From day one my husband and I knew that we never wanted a traditional white wedding, and neither of us are particularly religious, so a ceremony in a church was out of the question. As soon as we started planning we realised that our idea of an unconventional and non-traditional wedding would end up costing more than a traditional wedding. It simply wasn’t “us” and the most important day of your life should not be compromised because of a budget.
There we were, engaged and in a long-distance relationship, and it made perfect sense to get married at Home Affairs. To my surprise, the process was incredibly straightforward. If you want to get married at the Department of Home Affairs, this is what you have to do:
Photos by: Ashiq J Photography
Getting Married at Home Affairs in 5 Easy Steps:
Step 1: Go to your local Home Affairs office (we went to the Barack Street branch in Cape Town) and request to make an appointment. You will need your ID, your partner’s ID number, and a preferred date. You will receive a slip with your confirmed appointment.
Step 2: On the day that you are to get married, arrive 30 min ahead of your appointment. The process requires the signature of two witnesses, but no more than 6 guests are allowed in the proceedings. Make sure both parties, as well as the two witnesses, have their ID documents with them.
Step 3: Get married! The official will escort your party to a private ceremony room, talk you through all the legalities. They’ll take your signatures and fingerprints. Some officiators will allocate time for the exchange of rings and vows, if you require it.
Step 4: You will receive a marriage certificate, free of charge (this is called form BI-27), and the officiator will register the marriage on the National Registry. Should you require an additional or abridged marriage certificate, you can request one from Home Affairs (by filling in form BI-130). The first abridged certificate is free of charge, with additional copies costing R75.
Step 5: Celebrate! You are legally married!
It is still your wedding day – make it special!
- Just because it’s at Home Affairs, it doesn’t mean it has to be casual. We still got dressed up; me in a black dress and coat, my husband in a black suit and tie.
- You can still add some bridal flair to your day. I had a bouquet and boutonniere made for us from my favourite florists in Cape Town, Lush.
- You can still exchange rings during the ceremony.
- It’s a day you want to remember forever so feel free to have photos taken. We asked a photographer to take some photos of us during and after the ceremony. The East City streets made the perfect backdrop!
- You can still share the special day with friends and family. Our parents and siblings were in attendance to bear witness to our marriage, and afterwards, we went for a champagne brunch at The Raptor Room restaurant.
- Just because it’s not traditional, doesn’t mean you have to skip the honeymoon. Right after our brunch, we left on a 4-day honeymoon, deep in the cold Riviersonderend Mountain range where we exchanged vows and promises in life and love.
There are no rules, no prescribed itinerary and no standard procedure when it comes to a wedding. Our day was lovely, calm and stress-free, and the officiator was such a kind spirit, that you completely forget you’re in an office in a government building. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Some other details to bear in mind:
- Marriages in South Africa are automatically in community of property, so make sure you consult a lawyer for a prenuptial agreement if you are so inclined.
- If any of the persons getting married are divorced, the final decree of divorce should be brought along.
- The same goes for death certificates, if one of the persons getting married is widowed.
- Some officials will not ask the bride whether she wants to take her husband’s surname. Make sure to mention this to the officiator if she wishes to keep her maiden name.