Your wedding day is a happy occasion and the emphasis is on celebrating your marriage, however - there are some legal aspects that you will have to take care of before the big day.
Preparing to get married
The actual act of getting married is not as complicated as you may think. Firstly you need to make sure that you are legally allowed to marry, comply with all the legal requirements and understand the legal consequences of a marriage.
Then you need to secure the following and you are set:
Naturally there are rules and regulations regarding who you may marry and according to law there are certain categories of people you may not:
Note: It is important to check your marital status; you can do this on the Department of Home Affairs website. Even if you have never been married there are a large number of fraudulent marriages reported to every year and it is best to rather be prepared that find out on your wedding day.
As mentioned earlier minors may only be married with consent, so if you are and/or your partner is younger than 18 you need consent from either your respective parents, legal guardian or - if neither of these can be found to grant consent (or are legally incompetent to do so) - an application may be made to a Commissioner of Child Welfare for consent to the marriage.
If your parents and/or a Commissioner of Child Welfare refuse to grant consent for your marriage, you may then apply to a judge of the High Court. The judge will not grant consent unless there is sufficient evidence that the marriage is in the interest of the minor and that prior consent has been unreasonably refused.
For boys under the age of 18 and girls under the age of 16 you may also be required to seek additional consent from the Minister of Home Affairs.
If a marriage is conducted without the legally required consent of the parents or guardian it can be declared null and void by the High Court at the request of the parents or guardian either before the minor turns 21 or within six weeks of the date on which the marriage first came to their knowledge.
On the day of the marriage a couple must present the following documents to the person officiating at the wedding:
Note: When a foreigner and South African citizen want to get married, they are required to attend an interview with an Immigration Officer at the Department of Home Affairs to obtain clearance for the marriage. This is just to prevent “marriages of convenience” to gain citizenship. The interview can only take place a few days before the wedding, but an appointment must be made.
Both witnesses along with the marriage officer must sign the marriage register; the marriage officer will then issue the parties with a handwritten marriage certificate (BI-27) - free of charge - and then submit the marriage register to the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs, where the marriage details will be recorded in the National Population Register (NPR). You should then receive your abridged certificate within 6 to 8 weeks.
Additional copies of the abridged (RAS purposes) or unabridged (overseas purposes) marriage certificate can be requested (either computer printed or handwritten) by completing form BI-130 in black ink and submitting it to the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs or to the nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad. You can additionally also request a vault copy of the register