Marriage Officer Q&A

Picking a minister to officiate your wedding ceremony is no small task. Apart from finding the right individual who suits both your personalities and tastes, you probably have a couple of questions too regarding the process and paperwork. Do not fear, it is not as complicated as you might think!

We have asked Andred from I Do Weddings to answer some of the most common questions he gets from couples.

Featured image by Catherine Mac

Photo by Justin and Simone Photography

Can we have someone else (a friend or family member) perform the ceremony?

“Absolutely yes. You can have anybody take part in any way that you wish. The Marriage Officer will need to conduct the legal side of the ceremony and the signing of the register.”

Do our documents have to be certified?

“South African documents do not need to be certified. All foreign documents must be Apostilled.”

If our documents are not in English, do we need to have them translated?

“Yes, you will need to do this at your own expense.”

Will we be married under South African Marriage Law?

“You will be married under the marriage law of the country in which the man is a permanent resident.”

What about Ante-Nuptial contracts?

“If you wish to be married with an Ante-Nuptial agreement, you need to have a lawyer draw this up prior to the date of the wedding.”

Photo by Justin and Simone Photography

Will we receive our Marriage Certificate?

“Your Abridged certificate is issued immediately on the day of the ceremony. Once the marriage has been registered at Home Affairs you will receive a copy of the Marriage Register by post.”

Will our marriage be legally recognized in other countries?

“Yes. South African marriages are recognized in most countries around the world. We will provide all the necessary certificates and documents that you will need on request.”

Do we have to attend pre-marital counseling sessions?

“No. This is not required. However, we can refer you to an excellent counselor if you require any assistance.”

Do we need witnesses and who can witness them?

“Yes, you need 2 witnesses. Witnesses can be anybody over the age of 16 years and who must produce a copy of their ID or Passport. They can be family members or friends.”

Do we have to say vows?

“A verbal consent to the marriage is required. Personal vows are encouraged and can be discussed with your Marriage Officer.”

Photo by ZaraZoo Photography

Do one or both of us need to be South African citizens?

“No. Anybody can be married in South Africa as long as you provide the necessary documentation.”

Do I need a marriage license?

“No. Generally this is no longer required in South Africa. If you are from a country that does require a marriage license eg. Sweden, please obtain this prior to your wedding. For foreigners marrying South African citizens, it is recommended that you arrive at least 10 days before the wedding as there will be interview requirements at Home Affairs.”

What certificates are issued?

Abridged Marriage Certificate

“This is issued to you on the day of your wedding by your marriage officer, it is your legal, valid, official marriage certificate.  (This certificate is only really valid and recognized in South Africa).”

Marriage Register

“The marriage register which you sign on the day of your wedding is completed in triplicate.  Your marriage officer will submit your registration and supporting documents to Home Affairs for registration within a week of your wedding.  Home Affairs will stamp and sign the marriage register and the second copy will be mailed to you as proof of registration.  In many countries, this is sufficient to prove your SA marriage.”

Unabridged Marriage Certificate

“Some countries require that you produce an Unabridged Marriage Certificate issued by SA Home Affairs.

As of 1 December 2016, we can no longer apply for this on your behalf. A couple has to apply for their Unabridged Marriage Certificate in person at any SA Home Affairs office.  At this stage, the process takes between 8 and 10 weeks to produce the certificate, so it is vital that if you are leaving the country you give someone permission in writing to collect this on your behalf when it is processed.

Alternatively, you can apply for your Unabridged Marriage Certificate at a SA Embassy or Consulate in your own country.”