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As it is, both the US and the UK will allow a couple to undergo either a civil or religious wedding, to have their union recognized by the state. But in the good part of continental Europe, the civil marriage is REQUIRED BY LAW, meaning that a religious weddin will not suffice.
It is the procurement of a marriage license, issued by the state, which makes any marriage in the United States legally binding. You cannot just have a religious ceremony to have your marriage recognized by the state... you need the marriage license (which is the civil component).
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