Everything you need to know about marriage in Anguilla

4 Sep 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Anguilla 01

Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the eastern Caribbean, famous for its long sandy stretches, coral reefs, and beaches. Anguilla is popularly referred to as one of the most romantic wedding destinations in the world. Both Anguillans and foreigners are allowed to perform different types of marriages in the territory. The most common ways in which marriages are solemnized are in a civil, religious, or symbolic wedding. Anguilla is a culturally diverse country, and there are unique customs and traditions from various ethnic groups that are infused into religious and symbolic marriages to make the wedding day special, memorable, and complete. 

In Anguilla, both civil and religious marriages are recognized and protected by law, but symbolic marriages do not hold legal grounds. Couples can choose to have a traditional wedding ceremony or a more relaxed, beach-themed wedding. The legal requirements for getting married in Anguilla are relatively simple. Couples may consult with a wedding planner or a local wedding official to get informed on the necessary documentation that will be required. In some cases, spouses may even begin their marriage procedure by hiring a wedding planner in Anguilla before their arrival. Both civil and religious marriages involve due process that must be followed by both partners. 

Couples can perform their marriage ceremony anywhere, at any time, with symbolic weddings. This type of marriage is not guided by any rules or regulations, and it may even be held at night. Beach and park weddings are common, and most couples opt for an intimate ceremony with some family and friends that may have flown with them for the wedding. The main goal with symbolic weddings in Anguilla is for the couple to fully enjoy the beauty of the country and have a memorable wedding experience. The rest of the article will tell you more about the types of marriage in Anguilla as well as the laws and rights governing them. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages

Civil marriages in Anguilla are performed by the magistrate at the courthouse. Once a marriage is performed by a registered marriage officer in Anguilla, such a marriage will be legally binding in other parts of the world. To begin the marriage application and registration process in Anguilla, both partners will be required to visit the court registry at least two days prior to the wedding day to make an official application for the marriage license. The marriage officer will make the spouses aware of the documents that they are required to submit before they will be permitted to obtain a marriage license. Most of the paperwork required during the marriage registration is for the purpose of identifying both partners and ensuring they are who they claim to be. 

Foreigners getting married in Anguilla must be able to show they are not prohibited from getting married and have full eligibility criteria to perform a marriage in the country. The document that is usually submitted to support this claim is the certificate of no impediment to marriage. In cases where this certificate is unavailable, foreign spouses will be allowed to provide a court-sworn affidavit stating that they are currently single and have never been married. Spouses who were previously married will be required to provide certificates to show they legally terminated their previous marriages. 

During the marriage registration and ceremony, both partners will be required to provide valid witnesses, and the witnesses provided must not be related to them by blood or marriage. These witnesses must be over the age of 18, and they will be required to also provide valid means of identification alongside the couple. The official language in Anguilla is English, and all documents submitted must be in this language. If a document is obtained from a foreign country where English is not the official language, it must be translated by an accredited translator in Anguilla to the required language. Also, spouses who do not speak English may have an interpreter present during the marriage ceremony. Couples are often advised to ensure the witnesses chosen are reliable people of good legal standing. 

If the witnesses are unavailable on the wedding day, the couple may be unable to receive a marriage certificate. Marriages may only be performed by partners after they have given their free will and consent to marry. The marriage officer also has the responsibility of verifying the ages of both partners. Both partners must be at least 18 years old to get married in the country, and parental or guardian consent must be provided if a marriage will be contracted by spouses below the age of 18. After all the necessary documents are submitted, the marriage officer will confirm their legitimacy with other concerned authorities. Once everything checks out, the marriage ceremony will be conducted and a marriage certificate will be issued. With the certificate, the husband and wife will be entitled to all marriage benefits offered by the government of Anguilla. The documents that must be submitted by both partners are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid photo ID such as a national ID card or passport
  • Proof of entry may be required from foreign spouses.
  • Recently obtained copies of the birth certificates of both spouses
  • Single Status Certificate confirming that a spouse is currently single at the time of marriage
  • Divorce decree or death certificate. Either of these documents must be submitted by spouses who were previously married but are now separated or widowed.
  • Payment for stamps from the past office as well as the marriage license

Religious marriages 

The predominant religion in Anguilla is Christianity. The majority of people living in the country are Protestants and Catholics, and most marriages are performed in these churches. In Anguilla, religious marriages are also legally recognized and protected by law. Churches have religious marriage rituals that are performed during the ceremony, and it is common for Anguillan couples to organize a wedding reception after the church service has concluded. There are usually some requirements that must be met by couples who wish to be married in the Catholic Church. 

Both partners must provide certificates showing they have the freedom to marry in Anguilla. This ensures that the bride and groom are facing no legal issues that may obstruct or prevent the marriage from happening. Both partners are required to provide their confirmation papers and baptismal certificates. For the marriage to take place in the Catholic Church, at least one of the spouses must be Catholic. There is also a pre-Cana course that both partners are required to attend before their marriage. This course usually lasts for a couple of weeks and may be conducted by the priest. Generally, couples who wish to get married in a church are required to give an advance notice of 3 to 6 months.

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Marriage traditions in Anguilla

Engagement Ceremony 

Before the actual wedding ceremony takes place, there is usually an engagement ceremony in Anguillan weddings. Here, both families meet to exchange pleasantries and make arrangements for the upcoming marriage. The families may also present gift items to each other as a courtesy and a way of welcoming each other to their families.

Processional 

Church weddings in Anguilla begin with a professional. Here, the groom and his best man will enter the church first, either from the side door or through the main door. They will be followed by members of the wedding party, including the flower girls, ring bearers, and bridesmaids. The bride is usually the last to enter the church, and she is walked down the aisle by her dagger or a respected male elder in the family.

Making a Toast

During the wedding reception in Anguilla, it is common for the best man and maid of honor to share toasts in honor of the newlyweds. During this time, they say wonderful things about the couple and raise their glasses to toast them to a happy married life.

Homosexuality and same-sex sexual activities have legal status in Anguilla. However, a man or woman is not allowed to marry or be in a partnership with another person of the same gender. There are no discrimination protections offered on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Same-sex spouses face various legal challenges and are not entitled to marriage benefits or rights in Anguilla.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in Anguilla. The marriage laws in the country state that all marriages must be between a single man and a single woman. In the past, there used to be cases of polygamous marriages in the country. It was, however, only popular among the society's elite or ruling class. These days, the practice of polygamy may result in various legal challenges. Only the first marriage may be registered in Anguilla; therefore, if other partners marry someone who is already married, their marriage will be invalid.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Citizens and non-citizens of Anguilla are allowed to contract marriage provided they observe all the rules guiding the act of marriage in the country. Before marriage can take place between anyone in Anguilla, they must be able to prove their status as single. The law requires that couples be single at the time of marriage. They must either be unmarried, widowed, or divorced to be able to contract a new marriage agreement. The groom and bride must not be in any legally subsisting relationship at the time of marriage. Polygamy is prohibited in Anguilla. The groom and bride are not allowed to marry more than one spouse at the same time. Couples in Anguilla are free to choose the type of marriage they want to enter into. They have the option of choosing a religious marriage or a civil marriage. Religious marriages and civil marriages are both recognized as having legal value in Anguilla. 

Religious marriages must be conducted by an authorized minister or priest, while civil marriages must be conducted by an authorized marriage officiant. Civil marriages must be performed at the civil registry or at the couple's preferred location. The religious marriage must take place at the religious institution of the couple or at their chosen location. Anyone who wishes to be married in Anguilla must have reached the legal age for marriage, which is set at 18 years for both males and females. A person who has not reached the legal age for marriage must obtain written parental permission before marriage can take place. In the absence of parental permission, the consent of a legal guardian is applicable. The groom and bride must not be related to one another in any way. They must have no direct or indirect blood connection. The groom and bride are not allowed to marry anyone from their immediate family or extended family. 

According to marriage laws in Anguilla, the groom and bride must willingly consent to marriage. They must not be put under any form of duress or be threatened to give consent to marriage. They must be in a sound state of mind to give consent to marriage. If one of the couples is not mentally fit to contract marriage, such a marriage would be prevented from taking place. Regardless of the type of marriage contracted, both parties are required to submit valid identification to the marriage registry or religious institution to prove their identity. Anyone who is not a citizen of Anguilla but wishes to get married in the country to another foreigner or a citizen is allowed to do so. However, the foreigner must be eligible for marriage in his or her own country; otherwise, the marriage would not be allowed to take place. There must not be any legal impediment to marriage on the part of either the bride or the groom.

Rights

Both the groom and bride enjoy equal marriage rights in Anguilla. The wife enjoys as many rights in marriage as the husband does, without any restrictions. One of the rights of marriage in Anguilla is the right to work and receive equal payment for work done, as well as enjoy special benefits that are not available to unmarried persons at the place of work. Married men and women have the right to be recognized as the legal guardians of the children as well as exercise parental authority over the children when needed. The husband and wife have access to the same parental rights over the children, and these rights must not be misused nor can they be renounced. 

Couples have the right to receive respectful and fair treatment from one another at all times. Regardless of the marital regime of the property chosen by the couple, the husband and wife have the right to joint ownership of certain property. However, they both have the right to choose a marital regime, which would regulate how property is distributed in the home. The couple has the right to sign a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage. This protects the properties of couples during marriage and in the event of divorce. The husband and wife have the right to pursue educational and career ambitions without any restrictions. They both have the right to actively participate in any political and socioeconomic activities outside the home without any restrictions.

Costs

Obtaining a marriage license in Anguilla costs around US$280. This fee must be paid after the marriage license has been obtained and before marriage can take place. The couple can decide to choose either a wedding hall venue or rent a resort or a private villa for the wedding ceremony. It all depends on the couple's and their families' financial ability, their choices, and the time of year the wedding is held. 

In the wedding season, the cost of getting married is very unstable and gets very expensive. It often ranges from around $5,000 to as much as $10,000. During the rest of the year, couples may be able to contract marriage for less. The average cost of renting a wedding resort per person is around $150 for a room, excluding other additional services.

Duties 

The husband and wife have certain duties and responsibilities that must be carried out in a functional marriage. Traditionally, the husband is viewed as the head of the family and is saddled with the responsibilities of providing financially for the family, ensuring every member of the household is protected, and making important decisions, while the wife is responsible for managing the household and caring for the children. However, things have slightly changed in modern times. Equality is promoted in marriages, and the husband and wife owe equal duties and obligations to each other, their children, and the rest of the entire household at large. 

Both partners are supposed to consult each other before making important decisions affecting the whole family. Primarily, the husband has the duty of providing financially for the family and making important decisions alongside his wife. The husband must ensure the basic necessities are available to his family, including food, clothing, and shelter. Generally, the husband must take a leadership role in the family and consider his wife to be his partner in keeping things running smoothly. The wife has the responsibilities of supporting and assisting the husband, and maintaining the well-being of the family.

Conclusion 

Marriage ceremonies in Anguilla are typically colorful and beautiful. Most marriages are performed in the church, and couples often mix their customs and traditions with the religious ceremonial rites. Spouses of the same sex are not allowed to marry, either in the church or in court.

To perform a civil marriage in Anguilla, there are certain documents both partners will be required to submit. The marriage must be performed by an authorized government official, such as a magistrate or a registered minister of religion, for it to be legally binding. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Anguilla.

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