Getting hitched in Cyprus..

I was coming back home from the beach in Jounieh, when I spotted an ad that took up the entire length of an apartment building.  The ad was for a tourism company specializing in civil marriages in Cyprus.

I didn’t manage to snap a shot of the aforementioned ad, but found a similar one on another Lebanese blog. Apparently this is nothing new!

I first came across the whole “Civil Marriage in Cyprus” thing when I was looking into vacation packages from Lebanon to Cyprus.  I always thought that the only reason people eloped was because the parents didn’t approve.  Yes, I know.  How NAIVE!  It was only when I started to learn more about Lebanon and the Middle East, that I learned people in this region, elope mostly out of necessity..I wonder if they still have huge Lebanese weddings in Cyprus, or wait to throw the wedding reception once they get back to Lebanon, or if it’s looked down upon to elope..if you know, enlighten me!

Advertisements like the one above make a mockery of the laws and traditions that forbid inter-religious marriages in Lebanon.  Admittedly I do not know all of the specifics that govern the multitude of religious sects here, but I know enough to understand that it continues to cause strife in people both young and old, as families pass down the tradition of wanting their children to marry within the confines of their religious faith.  As if that isn’t enough, there is also the added pressure of being from the same financial background and upbringing.  It seems like being in love is the last thing that is taken into consideration.  When it really should be the first.

Sometimes I wonder why people complicate their lives so much.  I have only been here for five months, and have already heard countless stories of men and women not being able to be together because of religious reasons.  It’s sad is what it is.

Anyhow, I was doing some research on the whole Civil Marriage phenomenon, and came across some brilliant Exotica ads from 2007 covering the topic of marriage.

Leo Burnett Beirut

Mixed Marriage by Exotica

Leo Burnett Beirut

Civil Marriage by Exotica

The baggage sticker on this last bouquet reads “LCA” which stands for Larnarca International Airport in Cyprus.

Brilliant!  Brilliant indeed.  I really admire Exotica’s ability to creatively explore controversial subjects through the use of flowers.  Not an easy feat.



Filed under life in Lebanon

4 responses to “Getting hitched in Cyprus..

  1. Mom

    The fact that you have had the opportunity to travel so much has “opened” your mind and allowed you to “see” that, all around the world human beings are more alike than they are different, in spite of their culture, races or religion.

  2. Youssef Chaker

    This is a topic for me if there ever were a topic!

    Some background info before I continue. I may be biased in terms of this topic, and it would only be fair to share why.

    I am the fruit of an inter-faith marriage. Parts of this story I’ve known my entire life, parts I’ve learnt recently and others I still don’t know. Here’s what I know: My father is a Maronite christian who grew up in Ashrafieh. His family didn’t have money and he actually had to work while still in high school to pay for his own education. My mother comes from a well established Shi’a family from the south, her maternal grandfather was a well known sheikh and scholar in the Shi’a faith ( Both my parents had a religious upbringing and still to this day practice and maintain their faith. But they obviously come from opposite worlds from every aspect you can think of.

    Ny mom’s two older sisters had already married christians. But they were both americans who actually converted to islam to marry my aunts. So my mom went to her father to ask him to meet my dad. Her father was hesitant at first because he had dealt with Lebanese christians before as part of his business and had found them intolerant of others and discriminating. And the timing was also very bad since it was happening in the middle of the civil war. So according to my mom, her father wasn’t worried about inter-faith marriages, or inter anything marriages, which was shown by allowing my aunts to marry who they wanted. He was, though, worried about how Lebanese people specifically deal with it, specially since some Maronites have a superiority complex! (those are my own words, btw) But my mom convinced her father to meet my dad and allow him to get a chance to show his side of things. Apparently my dad succeeded and showed my grandfather that he is an openminded individual who can appreciate other people’s faith. My dad, after finished high school, had moved to Hamra, which is predominantly a sunni area (more evident back then, but still has some signs of that till now) and had friended a mixed group. This is why I think it’s funny when people tell me “You’ve travelled and have ‘seen’ things …”, when in Lebanon, all you have to do is cross the street. Sadly, I have friends who hadn’t been to the south until I took them there, hadn’t been to Da7ieh until I took them there, and didn’t know the Ashrafiyeh area before it turned into a night life center (my dad’s childhood home was turned into a parking lot for an adjacent club).

    So, since the Lebanese constitution, still to this day, is religion based, meaning things that are not ‘allowed’ under religion are illegal, inter-faith marriages are not performed in Lebanon but recognized if they were performed legally somewhere else. Cyprus being the closest country that allows civil marriage, it is the common destination for Lebanese couples to get married if they wish for a civil marriage. It is not, though, the same thing as eloping. It’s not done in secret, or without consent (at least in most cases). It is a legal necessity for people who want to marry without one person converting to another religion. And in the case of my parents, who are both religious people, they both wanted to maintain their faith but also wanted to get married. My parents opted for a trip to the US instead of Cyprus, since my aunt lived there and they could have some sort of honeymoon there as well. Not that a honeymoon in Virginia is very appealing 😛

    In general, couples get married in Cyprus or wherever they are (France, US, etc) and get the civil marriage certificate to be able to register their marriage as legal in Lebanon. Depending on the families, some have the wedding abroad, but most have a reception in Lebanon. This is really just the same as going to city hall, getting a marriage certificate and then having a reception, skipping the walking down the aisle part and ‘you may now kiss the bride’ fiasco, and just going straight to the PARTAAAAAY.

    “Advertisements like the one above make a mockery of the laws and traditions that forbid inter-religious marriages in Lebanon.” — I don’t think so at all. The laws in Lebanon are a mockery in and of themselves. And ‘traditions that forbid inter-religious marriages’ are non-existent. In fact, I believe that Lebanon is now more conservative that it was 20 or 30 years ago. My mom’s grandfather (check the link above) was fighting for women’s rights back in the early 1900s while people now seem to want to take more of those away! I wouldn’t say that the advertisements are great. But I would argue that the system is more of a concern, starting with the mentality and the laws. The conservatism and the narrowed thinking is more of a present day phenomena than a tradition or something that is passed down (at least in my experience and my circle of family, friends and acquaintances).

    This is definitely a topic that has plagued me and that comes up in my life very frequently. My mom was very surprised when I told her that I have more trouble than anyone else being with someone because of my background. She was under the impression that I would have an easier time because I have double the opportunity being from a mixed background. But in fact that seems to cause more trouble to some people since they can not comprehend how someone can respect and marry someone else of a different religion or point of view about religion (this is true for both Lebanese and non-Lebanese people). Oh how I wish this becomes no longer an issue in this world!!!!

  3. Laurie

    I am an American citizen living in Lebanon for ten months with my husband now. We married in Cyprus because if we were married here, it would not be recognized as legal in America, and I eventually would like to return with my husband some day. 🙂

  4. amy

    I have a question I really wanted too marry my boyfriend more of eloping actually can I actually do that if he is Middle Eastern and Lebanon or do I need too have a traditional wedding

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