Marriage and relationship norms are changing globally. The state’s role in administrating marriages and relationship breakdown is coming under mounting stress due to the increasing manifestation of differing relationship norms. In England, the state is grappling with non-legally binding marriages and non-formal relationships, including Muslim religious-only marriages and cohabitation respectively. In Qatar, on the other hand, the state carefully regulates marriages, including, in some instances, the question of who marries whom. However, the issue of nonlegally binding “religious-only” marriages can be located in both of these very disparate legal systems. This paper explores the way in which couples in both countries are bypassing the state to enter marriages based on their individual circumstances, and the situations in which non-legally binding marriages are a conscious choice.