Everything you need to know about marriage in Barbados

20 Jul 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Barbados 01

Barbados is an island country in the southern Caribbean Sea famous for fine white sand, beautiful beaches, and botanical gardens. Over 2000 marriages are performed every year in Barbados by Barbadian nationals and foreigners from other countries. In Barbados, most families are nuclear, consisting of the father, mother, and children. According to the civil laws of the country, the husband and wife are equals, but traditionally, the husband is regarded as the head of the family, who is supported by the wife. Barbados is also a popular wedding destination, with many guests flocking there. 

The country has more than 70 miles of beautiful beachfront. Barbados is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean region, and there are no strict restrictions or discriminations against people of specific races or cultures. The major ways to get married in Barbados are civil and religious marriages; however, traditional and symbolic marriages are also quite popular. Civil and religious marriages hold legal grounds in Barbados, and anyone who has been registered and authorized by the government is allowed to act as a minister and solemnize a legally binding marriage. 

In Barbados, as in most countries in the Caribbean, common-law marriage is also legally recognized. A man and woman are entitled to some marriage benefits in the country without performing all the marriage formalities of application and registration in Barbados. As you read on, you will find out more about the types of marriages in Barbados as well as the laws and rights guiding them. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages 

A civil marriage is performed by an authorized marriage officer in the office of the ministry of home affairs at 3:30 a.m. at the civil registry. This type of marriage is legally recognized and accepted in Barbados and abroad. To begin the marriage application and registration process, spouses must make an official application for a marriage license at the Ministry of Home Affairs Office. Couples may be required to make prior arrangements with the magistrate before filing for marriage registration. This is done in order to obtain a motivation letter, which will be submitted during the application process. Applications are only accepted during the weekdays, Monday through Friday, with a daily time of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. 

There are various documents that must be submitted by spouses before they are allowed to perform a marriage in Barbados. The marriage license obtained by couples only has a three-month valid period, and couples are required to ensure they perform their official marriage ceremony within that three-month period. If couples fail to conduct their marriage within the stipulated timeframe, they will have to begin the marriage application process all over again to obtain a new marriage license in Barbados. Spouses who are related to each other are not allowed to get married in Barbados. 

The marriage officer performs verifications in a bid to confirm both spouses are entering the marriage freely and are also eligible for marriage in Barbados. There are different documents that must be provided during the marriage registration, which will be stated below in this article. The legal marriage age in Barbados is 18 years for both male and female spouses. The law allows exceptions for spouses aged 16 and 17 under special circumstances, but they must provide written parental consent. There are certain conditions that must be met by minors before they are allowed to marry in Barbados. These are stated below.

Marriage of Minors

  • If the parents of the spouse are living together, either of them may give parental consent.
  • If one of the parents is deceased, the surviving parent or guardian may give parental consent.
  • In the case of divorced parents, parental consent can only be given by the parent with legal custody of the child. If both parents have custody, then either of them or both may give consent.
  • If both parents have been deprived of the custody of such a spouse, the legal guardian will be required to give consent.
  • If both parents are deceased, the legal guardian provided by law may give consent. Such a person must have been the guardian of the spouse for at least three years before the scheduled marriage.

Documents Required 

  • Both partners must provide valid means of identification, such as a national identity card or valid passport.
  • Government-issued birth certificates must be provided by both partners.
  • Foreign spouses are required to provide their return tickets.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Either of these documents must be provided by spouses who are separated or widowed as evidence of the dissolution of the previous marriage.
  • The couple is required to provide a magistrate's letter during the marriage application.
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Religious marriages 

Barbados has a diverse culture and religion. The largest ethnic group in the country are blacks, followed by multiracial people, while the largest religious belief is Christianity, followed by people who have no religious affiliation. In Barbados, couples have the freedom to perform religious marriages that are legally binding and recognized in the country. African ancestry is predominant in Barbados, and most wedding ceremonies are performed either in a church setting or a traditional African setting, or both. 

The church has its own conditions that must be met by partners. Each church has its own unique ceremonial rites, arrangements, and conditions. Couples must make the intention of their marriage known to their pastor or priest so as to provide the documents required or show evidence that they meet all the required church criteria for the wedding ceremony to take place.

Common-law marriages

Common-law marriages are recognized in Barbados. Spouses who have been living together for a long time in a romantic relationship can enjoy most of the marriage rights and benefits available to married couples. 

In Barbados, spouses are required to have lived together for a continuous period of at least five years before filing for cohabitation. Spouses who cohabitate can also have children and share their properties. Most of the marriage benefits available to married couples are also enjoyed by cohabitating couples in Barbados.

Marriage customs and traditions in Barbados

Multiple-course meals 

In Barbadian wedding ceremonies, foods and drinks play an important role in making sure the guests are having a good time. At the wedding reception, there is a broad selection of meals available to guests. Some couples may opt for buffets, where guests are allowed to serve as much as they can eat.

Bridal dress

The bridal dress in Barbados is similar to that of other western countries. On the wedding day, the bride wears a white wedding gown, and her face is covered with a transparent veil. The veil hides her beauty until it is later revealed by her husband during the actual wedding ceremony.

Fruit cake 

Guests in Barbadian wedding ceremonies often look forward to when the cake will be served. In Barbados, traditional fruit cakes are used during weddings. The cake is usually embellished with drapes and royal icing. In some cases, the icing could include gold glitter. The cake is usually very beautiful, and at the wedding reception, it is also shared amongst the guests.

Same-sex marriages 

The status of homosexuality or same-sex sexual activity in Barbados is legal. It just recently became legal in 2022, but spouses are still not allowed to marry in Barbados. The country holds no recognition of same-sex relationships including marriages, unions and partnerships. Same-sex couples may still face discrimination in Barbados.

Polygamy in Barbados

In Barbados, a man is only allowed to be married to one woman at a time. This applies to women too. Polygyny is prohibited in the country and may result in legal consequences. Even though polygamy is not recognized in Barbados, there are still cases in rural areas where such marriages are being performed.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Barbados' marriage laws state that before marriage can take place between two people who have shown interest in one another, they must have attained the legal age for marriage, which is set at 18 years for both males and females. However, some exceptions are made to this law, whereby a minor who has not attained the legal age but is 16 years old is permitted to contract marriage provided he or she has obtained parental consent, or in the absence of parental consent, a minor who has not attained the legal age but is 16 years The law also states that both spouses must be in a stable and sound state of mind to be able to contract marriage; before marriage takes place, the couple must have a comprehensive understanding of the concept of marriage, which anyone who is not in a stable state of mind would not be able to comprehend. 

The law requires that both the husband and wife be present at the time of marriage; getting married by proxy is not allowed under the law of the country. Another important marriage law in Barbados is that marriage between related persons is prohibited. Couples are not permitted to marry anyone they share a close ancestral link with. Same-sex marriages are not recognized or allowed in Barbados. Same-sex couples are allowed to carry out their activities, but they are not allowed to contract marriage or any form of civil union in the country. The couple must obtain a marriage license after an application for notice of intended marriage has been submitted. The license is valid for three months, so couples are allowed to contract marriage within those three months. 

All parties in marriage must be single at the time of marriage; this implies that the couples must either be unmarried, divorced, or widowed before they are permitted to contract marriage. The practice of bigamy is prohibited; therefore, couples must not have any legally subsisting marriages, and they must be able to prove that there is no legal impediment to marriage. If one of the spouses has previously been married, the law requires that the couple provide proof that the marriage was dissolved by submitting a certificate of divorce or death in the case of widowhood. To get married in Barbados, couples have to be married civilly for it to be recognized as legally binding. Other forms of marriage are allowed in the country, but they do not hold any legal value.

Rights

The rights to marriage in Barbados are similar to those of many other countries in the world. The law sees husband and wife as equals. At the time of registering marriage, the couple has the right to decide on the marital regime of property that would be in effect throughout the duration of the marriage; this would then determine the rights of the couple to own, use, and dispose of property. They both have the right to sign a prenuptial agreement, which protects property in the event of divorce. 

The husband and wife have the right to inherit. At the demise of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse has the right to receive the property, estate, land, and non-land assets of the deceased spouse without any restrictions. Couples have the right to work and receive equal remuneration for their work. They both have the right to raise children according to their various religious and moral beliefs. They have the right to exercise their parental rights and authority over the children; however, these rights must not be misused, and they cannot be renounced. 

The couple have the right to initiate and finalize divorce, and at the dissolution of marriage, the husband and wife have the same right to receive custody of the children after the interests of the children have been put into consideration. The husband and wife have the right to participate in politics and government by exercising their civil rights to vote and be voted for. Couples have the right to make important decisions about their family's well-being and welfare, such as where they live.

Costs

To hold a civil ceremony at the court of law in Barbados, couples would be asked to pay a fee of $125; if the couple wished to have the ceremony outside the court premises, couples would be asked to pay a fee of $175. Couples would be asked to pay a fee of $113 to obtain a marriage license, a fee of $50 to solemnize the marriage, and $10 for the marriage certificate. 

Couples can have a budget-friendly wedding or decide to go all out. It all depends on the financial ability of the couple. The number of invited guests also determines the total cost of the wedding budget in Barbados. An average wedding in Barbados costs around $1000-$5,000.

Duties

The duties of the husband and wife in the home are flexible; they are not based on gender roles, nor does the law specifically state the duties of the husband and wife in the home. While the law does not state that the wife should obey her husband, she is required to accord him respect, which he must also accord her. The couple has a duty to be committed, faithful, respect one another's beliefs, and provide mutual assistance and support, among other things. 

The husband and wife have a duty to provide for the family; the provision of basic amenities for the family rests on the shoulders of the couple. While the duties of the husband and wife are not based on gender roles, there are still some duties that are specific to the husband and wife, such as taking care of the children, cooking, and cleaning. The husband can help by providing assistance to the wife by helping out with taking care of the children and helping with cleaning and cooking at home. The couple has a duty to be hospitable to their various family members as well as guests.

Final thoughts 

Getting married in Barbados is simple and straightforward. There are no residency requirements, and visitors and tourists may get married and quickly obtain a marriage certificate to ensure the validity of such marriages in Barbados and other countries around the world. In Barbados, rum is a fitting drink that is used in most important gatherings, and wedding ceremonies are not left out either.

During the marriage application, the marriage officer checks all the documents submitted to ensure they are legitimate and true. Spouses who are married in other countries are not allowed to perform another marriage in Barbados unless the previous one is legally terminated. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Barbados.

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