My Unconventional Marriage In Colombia: Celebrating Marriage Across Borders

In this guest post from Daniel Arthur, he recounts his marriage to a Colombian and the process for a gay couple to get married in Colombia. Here is their story…

In September 2017, I met my lifelong partner in the most unconventional way. We met online through a language-learning mobile app called Tandem.

I suppose it isn’t unconventional to meet someone online, especially in these times! Many successful couples have met online, formed an immediate connection, and subsequently married four years later.

We took the conservative approach to marriage in the beginning. About the three-year mark in our relationship, we contemplated marriage. We decided to delay it to allow us to complete our academic endeavors. I was finishing my Master’s while my partner was completing his Bachelor’s.

What Made Our Marriage “Unconventional”?

View of Medellin Colombia cityscape with blue sky and a few white clouds.Two compelling reasons come to mind. We are a same-sex couple who are married and living together in Medellín, Colombia, and we successfully married during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

The uncertainty of the pandemic made us ever more cautious, nervous, and anxious. Our primary concern was how potential notarías would treat us or if they would even perform the marriage.

While we are a confident and loving gay couple, we were mindful that marrying in a predominantly conservative and Catholic country could inevitably present challenges.

Planning, Logistics, and Documents

Colombia has no national standards and guidelines for marriage. The notaría, religious minister, or priest has sole discretion in determining the requirements and what documents they accept. All couples, both same-sex and heterosexual, face this challenge, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parties.

We married in my partner’s hometown of Barranquilla. It wasn’t our first choice (we wanted to marry in Medellín), but having contacted several notarías in Medellín, all of them referred us back to a notaría in my partner’s birthplace.

After researching, calling around, and gathering information, we chose Notaría Primera de Barranquilla. He was the only notaría in the city who met our timeline requirements and was willing to marry a same-sex couple.

We met with his staff in July 2021, where they collected our documents, explained the process, and set our date.

Our notaría required we meet the following requirements and provide the following documents:

  1. Provide a photocopy of my U.S. Passport data page with six months of validity remaining.
  2. Provide a certified copy of my U.S. Birth Certificate from the State of California apostilled within three months of our marriage date, accompanied by a Spanish translation. The translation was required to be done by a Colombian translator residing in Colombia.
  3. Provide a Single Status Affidavit issued from the State of Florida apostilled within three months of our marriage date, accompanied by a Spanish translation. The translation was required to be done by a Colombian translator residing in Colombia.
  4. Provide a notarized copy of my Colombian partner’s Cédula de Ciudadanía (national I.D. card)
  5. Provide a notarized long-form copy of my partner’s Registro de Nacimiento (birth certificate) issued within three months of our marriage date. Note: Colombian Registro de Nacimiento comes in long and short form. Notariás require an extended long-form for marriage.

In addition to submitting the required documents, we had to complete a marriage license application, pay a fee of approximately 200,000 COP, supply our fingerprints, and have our photo taken at the office.

Our Wedding Day

View of Barranquilla Colombia cityscape at sunset.

The day began like any other. We awoke to blue skies and a pleasant day in Barranquilla. The weather was perfect — not too hot, not too cold, no rain, and no humidity.

Notarías in Colombia tend to designate one day a week for marriages & ceremonies. Our ceremony was on a Saturday. We were the first couple on his schedule at 10 a.m. We arrived about ten minutes before the scheduled time.

Due to the pandemic, the notaría limited us to four individuals who could attend. We were told in advance by the notaría of this política (policy). We had two of our attendees crank open their iPhones. They streamed our wedding ceremony live on WhatsApp and FaceTime for the rest of our friends and relatives to watch.

Civil ceremonies in Colombia are very similar to those in the U.S. The notaría introduces the couple to the attendees, the couple takes an oath, and finally, vows taken by the couple. The ceremony was less than an hour in length.

After the ceremony, we went to brunch with our guests at a local cafe near the notaría’s office. We feasted on a wine, cheese, and meat platter as our entrada (appetizer). The main course consisted of eggs, bacon, french toast, pancakes, waffles, and fruit. We were “stuffed” and “satisfied” afterward!

Final Thoughts…

We were glad we decided to get married when we did. It was never our intention to have an extravagant wedding. We promised to keep our budget to within $5,000 or less. The COVID precautions and limitations in place helped us achieve this objective, with both of us having large families.

View of El Poblado Medellin Colombia cityscape.Although we would spend one more year apart (my lease in Orlando expired the following November), the one-year gap gave us plenty of time to plan our relocation to Medellín.

As of November 2022, we reside full-time in Medellín in barrio Laureles and couldn’t be happier.

You can read about my transition from Orlando to Medellín, living abroad for the first time, and find out more about me by visiting my Medium page by clicking here.

I’m Daniel, an “unconventional” living in Medellín, Colombia, with my Colombian partner. I was born and raised in Southern California. I have a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, Long Beach (1995) and a Master of Science in Higher Education from the University of Miami (2000). I am a former “corporate worker” with 25+ years of experience in finance, banking, wealth planning, and tax.

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