SA Weddings

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Getting Married in South Africa: The Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions

South Africa is a country filled with incredible wedding locations and venues – from luxe wine estates in the Cape, to rustic bush-escapes in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, to the sun soaked beaches of the East Coast.

South Africa is also one of the easiest countries to get married in – all you need is a Marriage Officer, a few witnesses and someone who wants to spend the rest of their life with you. You will also need proof of identity, by means of your South African ID, passport or other legal identification. If you don’t have any of the above, a simple affidavit will do.

However, there are many strange beliefs surrounding the legal side of things, so we’re here to debunk the most common myths about getting married in South Africa.


Do I have to get married under a roof?

After some investigation, it turns out, a marriage ceremony can take place just about anywhere but the legal part of the ceremony (usually conducted by a Marriage Officer) should take place in a venue specified by the South African Law.

This will most likely be in a church or other building used for religious services, in a public office, government office, or in a private home. Your Marriage Officer will be the best person to turn to for advice for the legal requirements at the particular venue you choose.

Can I get married at any time of day?

Yes, apparently so. There is no legal restriction in South Africa as to when a marriage ceremony can take place. If it is your heart’s desire to be married at the stroke of midnight and you can find a willing venue and Marriage Officer, choose any day of the week - 24/7 and 365

Do we need to be in the country for a specific amount of time before the wedding?

This question is often posed by those living or working abroad but getting married in South Africa. Legally, there is nothing that says you have to be in the country for a certain amount of time but if possible we’d recommend allowing a couple of days to meet your Marriage Officer and get through any legal papers before the actual ceremony.

Meeting beforehand ensures any legalities on the day run much more smoothly and will leave you with less worries about paperwork when you should be enjoying your day.

Can I keep my maiden name after getting married in South Africa?

This is the question that more and more brides are asking. After getting married in South Africa, a woman does not have to take the name of her husband. She may keep her maiden name, present surname or join her surname to that of her husbands.
Whatever you decide to do, give your Marriage Officer some notification prior to the signing of the marriage certificate.

Bonus: No application to the Department of Home Affairs is necessary if you decide to keep your name.

I am not a South African citizen. What do I need to ensure my marriage is legal?

A South African marriage is legal in just about every country in the world but it is bound by the law of whichever country the husband chooses to live in. As a non-South African, you’ll need a clear copy of your passport as well as copies of your divorce decree or death certificate of a spouse, if applicable. You’ll also need a letter of non-impediment from your Embassy or home country - basically confirmation from your home country to state that you are not currently married and are free to marry.

Do witnesses to my marriage need to be South African?

No. If your witnesses don’t hold South African ID documents, proof of identification in the form of a passport is perfectly fine – provided that they are over 16 years old.

Do I need to get a marriage license?

There is no such thing as a marriage license in South Africa - you have been watching too many American movies! A marriage certificate is the only document you’ll need if you intend to live in the country after getting married in South Africa.

How do I know if my marriage was registered in South Africa?

If you or your partner have a South African ID number, you can visit the Home Affairs website to check.

If neither of you are (or were) South African Citizens at the time of marriage, you’ll need to get in contact with the Department of Home Affairs where your marriage would have been registered.
Do you have some important insider knowledge on getting married in South Africa? Get in touch with the team at

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