Thursday, May 24, 2012

Common questions about getting a Solemnizing officer ( introduction to our S.O. Review )

Of all the suppliers combined, finding a Solemnizing Officer (S.O.) was hands down the most difficult.

What made it difficult was that only a limited few have anything to say about it. And no one we knew, during our planning stages have actually had a wedding officiated by one.

It was very much a shot it the dark and we really didn't know if it would work. It was scary since our wedding is on the line here, yet we know that this is what we wanted and we just have to try and trust that it'll work out for the best.

Aris Centeno's name came up on one of the GT threads. It was a very old post. Fortunately, his contact number was also given.

I gave him an initial call and it turned out really well. Sir Aris was so easy to talk to. He's very patient in explaining things to me.

Since we still don't have the legal requirements, we put off meeting with him until a few weeks before the wedding. If we had only talked to him sooner, we would have saved us a lot of unnecessary worries.

Before I talk more about my rating, I'd like to address some questions that really confused us with this S.O. officiated ceremonies :

Is catholic marriage allowed outside church?

No, it's no longer allowed. Bishop Gaudencio Rosales banned all wedding rites from being held outside churches. The only exception is when one of the couple is “in periculo mortis” which means that he/she is near death. ( source )

Will we have a catholic wedding if the solemnizing officer is not a priest?

For any catholic couple, a marriage officiated by an S.O. (who is not a priest) is not considered valid by the Catholic church. It is, however, valid and binding in the Philippine law's legal perspective. 

Is this a civil or a church wedding?

It is neither.

A civil ceremony by definition is a ceremony performed by a government or civil official. Whereas a church wedding is simply that, a wedding ceremony performed in church.

It's more of like a civil wedding on the legal aspect. On the other hand, the ceremony and everything else may resemble a catholic wedding if the couple so chooses. 

However, since this option is not common with Filipinos, we just say it's civil to avoid lengthy discussions.

We checked his sect at the Solemnizing Officers Information System by NSO and it's not Catholic. Does this mean that we have to convert (or at least pretend to convert) to a different faith?

This confusion was caused by the 1987 Family Code of the Philippines' Chapter 1, Article 7, which states that a solemnizing officer may be a priest or minister who is authorized by his church or sect and registered with the local civil registrar.

Sir Aris is also of catholic faith. He is not a pastor nor a priest though he was an ex-seminarian. He, together with representatives of other religions registered an ecumenical* organization with SEC and later with NSO. This is the reason why his registered sect is not showing as Catholic.

A point to note:

All registered S.O. whose indicated sect is catholic, are priests.

What are the documents needed?

The S.O. would only need the marriage license so that he may draft the contract. Click here for info on how to apply for a marriage license.

Is the ceremony like most church weddings?

It's totally up to you, the couple. The only thing that you won't be able to incorporate would be the mass. The rest such as candle, cord and veil can be thrown in to the mix. It would be best to discuss the program with your S.O. just so you're on the same page with him.

In our case, we already drafted the program before we spoke with Sir Aris. It was only then that we found out that he preferred for the program and the ceremony proper to be separated. Because of this, we had to make some revisions on what we initially planned.

Can we add certain elements to the ceremony like different kinds of readings, personal vows, etc?

Yes, you can. Just make sure to discuss it with your S.O. to avoid any hassle. 

Are you and your fiance/fiancee Catholics who wants an outside wedding and a personalized, touching ceremony to boot? Then this option may just be right for both of you.

It certainly worked for us.. :D

My rating in details.. coming up next..

*In wedding parlance, this means that they are able to legally marry couples as long as they believe in Christ. Right now, it only governs heterosexual marriages since same sex marriage are not yet legal in the Philippines. Their jurisdiction doesn't include other religion that does not believe in Christ such as Muslims, Buddhist etc.


bpvarona said...

HI there!

Congratulations on your wedding!

I just stumbled upon your blog since I am considering the UP Bonsai Gardens for my wedding too. Anyway my fiance and I wanted a civil wedding, and I'm confused about this solemnizing officer thing.

Did you still have to go through the ceremony with judge? Or is the solemnizing officer enough? The section about the either the bride or the groom being of the same faith as the SO is confusing. Like if we also get Aris Centeno, is the marriage already considered valid? We are both Catholic, but have no desire to undergo a Catholic wedding.

Any clarification or piece of advice would be greatly appreciated :)

chi said...

Hi there!


I totally understand your confusion. We're on the same boat when we decided to go this way with our ceremony. As for your questions:

- No. You don't have to go through a judge anymore. Sir Aris is licensed to officiate weddings hence, any wedding ceremony he performs is considered valid and binding in the Philippine law's legal perspective.

- The part about being of the same faith as that of the SO is really that. However, this is applicable for the religious organization that an SO registers when he files for his license and not the one that he is personally practicing.

For example, Sir Aris is of Catholic faith. However, he, together with different representatives of other religions registered an Ecumenical Organization with SEC and NSO.

Ecumenical (in essence) strives to unite all religion that believes in Christ.

Therefore, if one of you believes in Christ, regardless if you're Catholic, Christian, Protestant etc. then he can officiate your ceremony. But, let's say both of you are Muslims or Buddhist, then he can't marry you (since Muslims and Buddhists don't believe in Christ)

I hope my explanation shed some light on this very confusing topic. Please feel free to shoot any other questions you may have and I'll try to answer it as best as I can.

Happy preps =D

Anonymous said...

HI, I'm looking for someone who can solemnize our wedding too, I'm Catholic while my husband is a Muslim. Can Sir Aris Centeno (for instance), marry us? Thank you in advance.

Wyatt said...

Hi Chi!

My Cheryl and I will be getting married in September and we are looking for a Solemnizing Officer. Is Sir Aris still performing weddings and can you put me in touch with him?

Our blog is at

Chi Suarez said...

Hi Wyatt,

First off, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I'd be happy to give you his details. Please send me your email through the contact link above and I'll send you his details.


Chi Suarez said...

Hi there,

Regarding your question on as to whether he can marry you.. Yes, since you're a catholic. The rule for him is that provided that one of you believes in Jesus, then he has solemnizing authority to wed you.

Hope this helps.


jo said...

Hi Ma'am, Question lang po. Im from Bulacan and we are planning to get married to Tagaytay. Saan po ba kami dapat mag apply ng marriage license? Sa bulacan where I am residing, or in tagaytay kung san kami kakasal? Hope to hear from you. Thank you in advanced

Chi Suarez said...

Hi Jo,

AFAIK, dun kayo kukuha kung san kayo nakatira.. You're welcome! :D

aivee valente said...

i am also having problem getting a legal official for my wedding rites on a beach. thank u for your info on mr centeno.
may i ask for his details.
thank you

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog kasi im also looking for a SO who can officiate my garden wedding. Im just curious if Sir Aris can officiate wedding anywhere? Can i also have his phone number?


Chi Suarez said...

Hi Aivee and RPP,

Please give me your email address so that I can send it. You can use the contact form if you don't want your addresses published.


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