Most European countries require civil marriages, a church ceremony isn’t seen as legal. The Church accepts civil marriages as true marriages (most priests prefer to have a religious service, as well, though); we do NOT agree with the papist position on this (just as we don’t agree with their position on divorce). However, it’s not a good sign to see people forgo a church ceremony… it’s not simply a ritual gesture, after all.
Since the onset of the financial crisis earlier this year, an increasing number of Greek couples are opting for civil weddings rather than expensive religious ceremonies, and even those who decide to splash for a church service are cutting back on the trimmings. An official at Piraeus City Hall told Kathimerini that municipal authorities had seen a surge of interest in civil weddings. “There’s definitely an upward trend”, he said. “Many couples decide to do the civil ceremony first with the aim of having a religious wedding afterward, but they don’t usually follow through with the second stage of the plan”, the official added. A spokesman for the Municipality of Ilion, western Athens, reported the same trend. “Civil weddings are up by 10 percent”, said the head of the weddings department. “After a period of one to three years, not even half of these couples will have a religious ceremony”, the official added.
It’s clear that financial concerns are behind the shift, officials say, as a civil wedding costs much less than a religious ceremony… just 50 euros (2,046 Roubles 66 USD 42 UK Pounds) to cover the fees of both spouses and the publication of the marriage notice. A spokesman for the municipal authorities in Maroussi, northern Athens, said that some couples used to opt for civil weddings to acquire a mortgage on more favourable terms. Fewer couples are seeking to buy properties in the current climate, however, the official said, noting that those asking for civil weddings now appear to be doing so to save money. Many couples going ahead with religious ceremonies are also reportedly cutting back on costs. According to the priest in charge of organising marriages at a church in Maroussi, couples ask for “only the absolute basics. They no longer want all the trimmings, the choirs, red carpets, and trinkets for guests”, he said.
4 December 2010