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The Marriage Ceremony

Understand what's involved in the marriage ceremony and the types of wedding which can take place in Belgium...

The marriage will take place in the municipality where one or both parties were resident at the time that the marriage was announced. A declaration of marriage is posted on the door of the Town Hall. The marriage ceremony will take place a minimum of fourteen days after the declaration of marriage.

Officers at Embassies and Consulates do not have the authority to perform marriages for their own nationals.

Belgian law only recognises the validity of a civil ceremony for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. A couple may choose to follow the civil service with a religious ceremony if they wish but it will have no legal significance. Some religious establishments only permit marriage ceremonies between heterosexual couples. The only authority with the power to celebrate a legal marriage is the office of the state via the local municipality (Officier de l'Etat Civil/Ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke Stand).

Civil marriages take place at the Town Hall in the presence of two witnesses. At certain times and on certain days no charge is made for this service. On completion of the civil ceremony the marriage is recorded in the register of civil status at the town hall and the newly-weds are issued with a marriage booklet. This acts as the legal proof of their status as a married couple.

Non-Belgians marrying a Belgian citizen do not automatically become Belgian nationals themselves, although they can apply for Belgian nationality following the marriage.

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