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  • Luke Krone


Are you planning on getting legally married in South Africa? Although I'm an experienced South African destination wedding planner, this article should only serve as a guide. Please consult a lawyer for legal advice around getting married in South Africa as foreigners.

Before I provide you with the requirements, I would highly recommend you read my article on the advantages and disadvantages of getting legally married in your country of residence vs. in the country of your destination wedding.

Applying for a marriage certificate in South Africa

You need to register an intention to marry with the South African Department of Home Affairs. You'll need to do this at least three months before your wedding date. You must also ensure you meet the Department of Home Affairs’ marriage requirements. For more information visit The South African Department of Home Affairs' website.

Marriage certificate

Under the South African Marriage Act, couples must receive a marriage certificate immediately after the ceremony. The type of marriage certificate depends on the status of your nationality. Marriage certificates require the signatures of two witnesses and the marriage officer.

Unabridged marriage certificates are issued to non-South African resident couples. Unabridged marriage certificates receive an apostille at the Cape Town High Court, which will enable you to register your marriage in your country of residence.

The wedding process in South Africa

  • Marriage ceremonies must have a licensed marriage officer. Examples of this include a religious minister, magistrate, or a South African Home Affairs marriage officer.

  • In South Africa weddings must take place in a religious building, public office, or private house. If there is a serious illness, the wedding can also take place inside of a hospital.

  • The service must occur in the presence of two witnesses.

  • If you plan to marry in a garden or on a beach, you may need to repeat the legal aspect of the service. The same applies to marrying in a restaurant or other building not defined by the act. However, as long as your marriage is solemnised by a competent Marriage Officer, the courts are not readily inclined to declare a marriage invalid simply because it was held in the wrong place.

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