It's been over a week since the supposed heated confrontation that transpired at the reception of Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Guidicelli's secret wedding. Many people have said their piece about the incident except for Sarah and her mom, Divine Geronimo, who was not invited to the wedding.
Matteo broke his silence on February 26, 2020, confirming that he and Sarah are now married. They decided to keep their Christian wedding intimate due to "private matters."
"A day full of pure love, honesty, and genuine emotions. Yes, we got married. Mr. and Mrs. Guidicelli," the race-car-driver-turned-actor wrote on Instagram. Matteo described the evening as perfect "until some unexpected events took place," referring to the unexpected arrival of Mommy Divine.
The newlywed stressed that he and his wife both feel "overwhelming joy, love and excitement" to have started their life together. Matteo also declared his promise to stand up and protect Sarah, just as his father did for their family.
"We are happy, we are blessed, and we are husband and wife!" Matteo said, adding that "with God's grace and love, everything will heal and fall into place."
Is Sarah and Matteo's wedding valid and legally binding?
Sarah and Matteo tied the knot in a Christian wedding ceremony held at the Victory Church, in The Fort, Bonifacio Global City, in Taguig on the evening of February 20, 2020. Earlier reports referred to their union as a civil wedding, but their friend and long-time counselor Letty Fuentes said it was a Christian ceremony via an exclusive interview on TV Patrol.
Philstar.com entertainment reporter Ed de Leon raised questions on the validity of Sarah and Matteo's wedding on his column dated February 23, 2020. He cited issues on the couple's solemnizing officer and if either Sarah or Matteo were baptized in the Evangelical church, of which Victory Christian Fellowship (VCF) is associated.
According to family lawyer Atty. Nikki Jinemo, the legality of the marriage hinges on two things. First is the legal capacity of the man and woman getting married. They should be of legal age and have no legal impediments to marry (i.e., neither of the parties have an existing valid marriage to another person). Secondly, the two individuals should willingly give their consent to marry in the presence of a solemnizing officer and shouldn't be forced into marriage.
To uphold the above two requisites, the couple needs a valid marriage license and a marriage ceremony, such as civil or church wedding rites. The ceremony takes place with the presence of both marrying individuals present, a solemnizing officer with authority, and no less than two witnesses who are also of legal age.
Both Sarah and Matteo are of legal marrying age.
Sarah, 31, and Matteo, 29, are both of legal age and can marry without parental consent or advice. The Philippine Family Code states that couples should be at least age 18 to marry, and those age 25 and younger require parental consent or advice.
A valid marriage license can attest that both parties are both legally free to marry. Assuming Sarah and Matteo acquired one before they freely gave their consent to marry in the presence of the solemnizing officer, then there is no question on that aspect of the validity of their marriage.
A pastor or minister of any church or religious sect may officiate a wedding.
Church weddings are usually also legally binding or civil weddings, so long as the couple furnishes the required legal requirements mentioned above. The law states that pastors, ministers, priests, imams, or rabbis of any church or religious sect may officiate weddings that are valid and legally binding.
The law states that the solemnizing officer, if he is a pastor, minister, priest, imam, or rabbi, should also be "duly authorized by his church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general, acting within the limits of the written authority granted by his church or religious sect, and provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer's church or religious sect."
PEP.ph identified Senior Pastor Paolo Punzalan as the solemnizing officer of Sarah and Matteo's Christian wedding ceremony. A quick search for his name on the Solemnizing Officers Information System database from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that Pastor Punzalan is a registered solemnizing officer and can legally officiate weddings anywhere in the country.
Sarah and Matteo wouldn't choose to be married by a pastor in a Christian ceremony if they aren't part of their group. Also, Mommy Divine may not be invited, but it is likely there were at least two witnesses of legal age (such as Matteo's family and Fuentes).