How to get married in Georgia? This question comes up quite a lot in the foreigners’ groups as people in love want to make their relationships legal. But when they check the internet – most of the information is limited, confusing, or about how to get married in Georgia USA. Frustrating Right?
Well, lucky for you Tommo and I were married in Tbilisi in 2018 and can tell you all about our experience the week we decided to elope.
Our Wedding in Tbilisi Georgia
Our story is quite an interesting one. For those who don’t already know Tommo and I met working for Princess Cruises back in 2010. Tom was a musician and I worked as an Assistant Cruise Director – basically, I made sure passengers on board had a good time.
Just like an episode of The Love Boat (yes that show was filmed onboard a Princess Cruise ship back in the ’70s) our love blossomed and we decided to leave the high seas and start a life together on land. Long story short we started the blog, travelled the world, and found ourselves one day on a Free Walking Tour in Tbilisi that happened to take us by the Public Service Hall. Designed by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas the hall is of interest because of its unique shape. It kind of looks like a mushroom and people will also refer to it as the mushroom building. We were there on Sunday and therefore it was closed to regular business but we were allowed inside where we saw a sign that said “Marriage Registrations Here’ (in English funnily enough).
After the tour, we went to lunch and both happened to wonder aloud (after a few wines and khinkali) “exactly how difficult is it to get married in Tbilisi?”
The answer is – Not Very Difficult At All! And 4 days later we found ourselves back at the Public Service Hall dressed in our finest ready to say “I Do”…. and the rest is history!
So for those of you also wanting to get hitched, here is an easy how-to get married in Georgia guide.
How To Get Married In Tbilisi Georgia – Guide for Foreigners Getting Married in Georgia.
(Disclaimer: this is a personal account of our experience getting married in Georgia. Prices and requirements may change and we hold no responsibility for the experiences of anyone else having a destination wedding in Georgia.)
What Documents Do I Need To Get Married in Georgia?
Joint written application of persons intending to get married
This can be obtained at the PSH. You will need to go to the information desk and ask for marriage registration in English and they will give you a ticket with a number and tell you which area to go get your application forms.
Ladies – when completing this paperwork at the PSH they will ask you if you wish to take your husband’s last name. It seems quite simple but I warn you to think carefully about this as following our wedding it has been a nightmare for me. In the past 2 years, its been difficult to get back to Australia to officially change my name and the cost and difficulty of doing it abroad has been a massive pain (remember it’s not just a name change – you need a new passport, drivers license, bank cards etc etc).
Also since then, we have run into sooooo many bureaucratic problems because one small part of the certificate says I said I will take my husband’s name and I haven’t. Lots of government agencies will have an issue with this if you are applying for things, like residency in Georgia, as a married couple.
Passports of both parties.
These will need to be translated into Georgian. There are many notaries in Tbilisi that can do this for you for a fee of 20 lari ($6 USD) per translation.
It is important to carefully explain your first and last name to the notary employee as this is where some serious mistakes can be made. For example, my Australian passport doesn’t state which is my first name and which is my last, it just says:
So they put my first name as Collins and last name as Meagen Anne. It wasn’t until we took the documents to the PSH (Public Service Hall) that we noticed the problem and had to go back to the notary to get it rectified.
Identification of 2 Witnesses. 1 Female and 1 Male
For our wedding, we had 2 witnesses that were locals so we only needed to provide copies of their ID cards. But if your witnesses are foreigners they will also need to have their passports translated at the notary.
In the case of a person’s second marriage
A document certifying the termination of a previous marriage. (This will also need to be translated)
Fees For Getting Married in Tbilisi Georgia
- Marriage registration at the Public Service Hall– Free
(signing paperwork at registration desk)
- Marriage registration at the Public Service Hall with small ceremony – 50 GEL ($15 USD) (not sure if this is still an available option during covid-19)
- Marriage registration outside the building of the Public Service Hall – 170 GEL ($51 USD)
Wedding Houses Tbilisi
We were married at the chapel in the PSH but another option is to get married in a Wedding House, a place that offers a beautiful setting to have a little ceremony. One of the most popular places to book and have a destination wedding in Georgia is the Wedding House at Mtatsminda Park.
Wedding house in Mtatsminda park offers couples 2 different types of wedding package:
Package 1. 170 Gel ($51 USD) includes:
- Two bottles of champagne
- Waiter service
- Artificial flowers decoration
Package 2. 250 Gel ($75 USD) includes:
- Two bottles of champagne
- Waiter service
- Fresh rose petals
- Artificial flowers decoration
- One box Rafaelo
- Red carpet – 50 gel ($15 USD)
- Flowers arch, musicians – violinist and saxophonist – 120 Gel ($36 USD)
- Fireworks – 30 gel (one) ($9 USD)
Our Wedding in Tbilisi Georgia….continued
So, we went on the free walking tour on the Sunday. We went to the PSH to get the application forms on Monday morning (PSH opens at 9:30 am) and then had all of our documents translated on the same day across the street at one of the many notaries on Mtkvari street.
Notaries are not difficult to spot in Tbilisi just look for this sign:
Tuesday we went to the Dry Bridge Market to search for some unique wedding rings. It’s funny, Tommo asked me if I was absolutely sure I wanted to get a 2nd hand ring from the market and I just had a feeling that I did. Rather than going to a store I just knew that this would be where we’d find our perfect rings – and we absolutely did! I adore my ring and Tommo’s has Georgian ring has script engraved on his that makes our marriage in Tbilisi all the more memorable.
On the Wednesday night, we went to SMA bar, which at the time had a regular Couchsurfing meet up (I don’t think they do anymore – but still go for their tasty burgers!) and anyone we met that seemed like a really nice person – we invited to our wedding.
By Friday, with our random new friends, 2 witnesses, and us we equaled 9. I know it might sound strange but it worked for us and we ended up having a wonderful day with this group of strangers who were all so excited to celebrate our happy day.
The Big Day – Things to know in advance
- We chose to have the special festive ceremony (50 gel in 2018) which was held at the chapel located around the back of the PSH.
- The ceremony will be held in Georgian (foreign couples can not organize wedding ceremonies in English, this procedure is not allowed by government law) so you’ll need a translator to know what’s going on!
- A Glass of wine for you and your witnesses is provided as part of the package – yay Georgia!
- You are expected to do a dance to finalize the ceremony. We had NO IDEA that this was a thing and we had to pull something out of thin air. Luckily we had done some salsa classes when we lived in Merida Mexico, so we salsa danced into life as man and wife to a Spanish version of Michael Bolton’s classic ballad – How Am I Supposed To Live With Out You (Como He de Vivir) sung by Louis Enrique…..take a listen it’s a great track!
- Once you have your wedding certificate it’s a good idea to head back to the notary (after your celebratory hangovers have worn off) and get your certificate translated into English and apostlized. The official statement is that the certificate should be translated at the Public Service Hall and the price is 60 Gel ($18 USD). The document is prepared after 8 working days. BUT, I think we just went to the notary across the street from the PSH and had them do it, it took maybe 30 minutes, and we haven’t had any problems using it as an official document. (This is just our experience and we take no responsibility if this is not the case for anyone reading this article)
Tbilisi Wedding Photography.
Even though we eloped with 4 days’ notice, we knew that we wanted to hire a photographer in Tbilisi so that we could have some beautiful photos. I found an amazing website called mywed.com that has a directory of the best wedding photographers in Georgia and around the world.
On the website, you can choose your location, the average price you’d like to pay, and the language that the photographer speaks. So it’s an easy way to find a wedding photographer that speaks English in Tbilisi. The most important thing the website offers is a selection of the photographers’ portfolio photos to peruse so you can choose a photographer that suits your own personal style and aesthetic and get the perfect shots for your wedding in Georgia.
We hired Loseb Mamniashvili as our wedding photographer in Tbilisi and OMG he did an amazing job! Great guy, beautiful photos, and fast delivery of the final edited images as well.
At the end of the day with translations, outfits, hair and make-up, rings, taxis, a wedding photographer and we shouted all of our guests to lunch as well, the entire wedding came to $713 USD!!!
Did you know that the average wedding today in the United States costs $33,900 USD – just think of what you can do with all that money you save AND by getting married in Georgia you also have the privilege of tying the knot in one of the most beautiful and hospitable countries we’ve ever visited……that’s why a year after we got married in Tbilisi, we decided to move here permanently.
And here we are today! Living in Tbilisi – with a baby…..but that story is for another time.