this time of pandemic. It actually solves a lot of your concerns like having to stay indoors, not having any guests, and having to wear protective gear all throughout the ceremony. With the wonders of technology now, your best friend who lives in another country can actually witness you say “I do” virtually! But though convenient, there are some legal aspects that come into play if you’re considering an online wedding.
You know it in your heart that your partner is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. So, you quickly set up a virtual wedding for all your friends and family around the world to witness. Can you do so? Definitely! Especially if a spiritual ceremony is important to you. But the question is, is it legally binding? The answer is no.
We consulted a lawyer, Atty. Regine Tumlos, to weigh in on this topic. She says:
“The contract of marriage is only entered into by complying with all the requirements and formalities prescribed by law.
For a wedding to be valid, both parties, who must be male and female, should be legally capacitated and must freely give their consent in the presence of a solemnizing officer. These are the essential requisites of a marriage.
The formal requisites of a marriage, on the other hand, are: (1) Authority of the solemnizing officer; (2) A valid marriage license unless it falls under certain exceptions; 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.
The Family Code also provides that a marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of the Family Code, or where both of the parties request the solemnizing officer in writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.”
In summary, for a marriage to be legally valid under “The Family Code of The Philippines”, all parties should be physically present in the same location. The internet itself is not a physical place or a legal entity which makes virtual weddings non-binding.
We’ve been seeing a number of virtual weddings and they are indeed heartwarming! Especially during this time of uncertainty, any display of love and hope is very much celebrated by everyone. The persistence to get married in itself is a beautiful thing to witness! Though these online spiritual ceremonies are not legally binding, if it gives you and your partner a sense of peace during this time, then go ahead and send that online meeting room number to all of your guests!
Next Steps to Take
When the time comes that all weddings can safely be held inside churches or city halls again, you can work your way through planning your actual wedding, whether civil or religious. The requirements for a civil wedding differs from that of the requirements for a Catholic wedding. Talk to your wedding coordinators so they can help you navigate through wedding planning during this time. While you’re at it, remember to relax and take one step at a time. Your wedding will happen no matter what!