Everything you need to know about marriage in Bermuda

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

Bermuda is a British island territory in the North Atlantic Ocean famous for its colorful culture, pink-sand beaches, and historical heritage. Over 300 marriages are performed every year in the territory. Bermuda is popularly referred to as a place for hopeless romantics and is one of the top spots for destination weddings in the world. The territory allows both Bermudian nationals and foreigners from other countries to get married. There are different ways in which spouses can solemnize their marriage in Bermuda. Spouses can either perform a civil or religious marriage. Most Bermudians are Christians, and church marriages are all the rage in this territory. 

Couples who want to have all the flexibility in the world can easily do so in Bermuda, where symbolic and secular weddings are also popular. Only civil and religious marriages performed by registered authorities or officiants are legally binding on the couple; however, this does not preclude the couple from considering other types of weddings. In fact, couples can have more than one wedding ceremony, as the most important thing is to obtain a marriage license and certificate. Once these documents are obtained, couples will be recognized as married under the law and may enjoy the marriage rights and benefits available to married couples in the territory. Both spouses must be at least 18 years old to marry in Bermuda. 

This law applies to both Bermudans and foreigners in the country. The only exception allowed is for spouses aged 16 or 17 to get married; however, there must be parental consent for this to happen. The marriage age in Bermuda is one of the most important criteria both spouses must meet. Many couples around the world are able to kill two birds with one stone in their relationship. The reason for this is so that couples can have their wedding and honeymoon in the same country. You can save time and money while having the best wedding experience in the territory. As you read on, you will find out more about the types of marriages in Bermuda.

Civil marriages 

In Bermuda, civil marriages are performed by the Registrar General at the Registry General's PM and PM offices. This type of marriage is legally binding and recognized in Bermuda as well as other territories and countries all over the world. Weekday civil marriages can be performed between the hours of a.m. and 4 p.m., but weekends have a different schedule. On weekends, civil marriages are only performed during the hours of 10am to 12pm. Performing a civil marriage in Bermuda attracts fees, and spouses are required to make an intention of marriage at least a week before the scheduled wedding date. This is to ensure the registrar and registry general office are booked for the couple. 

For weddings performed during the week, the registry general staff may serve as witnesses during the ceremony; couples who wish to perform their marriage ceremony on the weekend are required to provide their own witnesses. To begin the marriage application process, partners are required to obtain a notice of intended marriage, regarded as Form A, through the Government of Bermuda website. In some cases, they can obtain this form at the registrar general's office. There are various documents that must be submitted by spouses during the marriage registration, and it is easier for these documents to have been recently obtained. This will ensure smooth verification checks and prevent any delays from occurring. 

After the form is filled out, both spouses are required to attach all required documents that prove they are free and eligible for marriage and submit it to the registry general. The notice of intended marriage form can be signed either in the presence of a notary public or a staff member at the registry general office. After the payment of the required application fee, the registry general administrator verifies the application. A notice of marriage is published in the official gazette twice. After this is done, couples will have to undergo a waiting period of 15 days before they are issued a marriage license. The license issued will have a validity period of nine months, during which the marriage must happen. 

A Particulars of Marriage, Form F, must be submitted to the registrar general within 7 days of performing the marriage. The form must include all the necessary details required to register the marriage in Bermuda. Once the registry general receives the particulars of marriage, couples will be able to obtain their marriage certificate within a period of 10 days of the receipt of the Particulars of Marriage, Form F. Both spouses must be at least 18 years old to get married civilly. There are exceptions for 16- and 17-year-olds who are accompanied by parental consent. Before a civil marriage is performed, the registrar ensures that both spouses are entering the marriage as a result of their own free will and consent. Forced marriages are illegal. The documents that must be submitted during the marriage application and registration are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • Both spouses must submit a completed notice of intended marriage, Form A.
  • A valid means of identification (National ID or valid passport)
  • Certificate of freedom to marry Foreign spouses may obtain this from concerned authorities in their home country.
  • Government-issued birth certificates
  • Two witnesses must be provided by spouses getting married on a weekend.
  • A valid marriage license
  • Divorce or death certificate. Previously married spouses are required to submit either of these documents.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are legally binding in Bermuda. This type of marriage is performed by a registered marriage officer and takes place in a religious place of worship. Bermuda is dominated by Christians, and most marriages are performed in the church. The three largest denominations are the Protestant Church, the Anglican Church, and the Roman Catholic Church. Couples under other Christian faiths such as the Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, etc. have the freedom to choose an outdoor location for their wedding ceremony; the Catholic Church does not allow this.

All Catholic weddings must be performed in the church. Catholics who either do not reside in Bermuda or are getting married to a non-Bermudan are not allowed to perform marriages in the Catholic Church. Each church has its own criteria that must be met by spouses, and although there are several denominations in the territory, the Catholic Church still has the strictest marriage rules. Divorced people can also not be married in Roman Catholic churches in Bermuda. Divorced spouses who wish to perform a Christian marriage may do so in other denominations.

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Marriage traditions in Bermuda

Thursday Weddings 

In Bermuda, it is customary for marriages to take place on Thursdays. In most other places in the world, marriages are scheduled for weekends, but this is not the case in Bermuda. Weddings are performed on Thursdays, when people can work for a short period of time and still make enough time to attend the wedding ceremony.

Walking through a moongate

Moon-gates have been a common marriage ritual in Bermuda for a very long time, and they are still important in the mirage rituals of current marriages. The husband and wife must walk through a moongate while holding hands. This symbolizes good luck and happiness in the marriage.

Gold and silver leaf cakes

In Bermuda weddings, there is a unique way of presenting the bridal cake. In most cases, the cake is a white or silver fruit cake with three tiers. This cake is then covered with silver leaves as a symbol of purity, growth, and fruitfulness. The groom’s cake is gold in color and signifies wealth and prosperity.

Same-sex marriages 

In Bermuda, same-sex marriages are prohibited. Marriage between two people of the same sex was legalized in 2017, but it was later abolished that same year. Homosexuality and same-sex sexual activities have legal grounds; however, couples, often of the same sex, are not allowed to get married to each other in a civil or religious ceremony.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in Bermuda. A marriage can only take place between a single man and a single woman. The country is also dominated by Christians, and under this religion, polygamous marriages are not allowed. All marriages in Bermuda must be monogamous, and previously married spouses must ensure their previous marriage was legally terminated before entering a new one.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

The laws of marriage in Bermuda state that before a couple can get married, they must be single (unmarried, divorced, or widowed). The law does not allow the practice of bigamy; therefore, intending couples must not be in any existing marriage. According to the law, couples who wish to be married but have been married in the past are required to submit an original certificate of divorce or a death certificate to prove that the marriage has been dissolved before the marriage can take place. The legal age for marriage in Bermuda is set according to the law at 18 years for both males and females. Marriage exceptions for minors who are aged 16–17 years are allowed provided they have obtained parental permission. In the absence of such permission, permission from a legal guardian is also considered to be valid. 

The law allows couples to contract both civil and religious marriages, as they are both recognized as having legal value in the country. Many couples in Bermuda decide to celebrate both religious and civil weddings, which are both recognized under the law. Civil marriages must be conducted at the civil registry in the presence of the civil registrar, and religious marriages must be conducted at the religious institution of the couple and must be conducted by an authorized priest or minister. Any marriage certificate obtained in Bermuda is considered valid in other countries across the world. According to the law in Bermuda, polygamous marriages are not allowed in the country. Men and women are not allowed to marry more than one spouse at a time; marriage must only be between one man and one woman. 

Therefore, while the law allows same-sex activities in the country, it does not recognize marriages between persons of the same sex because, according to the law, marriage must only be between heterosexual couples. Foreigners who wish to be married in Bermuda must be permitted to do so from their various home countries, and couples must be eligible for marriage before they can get married. According to the law, consent to marriage must be obtained from the bride and groom before they are allowed to continue with the marriage. Forcefully obtaining consent or using violence and threats to contract marriage is not allowed, and any marriage contracted through this means is considered void.

Rights

After the laws of marriage have been fulfilled and marriage has been contracted, the groom and bride begin to exercise the various rights that are equally available to both of them in marriage. The husband and wife have the right to decide on the domicile residence of the family, and they both share the right to make influential decisions about the family's wellbeing. The bride and groom have equal rights to fair treatment in the home and even at the workplace. Couples should not be discriminated against due to their marital status at the workplace; they have the right to receive equal remuneration for work done. And in the home, there should not be the use of force or violence while communicating one's opinion, as doing this would lead to a violation of the right to fair treatment. 

The husband and wife have the right to decide on the common family name; it could either be chosen from the husband's family name or the wife's family name, or a combination of both names with a hyphen. They also both have the same right to be recognized as the legal guardians of the children in the home. Once couples start having children, the husband and wife are both recognized as the legal guardians of the children, taking care of them and making important decisions on their behalf until they are of legal age. The groom and bride also have the right to exercise parental authority over the children when necessary. In cases of medical emergencies, the couple has the right to make each other their next of kin to make decisions on their behalf.

Just like every other right, the husband and wife have the same right to own, use, and dispose of property as they wish. They have the right to own property either individually or jointly; it all depends on the marital regime of property agreed on at the time of marriage registration. Spouses have the right to participate in politics and government as well as any socioeconomic activity they wish to; they have the right to vote and be voted for; therefore, they can occupy any government office without any restrictions. Under the law, a husband and wife have the same right to inherit. In the event of the death of one of the spouses, the surviving husband or wife is entitled to the property, land, and non-land assets of the deceased spouse.

Costs

The cost of getting married civilly in Bermuda is estimated to be around 868 BMD, which is divided into two parts: the fee that must be paid alongside the form for notice of intended marriage, which is 418 BMD, and the fee for the location at which the marriage is to take place, which is 450 BMD. The cost of hosting a wedding in Bermuda ranges from around $3000 to as much as $10,000, depending on the couple's goals and how financially capable they are. 

The average cost for the wedding cake, drinks, and alcohol at the wedding is estimated to be around $1,500. Couples' total cost for hotel accommodations is determined by the location of the hotel and its reputation. Couples may choose to rent resorts in order to cater to the high cost of hotel accommodations for guests. Bermuda is a hot spot for many destination weddings, and couples are advised to make plans and prepare months before their big day in Bermuda.

Duties

Just as the law spells out the guidelines and rights of marriage, it also spells out the duties of couples in marriage. The family is considered to be the foundation of society; therefore, it is up to the husband and wife to ensure that they carry out their respective duties to ensure that the family is at its most functional. 

The law states that the husband and wife have a duty to one another once marriage is contracted; they have a duty to be committed to the marriage, love one another, respect each other, provide mutual support for one another, and respect each other's opinions. They are obligated to jointly provide for the welfare of the family according to their means; the husband and wife should be able to meet the material and non-material needs of the family at all times. 

The welfare, comfort, and health of the children is one of the responsibilities of the couple; they must ensure that the children have a good and conducive environment for growth and development and that they have a good educational background and moral upbringing, which would eventually make them upstanding citizens of the country.

Final Thoughts 

Bermuda is one of the top spots for destination weddings in the world. The territory has various natural attractions and beautiful scenery that make it very desirable for partners from different countries around the world. The process of getting married civilly may also be sped up with the payment of extra fees.

Before couples are allowed to get married in Bermuda, there are some checks that are done to ensure both spouses are eligible for such a marriage. People who are related to each other by a direct link or affinity are not allowed to get married in Bermuda. We hope this article has helped you understand everything about marriage in Bermuda.

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