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Tying the Knot: Strange Global Wedding Laws

Getting married is a big milestone in a person’s life. Whether you’re the groom waiting at the altar or the bride walking down the aisle, it’s a moment you’re going to remember for the rest of your life.

The research found that in 2017 the average cost of a wedding was £15,000, while also finding that 61% of couples opted to make their own favors. Twenty-seven percent of us chose a church or religious building to hold the ceremony, while one in five decided to get married in a hotel.

While many people are led to assume that it is cheaper to hold your wedding ceremony abroad, only 5% of couples actioned this by jetting off to tie the knot. This could be due to some locations requiring a minimum stay of residency before you tie the knot. In Italy, for example, you should arrive in the country between four and seven days before the service, depending on where in the country your big day is taking place.

Outside of the UK, wedding laws can be rather complex and if you are saying ‘I do’ on foreign shores, then this is something to bear in mind. Here, we look at the weird, the wonderful and the quirky marriage laws that are in place around the world.

marriage laws

Marrying afterlife

Marriage can go beyond the grave in France. While this may sound morbid, it’s actually a law that if you intended to marry the person before their death, then you can still go ahead with the ceremony if they pass away. There must be members of the deceased person’s family present at the posthumous marriage for it to be approved by law, though.

Your wife can legally kill you

The act of cheating on your wife in Hong Kong isn’t taken lightly; if you are found out for your infidelity, then by law your spouse can kill you! The only requirement is that she does so with her bare hands. Brutal!

Forget-my-birthday-not

If you are visiting Samoa, then take heed of this and fill your phone calendar with some all-important dates — if you missed your partner’s birthday while in the country, you’d be breaking the law! While you just end up in the dog house if you miss your partner’s birthday in most countries, it’s illegal to do so in Samoa, so the chocolates and groveling simply won’t cut it.

No minimum age

Attempts to repeal a Saudi Arabian law failed in 2015, and consequently, it is still legal for people to marry under the age of 15. Unfortunately, the fact that anyone can get married at any age has led to issues in the country, including an eight-year-old girl failing to be granted a divorce from her abusive husband who was more than 50 years her senior.

Kidnap to marry

Romance tends to be a two-way street in most cultures, but some belief otherwise. This isn’t always the case for couples in the Roma communities across the globe. According to a centuries-old tradition, if a man can ‘successfully’ kidnap a girl and keep her by their side for three days, then she will become his wife.

Inform the world

If you’re looking to keep your ceremony low key, then be thankful that you aren’t a Monaco native. In the Italian city, your business is everyone else’s too when it comes to being wed. You must inform the community of your marriage by sticking a note on the door of the Town Hall for 10 days!

It almost comes as no surprise that America has some wacky wedding laws. Here is a pick of the craziest:

Kill to marry

This is perhaps one of the strangest laws for marriage in the world, so brace yourself! On Cape Cod, the town of Truro voted for every single man to kill six blackbirds or three crows before they are allowed to get married. This law apparently dates back to 1771, when the area had an issue with birds eating crops.

Marrying into your own family

In Utah, keeping it in the family is fine — you can legally marry your first cousin if they are over 55. If both partners are over 55 and can’t reproduce, then it’s legally accepted for the pair to tie the knot.

No drunks allowed

While blurry eyed weddings are common in Las Vegas, if a priest in Mississippi believes that you or your partner have had one drink too many then they will not grant you a marriage license — so don’t hit the bottle too early! The circuit court clerk may also reject your license if they believe you to be ‘insane’ or an ‘imbecile’.

Marrying without the bride and groom

At a typical wedding, the bride tends to steal the show. However, in Montana, the bride and groom don’t have to be in attendance on their big day. The ‘double proxy’ wedding law, intended to allow members of the Armed Forces to wed, enables both the bride and groom to authorize someone to stand in their place during the ceremony.

All or nothing

The complications of a divorce can be messy, deciding who gets ownership of your once shared possessions. Well, if you’re a woman, head to Alabama. There, unless you enter into a pre-nuptial agreement, the woman gets to keep all the possessions you acquired prior to the marriage. Unfortunately, the same allowance isn’t made if you’re a man.

Marriage is different from country to country but being aware of any strange laws can prove useful — hopefully, they aren’t as outlandish as some featured on this list! Wherever you plan to tie the knot, we hope it’s the best day of your life and you both live happily ever after together.

This article was brought to you by Lake District Country Hotels,  the home of idyllic wedding venues in Cumbria.

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1 Comment

  • Dhawal Joshi

    Quite an interesting read.

    June 21, 2019 at 1:37 pm Reply
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