Baha’i marriage without civil marriage

Jun 2018
Portland, Oregon
Good morning,

I am in need of education and advice on Bahá’í marriage laws. I am dating a Bahá’í man and I am learning about Bahá’í faith. My parents are deceased and his parents are approving of the marriage. I would like to know if we are able to have a Bahá’í marriage without having the (legal) civil marriage at this time. If so, what are the steps and is there a timeframe we would need to be aware of to perform the civil marriage? Can someone help me with the answer to these questions? We live in Oregon.

Thank you!
Aug 2010
New Zealand mainly
Talk to your local Bahai marriage officiator, who should know the state's rules. Civil requirements vary, but generally the requirement is that the civil marriage and religious marriage are either the same (achieved by the state recognizing the religious marriage officiator as also a civil marriage officiator), or they must take place on the same day.
Dec 2012
Greetings Lilpokaj,

Might I firstly extend my warmest congratulations to both of you.

You can obtain clarification from telephoning the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States directly. The number can be found of their website below

We regards to contacting the Oregon Bahá’í Officer of Marriage the link is below and it also offers some supplementary material Marriage and Family Life | Portland, Oregon Bahá'í Community

Do understand that the Bahá’í marriage service only requires the couple to make a simple commitment to one another by reading a short passage from the Bahá’í Writings. It takes about tend seconds to read. The rest is down to the couples own making and this means you are free to be as creative as you choose. Even if you should need a civil wedding beforehand by law, this will not detract from your special day together and the Bahá’í Officer of Marriage can help to make this process as easy as possible for both of you.

There are no conventions within a Bahá’í marriage, but it is customary to ensure that the religious rights of both couples and families are suitably honoured. So it might be preferable to consider holding the wedding service in a place of worship inline with your own beliefs if you feel this might be suitable. If the Minister is amenable, it is also possible to combine the wedding service so that both are done together. I have witnessed a number of weddings like and they work very well indeed. In such a situation two Bahá’í representatives from the a Bahá’í body need to be present to witness matters, but they will happily stay in the background and allow the Minister to initiate the Bahá’í wedding vow to all those present. Naturally they need to confer with one another before the wedding service but this is a very simple matter. Do of course understand that your future husband will have wishes too and these should also be honoured. Bahá’ís are very diverse and some like the company of other Bahá’ís more than others. It is simply a matter of choice. So do not think you husband strange if he does not like the idea of too many Bahá’ís being present at the wedding. Just learn to work with him.

Relax! Bahá’í weddings are simple affairs. Just make sure that your family members and friends, if they are attending, feel welcome too. As your family and friends might not know much about the Bahá’í Faith, naturally it might be suitable to help them understand that you are not getting involved in a strange exotic movement or cult. So it is only wise to reassure them of your wellbeing. Should you wish a person to give you away this can be arranged and it can also be a good opportunity to help them see the Bahá’ís for themselves too. In essence all people judge religions by the way people within them act and behave more than anything else. Just understand that Bahá’ís are no more godly than anyone else and the more honest they are about this the more people tend to like them.

I often recommend that couples marrying in North America might like to include a picture or line drawing of the North American Bahá’í House of Worship on one page, or anything else they deem suitable and their partners religious building or special interest on another within the wedding invite. This is a very simple way to convey that both respect the rights of the other and that their friends and family are welcome to become a part of their new family too. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words

Quite often the only thing that puts people off the Bahá’í Faith when they first hear about it is the word “Bahá’í” itself. In the English language it simply means “Glory”. So with some intelligent word play it is possible to introduce it to people in such a way where they naturally feel much more at ease with it.

I hope this might help allay any fears or anxieties you might have. Should you have anymore concerns or questions please feel free to come back and ask them.