Say "Yes" at & to the right place! - Marriage or declaring a PACS will be possible at locations other than the City Hall

Today, the Minister for Home Affairs, Taina Bofferding, and the Minister of Justice, Sam Tanson, presented the details of the modernisation of the celebration of civil marriage and partnership (PACS).

©MINT (l. to r.) Taina Bofferding, Minister for Home Affairs ; Sam Tanson, Minister of Justice
(l. to r.) Taina Bofferding, Minister for Home Affairs ; Sam Tanson, Minister of Justice

The government proposed this modernisation in the coalition agreement 2018-2023 in order to better take into account the expectations of individuals who celebrate a lifelong union. Considering that couples increasingly want their ceremony to be organised according to their needs and tailored to their personality, it was important, in the eyes of the ministers, to offer them a more contemporary and individual approach to the organisation of this celebration.

"We want to offer couples more flexibility in celebrating the most beautiful day of their lives. From now on, the municipalities will be able to determine new places of celebration. We are not only responding to a wish of the population, but also of the municipalities, which want more flexibility for the benefit of their inhabitants. This is a project that concerns everyone and everyone will benefit from it,” says Taina Bofferding.

In the future, the municipal council will be able to designate one or more places other than the City Hall, on the territory of the municipality, for the celebration of marriages and the declaration of partnerships, according to the criteria set out in the municipal law. The future spouses or partners will therefore have the possibility of choosing a place among those established by the municipality, their preferred place, the right place.

In order to be eligible by the municipal council, the places where marriages or partnerships are celebrated must meet several criteria: they must belong to the municipality, the State or a public institution, they must be located on the territory of the municipality, they must be assigned to a public service, they must be neutral, they must guarantee a solemn and public celebration of the marriage or partnership and they must allow the civil registrar to carry out his or her duties in accordance with his or her obligations.

It should be noted that the neutral character thus excludes any place used for religious worship. However, ceremonies may take place in deconsecrated religious buildings, even if they are equipped with furniture or decorated with objects of a religious nature, the legal act of desecration being the only determining factor.

Places that can be chosen besides the City Hall are, for example, historical monuments, cultural centres or festival halls, castles open to the public, municipal parks etc.

Sam Tanson appreciates this modernisation: "This openness regarding the organisation of civil ceremonies reflects the openness of our society to take into consideration all unions between two partners. The celebration of this civil union in a more spacious public place, or one more to the taste of the couple, meets the societal expectations of the 21st century.”

Furthermore, the mayor will also be able to delegate more easily to another member of the municipal council the functions of civil registrar for a given marriage or declaration of partnership. This will give the ceremony a more personal touch, as it is increasingly common for future spouses or partners to request that a member of the municipal council with whom they have a friendly relationship celebrate their marriage or partnership.

More information on the bill is available online:

Press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Justice

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