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Joseph and Emma Smith(Doctrine & Covenants 1835 edition pg 251 Section CI MARRIAGE.

1. According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: therefore we believe, that all marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose: and that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority.-We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination so to do,  . . . . (emphasis added). 

Virtually identical language is contained in the Section 109 of the 1854 version of the Doctrine and Covenants (p. 311) which was published long after the completion (and destruction) of the Nauvoo Temple, and two years after the announcement of plural marriage (polygamy). 

Clearly, even during the open and public practice of polygamy the Mormon Church believed in traditional public marriage ceremonies, not closed, secret, tightly controlled marriage ceremonies.

Teachings of Brigham Young on Marriage

"Marriage is a civil contract. You might as well make a law to say how many children a man shall have, as to make a law to say how many wives he shall have." 

JD 11:270, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866

The following is a map and list of countries in green that require a civil marriage first and where the LDS Church does not penalize LDS couples with a one year waiting period before they can go to the Mormon temple.  The countries shown in red are where the LDS Church penalizes LDS couples with a one year waiting period.

Map of World

If you know of a country that is not shown above or listed below that requires civil marriage first, please contact us

Russia, there is a civil ceremony requirement. Following the civil marriage ceremony, couples are free to marry in a religious ceremony. Such ceremonies, however, only serve to provide a religious recognition of the marriage, since the state's recognition has already been given.


United Kingdom




To be legal, all marriages must be performed by a French civil authority, i.e., an officier de l'etat civil, BEFORE any religious ceremony takes place. In practice, this means that all marriages must be performed by the mayor (mairie) or his legally authorized replacement, such as a deputy mayor (adjoint) or a city councilor (counseiller municipal), of the town in which one of the parties to be married has resided for at least forty (40) days immediately preceding the marriage. All Americans marrying in France must comply with this requirement.

OPTIONAL Religious Ceremony
A religious ceremony may be performed only AFTER (never before) the civil ceremony. The minister, priest, or rabbi performing the religious ceremony will require the certificate of civil marriage (certificant de celebration civile) as proof that the civil ceremony has taken place.

Religious / spiritual ceremonies of whatever denomination are perfectly acceptable as long as both parties are aware the ceremony does NOT change one’s marital status in Mexico or anywhere else in the world. In this case in order for the couple to be legally in their country of origin, they must be married by a justice of the peace or the civil registry when they get home.

Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic does not recognize temple sealings as legal marriages. Therefore, couples who want to be married in that temple must first marry by civil law and then go to the temple.

Place of Marriage:
Only civil marriages are legal in Austria. They may, however, be followed by religious ceremonies if desired. Civil marriages are performed by officials of the Vital Statistics Office (Standesamt) in the appropriate jurisdiction. The ceremony takes place at the Standesamt.

It used to be that a marriage in Germany was legal only if it was conducted in a registrar's ("Standesamt") office. You could have a religious ceremony later. However since January 1, 2009, couples in Germany can get married in a church wedding without having to have the civil ceremony first. However, "the new rules essentially mean Christian weddings won’t carry the same weight as civil ones. Legal experts have pointed out such couples will not have rights to inheritance or alimony, nor will they be able to take advantage of tax benefits for married people."

To be legal, all marriages must be performed by a Ecuadorian civilauthority. Religious ceremonies do not have legal validity underEcuadorian law.

Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay
Since 1886 couples must marry in the Civil Registry to be legally and lawfully married. Then they may chose to marry also in a Church but that wedding has no legal status for the nation.



Marriages in Hong Kong can take place at a marriage registry (civilceremony) and are conducted by a registrar. Civil ceremonies can alsobe conducted by a civil celebrant of marriages at other venues.Alternatively they may be held in a licensed place of worship by acompetent minister (religious ceremony). The normal procedure is tochoose either a civil or religious ceremony – both are legally binding.  The LDS Church and Hong Kong temple are recognized licensed places of marriage.


If you wish to marry in Japan, you will do so according to Japaneselaw. Marriage in Japan consists of a civil marriage registration by thecouple at a Japanese municipal government office.Only this civil registration constitutes a legal marriage in Japan.Ceremonies performed by religious or fraternal bodies in Japan, whileperhaps more meaningful for you, are not legal marriages

The Civil Code states that a civil marriage can only be contractedbetween a woman and a man, and it must be performed in the municipalitywhere either the man or the woman resides. Once the civil marriage ceremony is performed, the couple may have areligious marriage ceremony. The religious ceremony may not beperformed until the minister or priest has received the marriagecertificate issued by the Venezuelan government.