3 Types of Marriages You Should Know For Planning Your Wedding!

3 Types of Marriages Feature photo by White House Wedding Photography

The subject of “types of marriages” can be really confusing, mainly because of how marriage types are defined worldwide. For example, there are cultural marriages, religious marriages, same-sex marriages, etc. Also, types of marriages are often used interchangeably with types of weddings.

In this post, I will be addressing 3 types of marriages as they pertain to marriage in the United States and, more specifically, Florida. But before we jump off into the deep end, let’s get a clear understanding of the definition of marriages in the US.

Definition of Marriages in The United States of America

Around the world, marriage is defined differently based on cultures, laws, and religion. Nevertheless, the definition of marriage here in the united states is straightforward. Here in the USA, marriage is defined as a legal union of two people.

In the United States, for marriage to be legal, certain basic requirements must be met. Here are some of the basic requirements:

    1. The marriage must be entered into freely by both individuals – force marriage is not recognized as a legal union.
    2. The couple getting married must be of legal age – the legal age in Florida is 18 and 16 with parental consent.
    3. A marriage license and certificate are a must to legitimize the union.
    4. The couple must have sound mental capacity, and they can’t be blood relatives.

Now bear in mind that marriage requirement varies from State to State. Therefore, it would be prudent of you to get familiar with the state’s requirements in which you will get married. Your wedding officiant can be a good source of information on what you will need. So, don’t wait till the last minute to have a conversation with an officiant.

With the definition of marriage out of the way, let’s get back to the types of marriages that really matters.

What Types of Marriages Are There?

Let’s not mistake types of marriage with types of wedding. Types of wedding refer more to how you plan on celebrating your marriage. For example, types of weddings could be rustic, beach wedding, ballroom, destination, etc. The types of marriages that I will be covering are civil, religion, and common law.

Civil Marriage

Ok! Civil marriage can sound confusing to brides. However, before you start planning your dream wedding, you will want to know just what is a civil marriage. According to many web resources, civil marriage is a non-religious legal union between two individuals and must be presided over by a legal official instead of a religious official.

This is how my good friend Mario Ibanez, officiant and owner of Tie The Knot Miami, explains it:
Technically all marriages are civil since they are not valid unless a marriage license is obtained from a Clerk of the Court. The only requisite is that the license must be officialized by an officer of the court, a state-appointed Notary Public, or a member of the clergy ( ordained minister, priests, pastors, etc.) Some religions do not allow their priests to perform weddings outside of the church.

Given Mario’s explanation of civil marriage, one can conclude that the notion that civil marriage is none religious is total nonsense. All legal marriages are civil. So let’s put this one to rest!

Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage has been around since the 1800s and is still recognized by a few States. Basically, common law marriage is a legal concept of couples who live together and portray their relationship to the public as a married couple. The couple would practice all the lawful functions of civil marriage, such as filing tax jointly and using the same last names without a marriage license and certificate.

You know the cliche if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck? This cliche could be used to qualify a common law marriage. Nevertheless, the States that still recognized common law marriages all have their own requirements. Many civil marriage requirements, such as legal age, sound mind, and consent, apply to common law marriage. One thing for sure, there are no common law marriage licenses and certificates.

Common law marriage validity usually comes under legal scrutiny when one of the couples decides to end the relationship and sell assets or when one of the couples past away. Imagine living together as a couple for some time and investing lots of money and time into your relationship. How would you ensure that you don’t lose everything if the relationship ends?

Why Choose Common Law Over Civil Marriage?

Suppose one of the couples decided to end the relationship or past way. In that case, there are some expectations that the couple’s assets would be divided up equally or pass on to the other. But without a civil marriage, there are no legal options for the couple that would allow this to happen. This is where common law marriage comes into effect and ensures that both couples are treated fairly according to the laws.

One last thing, before wrapping up common law marriage. Common law marriages that occurred before abolishing the practice are still valid in some States. In Florida, common law marriages entered into before January 1, 1968, are still valid.

Religious Marriage

When defining a religious marriage, I think many people just simply get it wrong. They often time define religious marriage as getting married in the eyes of God, whereas civil marriage is getting married in the eyes of the law. Defining religious marriage in this way gives the impression that couples can’t have a legal, religious marriage.

As my good friend Mario stated above, all marriages are civil as long as they have a marriage license issued by the courts and officialized and filed with the courts. Therefore a civil marriage can be a religious marriage.

A better definition of religious marriages is a union conducted under a chosen religious practice with all the legality of civil marriage—for example, catholic weddings, Christian weddings, etc.

The opposite of religious marriage would be a secular marriage. Secular marriages are performed without any religious practice. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what type of wedding ceremony you have. What really matters is that you have a legal wedding, and if your wedding is legal, it will be a civil marriage.

Have questions? Let’s connect here.

If you like this post, you may also be interested in these other posts:

Wedding Vocabulary | An A to Z of Wedding Word Association

5 Reasons to Hire a Professional Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photo Copyright vs. Print Right | Do You Know the Difference?

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