How to get Married in Lebanon

Civil Marriages:

In Lebanon, couples can only get married legally in a church or mosque. Because civil marriage does not exist no government officials can wed a couple. Since there isn’t a system for civil marriages, some wishing to be wed as such must be married outside of the country. Lebanon recognizes civil marriages outside the country but the couple must become officially registered in the Lebanese Embassy.

Interfaith Marriages:

Marriages in Lebanon are performed by a religious authority and require the partner to convert to the faith of the other for the purpose of becoming one. Marriage between Muslims and Christians are highly discouraged. But a Sunni or Shia Muslim man can marry a Christian or Jewish women but a Muslim woman cannot marry either. Mixed marriage is frowned upon by society and makes getting married a lot harder. There are many laws that mixed couples have to abide by that other couples of the same faith don’t have to.


If you were to get married in Lebanon you would have to have your passport or a government issued ID. The documentation needed to have a marriage performed in Lebanon can change depending on the local authorities. Men can get married at the age of 18 and women can be married at the age of 18. With guardian permissions, girls can be married at 9 while boys can be married at 17. There are proxy or same sex marriages but cousin marriage is allowed

Looking at all of the above, it is drastically different to get married in Lebanon than in the United States. The fact that civil marriages are not even performed in Lebanon is astounding. You have to be committed to religion to get married and in the United States, couples can get married by a government official and don’t have to go the religious route. In the U.S. you could even get married in a courthouse if you wanted but in Lebanon that is not accepted. Mixed marriage is also very different in the U.S. We do not have to convert to our partner’s religion; we can freely marry whomever we want without even thinking about that. Why should we have to convert to another’s religion? Why not keep our beliefs? The fact that parent’s can let their daughters marry so young, is crazy to me. I think that they should definitely be a lot older in order to make those kinds of decisions. It is such a huge step in life and that decision being made a young age, wouldn’t end well.

Overall, it seems difficult to get married in Lebanon. I wonder how many people get married outside of the country? Do these civilians accept all of these requirements? Why is religion such a big factor in getting married? Shouldn’t they have the freedom to decide how they want to get married?

Sources: Marriage in Lebanon

3 thoughts on “How to get Married in Lebanon

  1. Perfect. Some of my observations:

    * Interfaith marriages are not always happy marriages and I believe the reason is obvious. If the couple are both Muslims, then can pray their daily prayers together, fast together in Ramadan, etc. If they are both Christians, they can go to Church together, fast Lent, etc.
    But if one is Christian and the other is Muslim, it becomes complicated. How should they begin the meal? With a Christian grace or an Islamic prayer? And hundreds of such questions. It becomes more complicated if they have children as well. However, occasionally, interfaith marriages can be successful, if they respect each other’s religion and are united by the Love of God….So, I think it is reasonable to think well before entering an interfaith marriage.

    * As for why religion is important in marriage…I think generally in a Middle-Eastern society (and in fact in all eastern societies, including the Hindu India, the Buddhist Thailand, etc) religion is the most important part of a person’s identity…whereas in the West [esp in the Europe but also to some extent in the US] religion is marginalised and the society has adopted a secular attitude…So that may be a reason Lebanese society does not accept the idea of a civil marriage the way American society does.

    * As for the age of marriage : I believe the majority of girls in the Middle East marry when they are older than 18 (or at least 16)…but there are those who get married younger (If you read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was 14 when she married…and in the Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary was 14 when she gave birth to Christ)
    Even today in the West, there are cases of young girls (sometimes 14 or 15) getting pregnant and having to raise kids by their own, with no emotional/psychological/financial support coming from the boy…without the peace and stability that a marriage entails.

    I guess, to the Middle-Eastern mind (or again Eastern mind), this sounds way more crazy than marrying at a young age.

    God knows best. 🙂

  2. Since couples need to convert to the same faith, I would assume that some individuals who convert do not fully devote themselves to their new faith. For instance, they would convert so they would be allowed to marry their loved one, not necessarily because they want to follow said faith. How do religious figures monitor this? Do they just trust an individual’s declaration of faith or do they observe/test the individual? This article is really interesting. It illustrates another discrepancy in women’s and men’s rights, because the earliest age men can marry is 17 but girls can as young as 9 (key word: girls). The comment above gives two instances when girls “marry” young. But it fails to justify why it is acceptable for women to be married so young and men have to be at least 17. Juliet was never married – she just fell in love. Virgin Mary may have been 14 but no male impregnated her and she was not married. And although both girls were 14, that is still a five year difference from 9 years old. Five years is a long time and I was definitely more mature at 14 years old than 9 years old. On top of that, I am absolutely more mature at 17 years (earliest males can marry) than 14 years old. And I understand that there is probably a very low number of girls who actually get married that young, however, the fact that men do not have to get married that young is what I find troubling. I do realize that marriage ages may be culture sensitive or that maybe these women really do want to be married this young. However, all in all I just feel like men are able to have a lot more time to mature, be independent, and date before they are married.

    1. Dear Clarindalyons,

      Since you mentioned my comment, let me clarify a few points:

      Juliet married Romeo, according to Shakespeare’s play. The Virgin Mary was married to Joseph, according to the Bible. These were two examples at hand. They were meant to show that teenage wives and mothers (or those whom nowadays call “teenage”) were the norm before the modern era, in both East and West.

      Maturity does not always come with age. There are those, in their teenage years, who are more mature and more apt to shoulder responsibility than others in their twenties or thirties. This depends on the cultural upbringing and on several other factors. Nevertheless, any age that is fixed by the law (as the marriageable age) is early for some and late for others.

      Girls enter puberty sooner than boys. Men are fertile “for a longer time” than women are. So, biologically speaking, it is reasonable for females to marry a few years earlier; and for males to marry a few years later.

      In the more traditional Middle East, getting married is one of the greatest desires of young men and women. One reason is that sexual desires are not so freely satisfied outside of marriage; and marriage is an end to the years of deprivation and anticipation. Therefore, they see marriage as a blessing, and not as as something that ties their hands and limits their freedom. However, marriage is not always easy; and especially not so for men. Because the bride and/or her family have many expectations: He should have a stable job, a car, a house, etc. This makes it hard for young men/women to marry, unless older people understand the young and help them.

      There are aspects of Western culture that Easterners find “problematic”, to put it in a mild way. In a country such as Germany: a 14 year old girl can have sex [outside marriage] legally; while if the same girl wants to marry, she has to wait four more years. Similarly, a 14 year old boy can have sex with a girl in her school…but he if actually wants to take on commitment and enter into a sacred covenant, it is said that “he is too young”. It is better to marry at a young age; than to yield to light love.

      And again, God knows best.

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