Cubans and Marriage: The Different Aspects of Getting Married in Cuba. Cuba is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean and has been a huge tourist destination and the place for destination weddings. This tropical paradise mixed with the Latin flavor of the islands is an attractive lure for tourists. Prior to 1959, the island was a hotbed for travelers because of the warm beaches and the casinos built by mobsters from the United States. Now travel in and out of Cuba can be difficult, especially for Cubans. Of the many restrictions put in place on the Cuban population, getting married is surprisingly easy.Cuba has no official religion and religious demonstrations are often prohibited. So, marriage on the island is more a civil ceremony. However, there are many Catholics in Cuba. There was a rise in Catholic popularity after a rare visit from Pope John Paul II in 1998. Private ceremonies may utilize some of these traditions and beliefs in their weddings. In the earliest period of the Revolution, the government did its best to honor many “common law” couples and encouraged marriages in general.Outside of the more rural areas, like Havana, marriage has always followed more the regional customs of the area than any religious or civil requirements. This was often because it was difficult to get a hold of a priest or government official for these ceremonies.It is so easy to get married in Cuba that even couples finding it difficult to get married elsewhere are accepted here. Interracial marriage and marriage between various diverse peoples is common here. There is a high level of respect for the gay and lesbian community in Cuba. The country is even considering passing a law legalizing gay marriages.Marriage was not always so easy in Cuba. Historically the 1800s brought many changes to the Cuban population, its racial make-up, and rules regarding marriage between races. Due to the country’s sugarcane plantations, the use of African slaves became a standard. When this boom occurred, there was a rush to import as many slaves as possible. Estimates say that over 400,000 slaves were brought over to Cuba. Over 40% of the Cuban population was African at this point. The country had a feel similar to a caste system mainly dictated by ethnicity. The three main groups were whites (many Spanish and American), Free People of color, and slaves.This begat a movement to change the racial feel of Cuba because of concerns over the rise of an African-Cuban majority. There was also a shortage of women in general, especially white women, causing rules to go into place over who could get married to whom. Many factors went into the decision of whether an interracial couple could be wed including ethnic background, reputation of family, whether the bride was a virgin, and financial status. There was a couple of movements going on as the white population did their best to ensure that their children did not marry into the African race, and the darker skinned parents would push for their daughters to marry lighter colored men to raise their social status. The laws in place made interracial marriage difficult but these wedded unions did occur.Even though marriage is easy to come by in Cuba, the country does experience divorce. Many critics tend to point fingers at the country’s political and social system as the culprit. Others argue that divorce is high everywhere. There is also the idea the raising the legal rights of women has caused additional strain on marriage as men are resentful and women are finding it difficult to balance work, family, and personal responsibilities. There are those that cite that cultural and language differences are a culprit as well. Poor housing, low salaries, financial hardship, and the machoness of many Cuban males are all contributing factors to stress in married life.Some critics point to a problem with scams revolving around getting married. Since it is so difficult for Cuba residents to leave the country it has been suggested many are looking for a foreign marriage as their ticket elsewhere. The argument is that Cubans can be very charming and that the sex appeal of the Latin culture is well known. That some will use these wiles to get a tourist to fall in love them. And that there is even a term for this, “Te Quiero Mucho”. It is the ‘I love you very much’ game and that it is common.A typical wedding ceremony is Cuban is over quickly. However, the reception is a long, fiesta type party. Even the procession to and from the ceremony is done up with lots of color and pizzazz. The entire wedding party does a procession with the couple both to the official nuptials and back to the reception. A traditional wedding cake is common. There is Latin music and dancing including a money dance where the men each dance with the bride and pin money to her gown. The intent is to help the new couple pay for the honeymoon. The newlyweds receive gifts and also distribute favors to their guests as reminders of the occasion. The large bulk of the expense of a Cuban wedding goes to the procession and the cake respectively. Weddings can be tricky during the summer months due to occasional rain and hurricanes.The sad truth is that marriage in Cuba is often affected by the political and social climate of the times. Presently, getting married may be simple for those who can visit the country, but it was not always so easy. Also, those looking to get married in a tropical destination may not find it easy to get through the laws and red tape regulating marriages.