Is it possible to get married in a Belgian castle hotel?
If you want a reaffirmation of vows, then yes, you can do this at a Belgian castle hotel. But for a legal wedding you have to go to the Civil Registry first. If you wish to follow this with a religious ceremony, you will have a difficult time to find a member of the clergy who will perform this outside a church. The Hotel Dukes’ Palace in Bruges has an historical listed chapel on site.
Getting married in Belgium is not that hard. On the assumption that neither party is a Belgian national (or you wouldn’t be reading this), one of you must reside in Belgium for three months before the wedding. You’ll be asked to document this. You both also must be 18 years of age or older and free to marry.
Only civil marriages are recognized in Belgium. Two weeks before your wedding you must file an “act of intent to marry,” or banns, also known in Dutch and French respectively as akte van aangifte van het huwelijk/ acte de déclaration de mariage, which is made public. You now have between two weeks and six months in which to marry.
Documents you’ll need to bring to the registrar are:
- Certified Birth certificate
- Proof of residency. If you’re from a country that offers no official proof of residency like the U.S., inquire the registrar of what is acceptible to them.
- Proof of three-month residency in Belgium for one of the partners. This can be a rental agreement.
- If previously married, you’ll need either a death or divorce certificate.
All foreign documents will need to be translated by a sworn translator and authorized with an Apostille stamp.
The ceremony will take place at the registry office, which is usually the town hall. The only Belgian authority permitted to perform a marriage is called the “Ambtenaar an de Burgerlijke Stand” or the “Officier de l’Etat Civil.” If you don’t understand Dutch or French, you’ll need a translator. Even though a ceremony at the town hall might suggest something perfunctory, the building and setting inside can be something from another century and the ceremony itself quite heartfelt.
Belgium recognizes same-sex marriages.