Wedding Know - How | The legal requirements for getting married

Article Tags:  bridal couple,  bride,  bride and groom,  chapel,  save the date,  wedding,  wedding rings,  bridal couple,  bride,  bride and groom,  chapel,  save the date,  wedding,  wedding rings

Wim Vermeulen from ‘Weddings without Boundaries’ is the Eastern Cape’s representative and reverend for the non-denominational, non-judgmental The African Church of Truth. He understands the complexities of today’s weddings and civil unions and is registered with the Department of Home Affairs to conduct Section 2 and Section 5 Marriages and Civil Unions. He will also advise you of the legal requirements and documentation you will need. 

Q: How far in advance do you recommend a couple should start thinking about the more serious side of getting married, i.e. who is going to marry them and how?

A:The sooner, the better …. 

As soon as the couple have set a date they need to make contact with a marriage officer, who is, in effect, the most important person in the process as without a marriage officer there can be no legal marriage!

Q: Before you are able to marry a couple, do you meet with them, and what should they come prepared with?

A: Before we meet they would have completed and forwarded to me the required marriage registration application form from which I am able to assess their needs and expectations. Documentation which I need before their wedding date includes:es. Although not always possible, because of distance in some instances, I always try to meet with my couples on a date within a week or two before their wedding date (or earlier if they wish) so that we’re able to chat in more detail about their day and ceremony and also so that we can connect. The wedding day is the couple’s day and I’ll Iisten to what they have planned and give suggestions and advice without being prescriptive.

-       Copies of both their SA IDs, or foreign passports

-       Copies of both their witnesses’ SA IDs, or foreign passports

-       Where copies of foreign passports are submitted I will need a copy of their Temporary Visitor’s Permits which will be stamped into their passports at their port of entry into South Africa

-       International couples or partners must submit a Letter of Non-Impediment from the Home Office in their country of residence or Embassy. Nationals from Commonwealth countries do not need to submit a Letter of Non-Impediment, but will be required to submit a notarised sworn affidavit confirming that they are not currently married.

-       In instances where a South African marries a foreigner the couple will be required to attend an immigration verification interview with an official from the Immigration Section of the Dept of Home Affairs before their wedding date.

-       Where a partner has been previously married I will need either a copy of a divorce decree (just the front page with names, date and court stamp), or a death certificate.

-       3 colour ID-size photographs of each partner.

-       Should the couple be entering into an ante-nuptial contract I will need a letter of confirmation from their lawyer. If they are not entering into such a contract they will be married ‘in community of property’, by default.


Q: From an administration point of view what kind of budget should a couple put aside for their special day?

A:  I am not sure about the legal costs of marriage contracts and my quotes are dependent on distances travelled, but for a Port Elizabeth ceremony I would suggest that an amount of R5000 should safely cover these costs.

Q: What personal advice in your experience would you offer to currently engaged couples? Any specific “do’s” or “don’ts”?I am not sure about the legal costs of marriage contracts and my quotes are dependent on distances travelled, but for a Port Elizabeth ceremony I would suggest that an amount of R5000 should safely cover these costs.

A: In my almost 30-years as a marriage officer there are two things that come to mind.

1.     Don’t leave the appointment of a marriage officer for the ceremony as the last item on the ‘To Do List’, particularly if he / she is not the couple’s own pastor or minister.

2.     The couple need to think very carefully about whether or not they wish to enter into a marriage contract BEFORE their wedding date, and must speak to a lawyer if they’re uncertain. Without an ante-nuptial contract they will be married ‘In community of property’ by default. Changing a marriage contract AFTER their wedding date will be a very costly exercise.