I have clients who ask me all the time whether they should marry in Australia or marry in the Philippines. Usually in there is the question “Which is better?”, and sometimes “Which way does the Department or Embassy prefer?” for an Australian Partner Visa application from the Philippines.
I’ll tell you right now there is no “better way”, and the Department and the Embassy don’t care where you marry as long as it’s legal. They recognize Filipino marriages, and they recognize Australian marriages as proof of being spouses for Partner Visa applications. There is no “better” place to marry, nor is there a lesser or inferior way or place to marry. Both are legal. They don’t mind. WE don’t mind.
What matters to Down Under Visa?
You and your Filipina fiancée being happy and having the wedding of your dreams! It’s our wish that this be a wonderful day, and that it be your very last wedding of your life!
An Australian man marrying in the Philippines
What does it actually mean to marry in the Philippines? And will you be happy with this decision?
This is the only real point, I can assure you. Philippines weddings can make you or break you. It can be a magic day that you will remember the rest of your lives, or it can be a source of great stress and frustration and can lead to fights….which you really don’t need.
How long do you need to be in the Philippines for a wedding?
I’ve always said three to four weeks, and if you can’t spare this time you shouldn’t even try! There is a lot to do. We observed Jeremy’s wedding preparation in December 2017 (Jeremy is my son and Down Under Visa’s office manager). It was a busy time! I won’t attempt to cover everything in detail here, but you need:
- Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (NOIM) from the Embassy in Manila
- Birth certificates
- CENOMAR’s (Certificates of No Marriage)
- Marriage License from City Hall
- Seminar (contraception, avoiding domestic violence, etc) via City Hall
- Church, priest, pastor, celebrant (whatever your choice is)
- Often a wedding planner and/or MC at the reception
- Wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses, clothes for the groom, groomsmen and umpteen other people – rented or made new
- Makeup people (usually bakla, ie gay men)
- The opinions and/or input from umpteen relatives and very little input from you
Philippines Wedding or not?
- If you have a sense of humour, a generally laid-back and relaxed approach to most things, and you are happy to go with the spirit of it all?
- If you don’t mind if the organization is/seems chaotic and illogical?
- If you are OK with crowds (especially lots of children) and noise?
- If you’re OK that the preferences of others often overtake what would have been your preferences?
You will probably have a wonderful wedding that you will enjoy almost as much as your wife will.
- If you are a diligent planner, and insist on plans being rigidly adhered to?
- If you have firm ideas which you’ve put your foot down about?
- If you insist on being consulted and informed at every step?
- If you have been referred to sometimes as a control-freak?
You may have made the wrong choice, and maybe Australia is the right place for your wedding!
I’m really not trying to say one type of person is good or bad. Truth is, I’m probably more of the second type. Ask anyone who works for me! I’m more flexible and more reflective now after eight years living in the Philippines, and I know when to simply back off and say “Tell me when it’s ready!”
And yes, we married in Australia. I definitely would have exploded a few times if we had tried to marry in the Philippines back then. Would have been a few frayed nerves and a few frayed relationships, I’m sure. When it came to Jeremy’s wedding I pretty much stayed in the background, and yes it was a beautiful occasion. Traditional Nuptial Mass at Taal Vista with the Taal Lake and volcano in the background. Beautiful and moving.
So, no right way and no wrong way. Make your choice and do what makes you happy. And remember there are two of you, and one of you is going to be from the Philippines. Different culture and different expectations. Make it memorable, and tell us what you want. We can’t and won’t advise you on your wedding planning, but we WILL manage a really excellent Partner Visa application that will see you both together in Australia as soon as possible. Spend five minutes doing our free online visa assessment form!