So, you’re getting married! Yay!
Venue – Check
Dress – Check
DJ – Check
Caterer – Check
Stationary – Check
Favours – Check
1100 Hand folded origami cranes – Check
Good job! You’re super-efficient and have everything under control. There’s just one ESSENTIAL thing that’s missing (And when we say essential we mean that without this you will not be married, so keep reading!)
Today we’re talking about the formalities. The crux and bottom line of what the wedding day is all about.
The actual ‘getting married’ part.
So, whether you are getting married in a church, at the Home Affairs office or in court, you’ll need to do a few things and get a few documents together to ensure that everything is legit.
Here’s what you’ll need for a valid marriage:
- Make sure that you are legally allowed to marry. This means that you are the right age to marry which is 18 years old for both men and women (if you would like to get married without parental consent). Also, you need to not already be married (unless you are getting married under customary law. What’s marriage under customary law you ask? Don’t worry, we have an article on this coming up next month). Lastly, you can not be related to your betrothed too closely. In short, first cousins can legally marry but anything closer than that is off limits. This includes marrying your uncle or aunt.If you’re not sure what your marital status is (perhaps you were married previously or you suspect identity theft) you can check this pretty easily through a facility has been built for this purpose. All you need to do is SMS the number 32551 with the letter M followed by your ID number (example: M 8501010050080) and you will receive an SMS confirming your current marital status. This is also a great way to determine whether your new marriage has been captured to the Home Affairs system.
- Get your ante-nuptial contract drafted by a lawyer if you would like to be married out of community of property or subject to the accrual system (Are these terms foreign to you? We’ve also got an article on ante-nuptial contracts coming up soon).
- You will need two competent witnesses to be present at your wedding ceremony. A competent witness is a person who is over 16 years of age and is mentally capable of appreciating what he/she is bearing witness to.
- Valid South African ID book for South African citizens or, if either bride or groom is a foreign national, a valid passport as well as a completed Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage form.
- A copy of the divorce order if either the bride or groom has been previously married
- A copy of the death certificate if either the bride or the groom has been widowed
Okay, you’ve got the goods and all your documents are ready to go. Now what?
Once the vows have been exchanged and the marriage has been solemnised (it’s official yay!) your two witnesses and the marriage officer will sign the register. The marriage officer will then issue you with a handwritten marriage certificate for free.
The marriage officer will submit the marriage register to the nearest Home Affairs office so that the details can be recorded into the National Population Registry (basically so that all the important people – the state – know that you’re married).
You can also apply for copies of your abridged certificate or an unabridged certificate at your local Home Affairs office (or consulate/embassy if you are overseas) for a fee.
NOTE: It is totally your responsibility to have your ID book/card, drivers licence and any other official documentation changed to your new surname. This is not something that happens automatically so bear this in mind and maybe treat yourself to the latest celebrity gossip magazine (if that’s your thing) so that you have something to read while you’re waiting in the loooooong queue at Home Affairs.
If you have any further questions please drop us a line or leave a comment! We’ve got 3 more blog posts coming up that deal with questions on legalities and formalities around marriage and we’d love to know if there is anything specific you’d like to learn about!
Information sourced from: