Everything you need to know about marriage in Fiji

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

Fiji is a country in the South Pacific, Oceania, famous for its luxurious private islands, palm-lined beaches, sparkling water, spas, and resorts. The country is an archipelago of over 300 islands, and both foreigners and native Fijians are allowed to perform marriages in the country. In Dini, over 8000 marriages are performed annually, and a high percentage of marriage registrations are performed by foreigners from other countries. Fiji is a popular tourism center, and the country is a perfect destination for weddings. Fiji has a diverse population that comprises people of Chinese, indigenous Fijian, Indian, and European heritage. 

Naturally, thousands of visitors who perform marriages in Fiji get to experience the country’s distinctive cultural diversity through the food, music, arts, and festivals. The country has beautiful and stunning landscapes, sands, and seas. The sunny climate also makes it a perfect spot for classy island homes and destination weddings. There are two major ways in which couples can get married in Fiji. These are civil and religious marriages. These two types of marriages are performed in different ways; however, they generally require the submission of certain documents and meeting some criteria by the spouses. 

Civil marriages are the most popular option for foreign spouses who wish to get married in Fiji. This type of marriage is performed quickly, and upon the completion of a civil ceremony, the newlyweds will have the freedom to perform any other type of marriage. This may be a traditional, religious, or secular marriage. The rule of thumb for foreign spouses is for them to arrive in Fiji at least 36 hours before the planned wedding day. This is not a strict requirement; however, it makes the process of getting married easier and faster. Continue reading to find out more about how marriages are performed in Fiji. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages 

Civil marriages performed in Fiji are legally binding and recognized in Fiji and in other international countries. This type of marriage is performed by a state-authorized marriage officiant or registrar in a registry. The process of getting married civilly in Fiji requires the submission of several documents, such as a means of identification. All spouses who want to get married in the country are required to provide a valid picture identification issued by the Fijian government or a country abroad. Foreign spouses who want to get married are required to provide a certificate of single status. 

This certificate may be obtained from the birth, marriage, or death registry in their home country or a similar authority in charge of this. The document will serve as evidence that a spouse is eligible for marriage and single at the time of getting married in Fiji. Once all the paperwork required is present, spouses can send scanned copies to the BMD registry in Fiji and book an appointment to visit the registry in person upon their arrival. This makes the process of getting married easier because foreign spouses will have access to the marriage application process before they arrive in Fiji. Spouses have the freedom of using wedding coordinators or resorts during the process of their marriage application and registration. 

They can help with the submission of required documents and ensure everything concerning the marriage progresses smoothly. Upon arrival in Fiji, spouses will then be able to complete their marriage license and obtain a marriage certificate. The marriage license is often valid for a period of 28 days. During this period, spouses are required to perform their marriage and obtain the required documents, as well as make the required fee payments. The Fijian marriage certificate must be signed by the bride and groom and their witnesses. 

The witnesses provided by the spouses must be of legal age. In a case where both spouses are unable to provide valid witnesses, the resort staff may serve as witnesses for the couple. After the marriage certificate is issued, one will be sent to the couple and the other will be sent to the registry so that the marriage can be registered. The certificate must also be sent to the apostille seal from the department of foreign affairs. After this is completed, the marriage certificate will have international recognition.

Conditions for marriage in Fiji

  • Both partners must be at least 18 years old before they are allowed to perform a marriage.
  • If both spouses are younger than 21 years old, they are required to provide parental consent.
  • Both spouses must not be related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
  • The male and female spouses must be single, divorced, or widowed.
  • Marriage by proxy is not allowed in Fiji. Both partners must be physically present during the wedding ceremony to give consent.

Documents Required 

  • Both partners must provide a valid means of identification, such as a national identity card or valid passport.
  • Government-issued birth certificates must be provided by both spouses.
  • A single status certificate
  • Divorce or death certificate. Previously married spouses must provide either of these certificates as proof that their previous marriage was terminated.
  • Both spouses are required to provide two valid witnesses during the ceremony.


Religious marriages 

In Fiji, religious marriages are performed by a registered minister of religion and take place in the couple’s place of worship. This type of marriage is also legally binding and recognized in the country. The country is diverse in terms of ethnicity and religion. Over 60 percent of the population is Christian. 27 percent of Fijian nationals are Hindu, while about 6.3 percent of the rest of the population is Muslim. Each religious belief has its own unique way of performing marriage. 

A synonymous marriage rite with all types of traditional and religious marriages is the request for parents' consent and blessings. In Fiji, spouses often go to their respective homes with the bride or groom they intend to marry to ask for the formal consent and approval of the parents. If the parents accept the marriage, the preparations proceed, and the bride and groom are blessed by the father and mother. Church marriages are often celebrated in the morning on weekends.

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Marriage traditions in Fiji

Tevutevu Ceremony

This is a unique marriage tradition in Fiji. Here, a ceremony is organized for the bride and groom where the guests spread their mats on the floor, one on top of the other, to signify where they will sleep. The bride's mother is usually the last to put her in her place, and this ceremonial rite has a lot of emotional significance for the couple.

Meke Ceremony 

The Meke Ceremony is one of the most interesting parts of Fijian wedding ceremonies. Here, local dancers and musicians are given a chance to perform and get the guests saving and having a good time with their music and dance moves. This popular tradition is performed as a way of paying tribute to the island nation.

Bilibili 

This is a marriage tradition that is still performed in some areas of Fiji. Here, native Fijians wear traditional garb and carry the bride on a wedding throne. The wedding throne is usually adorned with a lot of beautiful flowers as the bride is carried down the aisle to give her a memorable experience.

Same-sex marriages

There is no recognition for same-sex relationships in Fiji. On the island, spouses of the same sex are not allowed to perform unions, partnerships, or marriages. The status of homosexuality and same-sex sexual activities have been legal in Fiji since 2010, and the constitution of the country has also banned the discrimination of same-sex couples in Fiji.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in Fiji. Marriage is only allowed to have a monogamous nature where one man marries another woman. Multiple spouses are not allowed to get married to each other. Before entering into a new marriage, a man or woman must ensure that their previous marriage has been legally terminated.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Marriage in Fiji is as simple as meeting the requirements imposed by the country's marriage laws. According to the law, marriage is only allowed to take place if the concerned parties have reached the minimum age for marriage. In Fiji, persons aged 16–18 are permitted to get married; however, they must obtain parental permission (the father's permission or the mother's consent if the father is absent or dead). Persons who have reached the age of 21 do not need to provide parental consent to be able to get married in Fiji. Any underage marriage below the minimum age for marriage is not permitted in the country, even under extenuating circumstances. 

The Laws of Marriage in Fiji state that intending couples have to be single at the time of marriage; they either have to be unmarried, divorced, or widowed before they are permitted to contract marriage. If any of the prospective spouses have previously been married and the marriage ended due to the death of one of the spouses or divorce, the concerned spouses must submit a Decree Absolute document if divorced or a Death Certificate if widowed. The law does not allow the practice of bigamy, where the spouses are still in a legally binding marriage but also wish to contract a new marriage contract. In other words, the practice of polygamy is also against the law; neither the bride nor the groom is allowed to marry more than one spouse at the same time. 

In Fiji, civil marriage is the only legally recognized form of marital union; other forms such as religious marriages and traditional marriages are allowed to be celebrated but do not hold any legal value, so couples are required to have a civil legal marriage before they have any other celebrations. Civil marriages must be held at the civil registry and conducted by an authorized marriage celebrant who must be a citizen of Fiji. Marriage in Fiji cannot take place between people who are related to one another. Couples are not allowed to marry people they are directly related to, nor can they marry people they are related to through an alliance of marriage or adoption. Both the groom and bride must be present at the time of marriage, along with two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and must have valid identity documentation.

Rights

In addition to the fundamental human rights that are available to all citizens in Fiji, marriage guarantees a new set of rights to couples. This does not affect the fundamental rights, as some of the marriage rights are also fundamental human rights. Some of the new rights that marriage provides to couples include the right to share or own property. At the time of marriage, the husband and wife have the right to decide which marital regime of property would be effective in the marriage; it could either be a joint marital regime of property, a separate marital regime of property, or a combination of both. 

Under the joint marital regime of property, all assets obtained during marriage and some obtained before marriage become the joint property of the husband and wife, and they both have the right to use, own, and discard as they wish. Under the separate marital regime of property, the assets that belong to the husband and wife both before and during marriage are owned and used individually, and the spouse who owns each property only has the right to discard it. The couple also has the right to sign a prenuptial agreement, which ensures the protection of property in the event of divorce. Another right that comes with marriage in Fiji is the right to child custody. 

Couples have the right to be the legal guardians of their children by marriage; they have the right to exercise parental authority. They have parental rights, which must not be abused and cannot be renounced. Under the law, both the husband and wife have the same right to divorce. When a marriage fails, the husband and wife have the right to file for divorce, which will be granted based on the couple's testimonies and evidence presented in court. After divorce has been granted, the husband and wife still have parental rights over the children, and they are entitled to receive custody of them.

Costs

The cost of getting married in Fiji is cheap and affordable compared to many other countries in the world. An average wedding in Fiji costs around 2,000 FJD to 4,000 FJD and can easily increase depending on the size of the wedding, the number of invited guests, as well as the goals of the couple. 

For an average wedding ceremony of at least 30 guests, couples should expect to spend around 9,000 FJD to as much as 22,000 FJD. This is the average cost of a destination wedding in Fiji, excluding airfare and transportation.

Duties

The average Fijian family is largely patriarchal, so the roles and responsibilities of couples in marriage are based on their respective gender roles generally. In Fiji, the husband is responsible for the financial and economic wellbeing of the family; he must ensure that all the needs of the family are met, however, according to his means. 

Despite this stereotype, many modern families now share the responsibility of providing for the needs of the family between the husband and wife; they both contribute to the wellbeing and welfare of the family according to their financial means. In Fiji, the wife is responsible for taking care of all the home affairs; she is obligated to take on the role of the homemaker, even if she has a job. 

She is required to take care of the children, take care of her husband and the home, be hospitable, and ensure that all the personal needs of her husband are met. Regardless of these gender roles, couples have a duty to look out for one another. They must provide care and assistance for each other as well as mutual support and respect for each other's opinions. They must be committed to the marriage in order to make it work, as a failure to carry out their respective duties can affect the family and lead to its breakdown.

Final Thoughts

Fiji is a beautiful island country with some of the most spectacular wedding locations in the world. The process of contracting a marriage in the country is straightforward, and couples are offered a lot of flexibility to ensure they have the best time in the country. The marriage application process may begin before foreign spouses arrive in the country. However, they must be physically present to obtain a marriage license.

In Fiji, two people of the same sex are not permitted to marry legally. Marriage can either be performed in a religious or civil setting and must be solemnized by government officers or ministers of religion. Three copies of the marriage certificate must be signed by the couple, their witnesses, and the marriage officer to ensure its legal validity in Fiji and other foreign countries. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Fiji.

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