A bride puts on her wedding dress in the dressing room of Larnaca's Civil Marriage Hall in Cyprus.
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Charbel tries on a wedding suit for his civil wedding, in GMA shop, Jal el Dib, Lebanon.
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Pamela, at her childhood home in Zakrit, Lebanon before she flies to Cyprus to marry her long term boyfriend.
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Rana on her balcony in Achriafieh, Beirut, Lebanon with her new husband Rayan. Both Civil Marriage Activists, they recently married in London civilly.
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Pamela and Charbel hug in Charbel's pattiserie workshop in Rabieh, Lebanon a few days before they fly to marry civilly in Cyprus.
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Rana, a civil marriage activist, sits in an Italian restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon as her farewell dinner with her friends the night before she leaves to London to marry civilly. "I should be free to choose if I want to get married religiously or civilly, at least give me the option".
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Pamela tries on her wedding dress her school friend has made for her in Dekwaneh, Lebanon. After being with her boyfriend for almost six years, she will marry in a civil marriage hall in Larnaca, Cyprus as civil marriage does not exist in Lebanon as religious leaders want to keep religious powers over the country.
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Charbel and Pamela kiss in their new appartment in Zakrit, Lebanon. They have been together for almost six years and are getting their new appartment ready for after their civil marriage in Larnaca, Cyprus.
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Whilst smoking a cigarette, Pamela holds her wedding rings, a few days before she is due to marry civilly in Cyprus to her long term boyfriend Charbel. The couple went to Mount Charbel, Lebanon to bless the rings by a priest.
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After both just getting married, Ali and Rania converse with another couple outside Larnaca's Civil Marriage Hall in Cyprus.
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Ali and Rania, on the beach in Larnaca, Cyprus hours after they got married in Larnaca's Civil Marriage Hall.
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A tour bus, named "Love Bus" is a tour bus around Larnaca.
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Pamela sits in her hotel room in Larnaca smoking a cigarette hours after she married her long term boyfriend civilly in Larnaca's Civil Marriage Hall.
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Pamela lies on her new husband Charbel, on their hotel bed in Larnaca, Cyprus a few hours after they got married in the civil marriage hall.
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Rock and his wife Zeina, who married three years ago in Nicosia, Cyprus, look out of their living room window in Jamhour, Lebanon, which they are building.
Lebanese couples are being photographically documented in one of the most transitional periods of their lives. Marriage. Living in Lebanon, this is a large social issue personally affecting Lebanese couples who wish to get married without religion, and are denied the right to.
Approximately 1,000 Lebanese couples fly to Cyprus each year to marry on the land where the Greek Goddess of love, Aphrodite, was born.
Only religious marriages exist in Lebanon, meaning couples from different religions and atheist cannot marry unless one of them converts. "I didn't want to leave the future of my marriage in the hands of a priest," explains Rock, who married Zeina, a primary school teacher, in Nicosia in 2008. Both the same religion, they decided to marry in Cyprus, to avoid the risk of an extremely difficult or practically impossible and expensive religious divorce. "We don't have civil marriage in Lebanon because it is a one patriarchal society, therefore religious laws favour men over women, it is a religious society and has power in social and private lives" explained Rana Khoury, Lebanese Civil Marriage activist. Marriage and divorce are regulated according to the conventions of Lebanon's 18 recognized religions. Recently married civilly in London, Rana, "decided to get married civilly because I am a secular citizen, and believe in the state of the law and believe that marriage is a contract between two individuals. It should be done here, with a government, with a state."
Many couples marry abroad alone, without their family and friends, like Pamela and Charbel from Zakrit. "We have nothing, no money at all, we took a bank loan to get married in Cyprus. We decided to get married civilly as we hate everything to do with traditions, we had bad experiences from our parents that lead us to take this decision."
One person, who preferred to be unnamed explained, "it's not only about religious power, it's to with money. They charge a lot for wedding ceremonies. If civil marriage enters Lebanon, the churches and mosques would go bankrupt".
Nadia Travel and Tourism agent, based in New Jdeideh, Lebanon, is one of the largest travel agents who cater to couples wanting to marry civilly in Cyprus. For $1,900 couples have two witnesses, flowers for the bride, visa fees, ceremony fees, round-trip ticket, one night in a five-star hotel, transportation and travel insurance, making a largely profitable business. Money which some believe could be of better use to Lebanon, "We're giving so much money to Cyprus, why can't we save it for Lebanon?", Rock says.
But there is hope that Lebanon's marriage laws will evolve, as Khoury explains,"I think civil marriage will be established in Lebanon for sure. It's the normal course of civil evolution. There's no way we're going backwards. More and more people are flying abroad. The state are stamping so many papers to legalize the papers which were done abroad, so they're going to be tired. Or they're going to wake up."
The Foto Visura Student Grant would enable me to continue this important social story, following civil marriage activists, getting closer to couples by spending more time with them and documenting their aim to get married civilly and the hurdles they have to face to reach their wedding day.
Natalie Naccache is a British-Lebanese photojournalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. With a BA Photojournalism degree from London College of Communication in 2011, her work has been featured in the Sunday Times Magazine, The National, Foto8, BBC, Greater Middle East Photo, and F2 Magazine.