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Old 06-27-2010, 08:42 PM
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civil marriage first then church wedding later

I was reading about various royal families and thought it was rather interesting that some of these individuals first had a civil ceremony (marriage) then a couple of months later had a church or religious ceremony. In a few cases couples had a civil marriage but didn't have a church wedding until a couple of years later. Still others have a church wedding. Was it a conflict of religion or some other issue the reason why a civil ceremony was performed and then the church wedding later?

My next question is let's say a couple had the civil cermony and the Princess or royal became pregnant within a couple of months after the marriage. Because a church wedding was not performed and because a church wedding usually can't be done quickly, what would be the status be of the child. The child would not be considered out of wedlock by that state or country because a civil ceremony was performed. If this person was an heir to the throne, it might cause a problem especially if someone came in and said that because the parents were not married in a religious ceremony when the heir was born, then he or she is not eligible to be the heir apparent.
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by nascarlucy View Post
I was reading about various royal families and thought it was rather interesting that some of these individuals first had a civil ceremony (marriage) then a couple of months later had a church or religious ceremony. In a few cases couples had a civil marriage but didn't have a church wedding until a couple of years later. Still others have a church wedding. Was it a conflict of religion or some other issue the reason why a civil ceremony was performed and then the church wedding later?

In many countries, a religious wedding ceremony does not make the union legally recognized. To those countries, a marriage is a state matter and must be recognized by the government in order for any benefits to be collected. If later on the couple wishes to have their local clergy bless their marriage in a religious ceremony, they can. If they never have a civil wedding, the law does not recognize them as married. In the United States, it's different. You can either get married civilly (judge, justice of the peace) or religiously. Either way, as long as you've filed your marriage license with the county you intend to marry in at least 30 days prior to the wedding, it's all legally binding.


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My next question is let's say a couple had the civil cermony and the Princess or royal became pregnant within a couple of months after the marriage. Because a church wedding was not performed and because a church wedding usually can't be done quickly, what would be the status be of the child. The child would not be considered out of wedlock by that state or country because a civil ceremony was performed. If this person was an heir to the throne, it might cause a problem especially if someone came in and said that because the parents were not married in a religious ceremony when the heir was born, then he or she is not eligible to be the heir apparent.

As long as the couple was legally married in the eyes of the state, I don't believe the legitimacy of the child would come into question. Someone else with better knowledge of this might know better, so they can fill in any gaps.
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:43 PM
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I'm not an expert, but my sister's friend lived in Germany and married her husband in a civil ceremony, which was required. After that, whatever wedding they wanted was merely a matter of frivolity.
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:04 AM
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In some countries (i.e. Germany, Belgium, France) what really counts is the civil marriage, since the religious marriage doesn't have any legal effects.

In other countries (i.e. Italy) one can choose whether to marry only in a civil marriage, or only in a religious marriage (that can be recognized as legally valid) or in a civil ceremony followed by a religious ceremony.

Usually a child is legitimated if he was born or conceived in the period when his parents were married at the eyes of the law (after the civil ceremony, before the death of one of the spouses or before the divorce or the anulement of the marriage), or if he was born soon after the death of the father (in Italy if the child was born within 300 days after the death of the father).

I know only one case where the religious marriage had some importance, and it happened in 2001 at the death of the Jaime, 10th Duke of Cadaval: he left four daughters, two from his first (only civil) marriage, and two from his second (civil and blessed by Catholic Church) marriage; and the Duke of Bragança (Head of the Portuguese Royal Family and claimant to the Throne of Portugal) recognized Jaime's third (and eldest from the second marriage) daughter, Diana, as Duchess of Cadaval instead of his firstborn daughter Rosalinda because Rosalinda wasn't born from a religious marriage.
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Old 06-28-2010, 05:41 PM
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To Manfan: Thank you for the information.
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:05 PM
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I think in Belgium, in the church the priest asks for the legal documents proving the civil marriage has really taken place before performing the religious ceremony
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:17 PM
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In Canada, religious ceremonies are recognized as legal; however, the clergy is essentially an agent of state when she or he officiates over the ceremony. They must have authorization from the province in order to be able to perform weddings that will be legally recognized.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:49 AM
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I think in Belgium, in the church the priest asks for the legal documents proving the civil marriage has really taken place before performing the religious ceremony
If I don't mistake, in 1941 some controversies arose because King Leopold III married to the Princess of Rethy firstly in a religious ceremony and following in the civil ceremony, and this was against the Belgian Law. Btw, nobody contested the legal validity of this marriage.
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:13 AM
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In Canada, religious ceremonies are recognized as legal; however, the clergy is essentially an agent of state when she or he officiates over the ceremony. They must have authorization from the province in order to be able to perform weddings that will be legally recognized.

Same for the United States. In order to have a religious wedding, the person officiating must be able to perform weddings. They also have to verify that the two people getting married are legally able to, and that all their paperwork is in order.
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:27 AM
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I'm an ordained minister in the Church of England, and we are not just officiants, but also Registrars. In the vestry, once the clergyperson, the couple and the witnesses have signed the Marriage Certificate, the marriage is valid from that moment. No need for a civil ceremony !!

An almost identical procedure exists in the Church in Wales - but NOT in the Church of Scotland.

We get checked out by the (municipal) chief registrar occasionally; I was ticked off by one of these guys for not using the right kind of registrars' ink !!
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:27 AM
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Same for the United States. In order to have a religious wedding, the person officiating must be able to perform weddings. They also have to verify that the two people getting married are legally able to, and that all their paperwork is in order.
Same in Sweden. Although the Churches refusal to do same sex marriages got us fairly close to change that until The Church of Sweden did what they do best, caved in
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