Q: We have decided to get married - how do we proceed with the preparations?
1) You will need a reliable marriage officer to help you with the legal requirements and to register the marriage afterwards. A legal marriage cannot be done in any other way. Only registered officers have marriage registers and certificates. This means that it is practically impossible to get married on the spur of the moment.
2) You will need to hand over copies of certain documents and photos to your marriage officer. In addition, your thumbprint will be taken. Other personal information will be needed for the marriage register.
3) If the officer agrees to marry you, you will need a venue for the ceremony. Marriage officers often are in contact with churches or wedding venues that can be used for the purpose.
4) The legal ceremony entails that the bride and groom declare before witnesses that they intend to marry each other. Then the register has to be duly signed by the couple and witnesses.
5) Most ceremonies will also require wedding rings as part of the vows.
6) The rest of the ceremony and the celebrations afterwards is usually planned in accordance with traditions and the wishes of the couple.
Marriage officers ask a fee for their services mainly based on the time it takes them to complete the process and the costs of their transport.
Q: Do we need to have an ante-nuptial contract (ANC) to be legally married?
No, but it is preferable, as it protects the individual husband or wife against creditors and debt. If notice and proof of such a contract is not given with the registration of marriage the couple will be married "in the community of property". This, generally, cannot be changed afterwards.
Q: Do you conduct non-religious ceremonies?
Yes, the content and length of the ceremony are totally dependent on what the couple wants. The state's legal requirements are merely the set questions and statements that need to be answered and made during the ceremony. In other words, you have much freedom in planning your wedding, but it is wise to listen to the advice of professionals in the industry.
Q: One of us is not a South African citizen– can we still get married?
Yes, but this is not for certain for there are additional and strict requirements which have to be met first. As a couple, you have to have a successful interview with Foreign Affairs in Cape Town and then their written permission for the marriage before you are allowed to marry.
Q: What do you need from us?
I have to 1) determine if you qualify to get married and 2) get copies of the applicable documents specified in the marriage laws of S.A. I have to hand these in personally at Home Affairs after the wedding in order to register the wedding.
When you decide you want to make use of my services, I will send you a file via e-mail with all the info you need. We will follow this up with E-mail or SMS correspondence in order to set up a meeting where everything about the wedding is discussed, decided on and finalized.
Q: Do you recommend a rehearsal?
It is not really necessary for the whole procedure to be discussed in our meeting. But some brides want to do this and it can be arranged.
Q: Where can we marry?
The short and safe answer is Any place or venue where weddings normally take place. The idea is that it has to be open and accessible to the public and not done in secret. You can have a ceremony anywhere but to be legally married and registered you have to conduct the legal part of the wedding ceremony at a place prescribed by law. It is a modern trend to hold the wedding on one of the beautiful wine farms around us but of course much more expensive than a church or a modest place like home.
If you have any questions about weddings in S.A. you can also go to the website of Home Affairs and go to Weddings.
O: What is the difference between an abridged and an unabridged certificate and do we need either?
The marriage officer issues directly after the wedding and the signing of the marriage register a certificate and hand it to the couple (called ‘abridged marriage certificate’) but this document is only valid and recognized in the R.S.A. This is proof of your marriage and is often needed if or when you want to change your surname.
If you want valid proof of your marriage outside S.A. you have to apply for an unabridged marriage certificate at any Home Affairs branch, but you can only do so when Home Affairs Head Office in Pretoria has acknowledged registration of your marriage on their system. Takes anything from 2 - 6 weeks after I have handed in our paperwork and our application is accepted by them).
Q: We are ready to get married, what do we do now?
Before you send out invites or even book and pay for a wedding venue, please make sure that you can get married on the day you have in mind and contact me. It is my pleasure to help and guide you through this very important time in your life.
Please be beware of people who promise to marry you but are not registered as marriage officers. It is not worth taking a risk with such an important step in your life.
You want the preparation to run smoothly without unnecessary hassles or worries. Do it properly and professionally.