Marriage in Bulgaria

Dating Velida

Dating Velida

Marriage in Bulgaria

According to the Bulgarian Family Code, only civil marriages are legally valid in Bulgaria. The religious ceremony  is optional and can be performed only after a civil ceremony has taken place. The religious ceremony itself has no legal status.

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The legal age for getting married in Bulgaria is 18 years. People under that age, but who have already turned 16, may get married with the permission of the Chair of the Regional Court. Application for a permit to marry must be made at the regional court where the couple reside; if they do not both reside in the same region, they may choose which region’s court to apply to.

Marriages in Bulgaria are subject to a residency requirement. One of the couple should be either a Bulgarian citizen or a resident (long-term or temporary) of the country.

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Validity of Bulgarian Civil Marriage

A civil marriage, performed according to the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria, is generally recognised in other countries. This should be checked with the relevant authorities of the country in question.

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Some countries may require an apostile be put on the Bulgarian marriage certificate by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for the certificate to be translated into the language of the foreign spouse. This must be done by a certified translator, recognised by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Same-sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is not permitted in Bulgaria; there is no legal recognition of same sex partnerships. However this is currently under debate. Cohabitation is not legally recognised in Bulgaria.

Further Information
  • Information on getting married from the US Embassy: Click here
  • Information on registering a marriage from the UK Embassy: Click here
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Bulgarian Wedding Traditions

Bulgaria is a land steeped in tradition. Many of its ancient traditions, including its wedding traditions, are still practiced today, little changed from 500 years ago.


The pre-engagement and full-engagement rites

Even today many couples still observe the ancient engagement rites just as they have been handed down for generations. Even in ancient times a wedding required the agreement of the bride, something not true in many cultures. Traditionally the prospective groom would send his closest friend to his intended’s home to ask her father for his blessing. If the father agreed to the marriage he would then ask his daughter three times if she wished to marry. If she answered “Yes” all three times then she was considered pre-engaged and the prospective groom was invited to the house.

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The actual engagement takes place on a holiday or on a Sunday. Relatives and neighbors are invited and a small feast is held. It is during this meeting that details of the marriage are agreed upon. An agreement made during this engagement feast is considered legal and binding. The engagement lasts from one day to a year or even longer depending on local customs.

Just before the marriage ceremony is to take place the groom’s friends throw him a bachelor party and the bride’s friends throw her a party as well. In olden times there was a great deal of ritual involved with the parties, but today the parties are similar to the parties in the United States or Western Europe. Even so, this is a time for the man and the woman to bid their single friends farewell

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Pre-wedding rituals

Most weddings in Bulgaria take place on Sunday. On the preceding Thursday the bride’s mother performs the ritual kneading of the bread (pitka). The rising of the dough symbolizes the creation of a new family unit.

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At the same time the husband-to-be’s best man must make the wedding banner. There is a great deal of ritual associated with the wedding banner. The pole for the banner must be from a fruit-bearing tree and the 6-foot-long pole must be chopped from the tree with a single ax stroke. An apple or an onion wrapped in foil is pierced onto the top of the pole, and a hand-woven kerchief is attached to the pole along with colorful ribbons, ivy, and strings of popcorn.

Early on the morning of the wedding the groom’s family and friends gather at his home. His friends pour barley over him and fire rifles into the air to ward off any evil spirits. This is also where the groom bids farewell to his parents and asks for their blessing. There is then a procession to the best man’s home. The procession is joyful with much dancing, music and singing. The groom presents the best man with wine and a baked chicken – and from that point on the best man’s word is law as far as the wedding plans go. The best woman (often the best man’s wife) and the best man then lead the procession to the bride’s house where they present the bride with wine, the bridal veil, candles and baked candies.

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Once the wedding party arrives at the bride’s home there is much merrymaking and the bride is locked in a room and only the best woman can visit her until the groom and the best man bargain to be let in. The best woman then tries to put the bride’s veil on three times; twice the bride rejects the veil and only accepts it on the third attempt. Finally the bride and groom are led outside, each holding the end of a long woven cloth where more rituals are performs to keep evil spirits away from the couple. Then the soon-to-be bride throws a dish filled with wheat, coins and a raw egg over her head. If the dish smashes into many pieces it is considered good luck.

The procession from the bride’s house to the church is noisy and cheerful. Fireworks are often set off, there is the beating of drums, and the procession often stops to dance. However, it is considered bad luck for two unmarried brides-to-be to meet face-to-face, so if two bridal processions are winding through the streets they take great care not to meet each other.

The marriage ceremony rituals


It is considered good luck for the bride and the groom to each step into the church with their right foot first. The wedding ceremony itself is often rather short, but interspersed with folk songs. At the conclusion of the ceremony the bride and groom exchange rings and the traditional wedding kiss. Once the official wedding papers are signed another wedding custom is the “stepping.” Whoever steps on the other’s foot first will be dominate and provide for the new family.

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The reception

In days past there would be a loud and boisterous wedding procession to the groom’s house for the wedding reception. In modern times the reception is generally held in a restaurant. It is at the reception that the groom’s mother traditionally meets the new family. She lays a long, white hand-woven cloth at the door for the newly-married couple to enter on and she throws flowers in their path as a symbol of health, happiness and purity in their new life together. The groom’s mother feeds the newlyweds a sweet honeyed cake and wine and wishes them a long and sweet life together. She then holds a loaf of freshly-baked bread over her head and invites the couple to each pull one end of it; whichever one gets the bigger piece will have the biggest role in the new family.

And then the music and the dancing begins. Dancing is a large part of the Bulgarian wedding reception ritual. In some parts of the country it is even customary for the bride and groom to dance to receive their wedding cake.

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4 Responses to Marriage in Bulgaria

  1. Agency Velida says:

    Marriage Between U.S. and Bulgarian Citizens

    Getting Married in Bulgaria

    If you are a U.S. citizen and wish to marry a Bulgarian citizen in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian authorities require that you make a statement before a U.S. consular officer, swearing that you are legally eligible to marry. The fee for notarization of this statement is $50. This service is conducted at the Consular Section on Mondays through Friday. Please call the Consular Section at (359 2) 937 5444 – from 9:00 a.m. to noon to arrange a specific time. The statement must include the full name of the American citizen (please bring your U.S. passport) and the full name, date of birth and current address of the Bulgarian citizen spouse. This statement is not required if the American citizen spouse holds dual citizenship and is also a Bulgarian citizen.

    The sworn statement must then be taken to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be authenticated, before you may get married. See the Family-Based Petitions section for details.

    Marriage of U. S. Citizens Abroad

    U.S. diplomatic and consular officers are not permitted to perform marriages. Marriages abroad are almost always performed by local civil officials. Marriages in Bulgaria are performed by officials at a civil wedding hall.

    As a rule, marriages are not performed on the premises of an American embassy or consulate. The validity of marriages abroad does not depend upon the presence of an American diplomatic or consular officer, but upon adherence to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed. Marriage ceremonies in Bulgaria are performed at civil wedding halls.

    In general, marriages that are legally performed and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Inquiries regarding the validity of a marriage abroad should be directed to the Attorney General of the state in the United States where you reside or intend to reside. Upon obtaining the apostille seal on a marriage certificate, which has been issued by Bulgarian authorities at a civil wedding hall, a Bulgarian marriage certificate (with certified English translation) may be presented to U.S. authorities as proof of a legally contracted marriage. More information about authenticating marriage certificates may be found in our section on Notarial Services.

    Marriages in Bulgaria are subject to the residency requirement. One of the parties to the marriage should be either a citizen of Bulgaria or domicile in the country.

    Getting Married in the United States

    If you are a U.S. citizen and wish to have a Bulgarian citizen come to marry you in the United States, you must file an I-129F (fiancé) petition with the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States. The Consular Section cannot process I-129F petitions. Please contact USCIS to obtain the proper forms and instructions. Once USCIS has approved the petition, you and your fiancé(e) will be notified and the petition will be sent directly to the Consular Section in Sofia. Once the petition has been received in Sofia, you may schedule an interview appointment for the Bulgarian fiancé(e) by telephoning the Immigrant Visa Unit at +359-2-937-5100, weekday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Please note that these interviews are scheduled for Monday through Thursday mornings.

  2. dating says:

    I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layout of your website?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more
    in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
    one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  3. Agency Velida says:

    Thanks for your advice 🙂 It`s done 🙂

  4. KASHIF says:

    If any Pakistani wants to get marry to Bulgarian lady then whats the process ?

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