Wedding Tips & Advice

Getting hitched fast in sunny South Africa (all about the South African Marriage Act)

You have popped the question, your partner said ‘yes’, and now you both want to Tie The Knot quickly and quietly – without the fuss and bother of a formal wedding.

Getting married fast in South Africa is not quite as easy as the weddings one hears about in Las Vegas, or in the little Scottish village of Gretna Green on the border with England, famous for its runaway weddings.

In South Africa there is a formal South African Marriage Act. Attached to the act are a number of rules about who can get married to whom etc. You might want to familiarise yourself with this act as, if your marriage doesn’t comply, it’s declared null and void (but we’re a fairly liberal society and one of few places where same sex marriages get the nod).

If you are both South African you will need:

  • copies of your ID, birth certificates or an affidavit BI-31
  • clear copies of divorce decrees (if one of you was married before)
  • clear copies of death certificates (if one of your former spouses has died)
  • written consent of both of your parents on form BI-31, if one of you is under 21 years of age and hasn’t been married before
  • Letter from your lawyer saying that you’ve entered into an Out of Community of Property contract (if not, your union will automatically be in Community of Property)
  • two witnesses
  • a building with open doors (if getting married in a garden, best to complete the legal part of the marriage indoors somewhere)

All that remains is to find a Marriage Officer prepared to marry you. You can marry in any location provided you are married by a magistrate, special justice of the peace, commissioner or a minister of religion.

To make it easier for you, a number of wedding venues will book the Marriage Officer for you.

Once married, your Marriage Officer will give you an abridged marriage certificate, and he will register your marriage with the Department of Home Affairs. If you want a copy of your full marriage certificate, fill in form BI-130 and submit it to Home Affairs.

(next up: Getting married fast, if one or both of you are not South Africa residents!)

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