Marriages and partnerships
Are you and your partner planning to make your relationship official in the Grand Duchy? Here's an overview of your options for saying "I do" in Luxembourg.
Getting married is still popular in the Grand Duchy, with almost 2,000 couples saying "I do" every year. Other interesting facts: over 10% of marriages are entered into between Luxembourgers and non-Luxembourgers, and around 50 same-sex marriages have been celebrated each year since same-sex marriage was made legal in 2015.
Marriage or civil partnership?
Various partnership options are available in the Grand Duchy, including marriage, of course, which is the most popular form of partnership, but also the PACS civil partnership.
To enter into a civil marriage in the Grand Duchy, the future spouses must be at least 18 years of age, and one of them must be officially resident in the Grand Duchy. It is nevertheless possible for minors to marry. In that case, an authorisation from the public prosecutor is necessary. Before being able to appear before the mayor or alderman of the municipality where you get married, you will need to allow at least 2 months (3 if one of the spouses is not a Luxembourg national) for completing the administrative formalities.
A civil marriage is legally valid, whereas a purely religious marriage is not. In fact, a religious marriage ceremony may only be held if the couple has already entered into a civil marriage.
Apart from civil marriage, the PACS civil partnership is another option. A PACS civil partnership is a certification of partnership before the civil registrar of the municipality of residence, for people living as a couple. Like civil marriage, PACS is open to both hetero- and homosexual couples. A PACS grants the partners similar rights to those that married people are entitled to - with regard to social protection, or tax relief, for example.
The civil partnership (PACS) is a relatively recent institution in the Grand Duchy; it was introduced by the law of 9 July 2004. It provides legal security in civil, fiscal and social security matters for two people, of the same or different gender, who have decided to live together without getting married. It constitutes legal recognition of ways of living together other than marriage.
A partnership – or common-law union – is a domestic community of two people of the same or different gender, referred to as "partners". The partners must appear before the registrar of the municipality in which they live in order to declare their partnership personally and jointly.
Anyone, regardless of their nationality, may enter into a partnership in Luxembourg, provided that they are legally resident here.
Customs depend very much on the couple's preferences. A white wedding dress is still very popular, but there is no obligation - any colour is possible. The groom usually wears a dark suit, accessorised to harmonise with the colours worn by the bride.
If a couple decides to get married in church as well , the two ceremonies (civil and religious) often take place around the same time, sometimes even during the same week. In that case, it is usually for the religious ceremony that a big party is thrown.
Speaking of which: parties often involve a drink party (apéritif) bringing together friends, colleagues and the extended family, followed bya festive meal attended by the spouses and a close circle of family and friends, etc.). The highlights of the evening include the couple's first dance together, the tossing of the bride's bouquet, and the cutting of the cake by the newly weds.
As for gifts, most couples start a wedding list at one or more shops to add to their household fittings or to finance the eagerly awaited honeymoon.
Divorce or separation?
Legally, divorcing people are married people, regardless of their matrimonial scheme. Luxembourg law allows a couple to divorce. As well as divorce, the law also provides for legal separation, which does not automatically end the marriage.
There are three types of divorce in the Grand Duchy:
- divorce on the grounds of fault;
- divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
- divorce by mutual consent.