Everything you need to know about marriage in Pakistan

19 Mar 2023·19 min to read
Everything you need to know about marriage in Pakistan 01

In Pakistan, a marriage is not just a union between a man and a woman; it also joins their respective families together. Arranged marriages are quite popular in the country, and a lot of emphasis is not placed on marrying for love. Marriage negotiations are usually carried out between the two male heads of the families, and the couples only serve as representatives in the marriage contract. Marriage is essentially a way of uniting families and getting new relatives. Because most marriages are Islamic in nature, a dowry known as mehr is frequently paid to the bride's family by the groom and his family.

The majority of marriages in Pakistan are arranged marriages. Other popular types of marriages are semi-arranged and love marriages. The ancient tradition has always been that the parents are in charge of marriage preparations and ceremonies. When it is time for a man to get married after he has reached an appropriate age, his family seeks a potential bride for him from other similar families in the community.

They usually checked the social status of the family as well as the attractiveness and attitude of the bride. However, modern Pakistan does things differently, especially in urban areas. Spouses are now able to freely choose who they want to get married to without any major interference from a third party. As you continue reading, the rest of the article will show you the popular marriage traditions and more in Pakistan.

Civil marriage in Pakistan

A civil marriage is also referred to as a "court marriage" in Pakistan. This type of marriage is not very popular in the country because most of the couples are Muslims who would rather have an Islamic marriage held in the mosque. Civil marriages in Pakistan are performed by a judge in the court that is in the municipal area where the couple intends to hold the marriage ceremony. The couples are required to bring at least two witnesses to the ceremony. Both spouses must be of legal age. The minimum age for men to get married in the country is 18 years, while that for women is 16 years.

The process of registering one’s marriage in Pakistan is very fast. It generally takes less than an hour, and couples have to submit some documents that are required and must be approved before the marriage is allowed to take place. A valid ID and two photographs are to be brought along during the civil registration. Most of these documents are meant for marriage validation purposes. The conditions and required documents for getting married in Pakistan are stated below.

Conditions for marriage

  • The groom must be at least 18 years old, while the bride must be at least 16 years old. If an underage child marries, it is considered a crime and may result in fines and a jail term.
  • Both partners must be registered citizens of Pakistan, and they must be Muslims. In a situation where only one of the partners is a Muslim, the other must correctly convert to Islam before the marriage ceremony is allowed to take place.
  • The court is in charge of setting a suitable date and time for the marriage ceremony. After the marriage ceremony is completed, the couple proceeds to receive their marriage certificate.

Documents required for marriage

The documents that must be submitted by spouses getting married in Pakistan are stated below.

  • Photographs of the bride and groom Each of the spouses has to submit two passport photographs.
  • A valid means of identification for both parties. This can be the national Pakistani ID card or passport.
  • A court-issued marriage application form that has been completed appropriately
    Conversion certificate. This applies to a spouse who is a non-Muslim. To get married in the country, they must lawfully convert to Islam.
  • Parental and guardian consent. This allows spouses who are below the age of 18 to
  • The spouses must provide two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and of legal age.
  • Payment of the fee for the court marriage license
  • A divorce or death certificate. This must be presented by a spouse who was previously married before they can enter another relationship in Pakistan.
    For Muslims who want to have multiple wives, a man may only take another wife if he gets permission from his wife or an arbitration council to do so.
    Court marriages are the quickest way to be legally married in Pakistan, and because they do not cost so much, citizens of the country consider them often. Civil marriages also involve no religious constraints. Anyone in Pakistan can perform a civil marriage regardless of their belief, community, or religion.

Traditional Marriages 

A traditional marriage in Pakistan is also referred to as the Shaadi. The Shaadi is made up of two parts, namely, Nikah and Walima. Love marriages are usually the shortest form of marriage because the groom and bride are usually quite familiar with each other and are just doing the formal engagement rites for the families to meet and bless the union. However, arranged and semi-arranged marriages took a lot of time to be completed. Some took up to a year or more. Let's get right to the Shaadi parts.


The Nikah refers to the formal marriage ceremony where a marriage contract is signed by the groom and bride in the presence of their family members. The marriage contract is referred to as the Nikkhahnama. This part of the ceremony is held in a mosque and performed by an authorized religious leader such as a sheikh or an imam. The bride and groom must provide two witnesses, their free consent to marry, and also be of legal age to get married in the country.


This is the second part of a traditional marriage in Pakistan, where the couple hosts different people, including family, friends, and other guests. During this ceremony, they make the marriage official in front of the public. The couples have the freedom of choosing where the Walima will take place. It can be held in a restaurant, house, or even halls.

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Marriage traditions in Pakistan

In Pakistan, customs and traditions vary depending on the region and community of the spouses getting married. The traditions of Baloch weddings are stated below:

Zamati and Habar Bandi

This refers to the proposal and engagement ceremony. Here, the groom’s family causes the bride’s family to express their son's desire to get married to their daughter. The daughter is then asked by her family if she accepts and wants to get married to the groom. If she agrees, the groom presents all the gift items he brought to the house of his wife-to-be, and they officially become engaged and start marriage planning.

Jol Bandi

This tradition is usually done at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. Here, the bride wears a well-decorated and flashy dress that was sewn by the groom’s family. The ceremony usually takes place at the bride’s house, with both families in attendance.

Dozokhi and Henna Bandi

This is also a tradition done in the actual wedding ceremony, where henna is applied to the hands of the bride. Here, the bride wears a beautiful cloth, and her friends and other guests dance around her and put money in a plate that has been placed on her head. It is usually one of the most interesting parts of the wedding ceremony.


This is a post-wedding ceremonial rite that is hosted by the bride's family. Here, the entire groom’s family as well as other friends are invited to the bride's house so they can share a meal and spend time with each other in celebration of the newlyweds and the lives ahead of them.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties


Marriage is a legal agreement between two people who have decided to become husband and wife with mutual consent. In Pakistan, the laws guiding marriages differ from one another; the laws of Muslim marriage do not apply to those of Hindus or Sikhs. But there are still general points where these laws meet. According to the law of marriage in Pakistan, it is illegal to hold child marriages; it is considered a penal offence, intending Couples must be at least 18 years old for males and 16 years old for females. There must be an actual written agreement showing the mutual consent of both parties. Islam is one of the most practiced religions in Pakistan, and as a result, the majority of marriages are conducted according to the provisions of this law. Under the Muslim Family Law Ordinance of 1961, both parties must be Muslims and Pakistani citizens. If either of the couple is not Muslim, he or she has to convert to Islam before the marriage can be held.

Unlike other traditions where the consent of the wali is more important than that of the bride, in Pakistan, the bride-to-be is allowed to get married without the consent of her wali. Muslim marriages must be registered six months from the date a marriage certificate is issued. However, refusal to register doesn't make your marriage invalid, but defaulters would face penalties such as the payment of fines or imprisonment. According to the dictates of the Muslim marriage laws, polygamy is allowed; however, the man must file an application with the local union council, pay certain fees, and also receive the permission of an arbitration council. He must also inform his wife of his intent to marry more wives, and she must give her consent because refusal to inform the present wife could lead to punishment such as imprisonment under the law.

In order to sign the marriage agreement in front of the appropriate authorities, intending couples must have at least two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and will testify to the authenticity of the relationship. According to the law, necessary documents such as identity cards, passport photographs, a marriage application form, and certificates of divorce or death in the event that one of the spouses was previously married, must be submitted to the council. Hindu laws do not allow polygamy or divorce. Christian, Sikh, and Parsi marriage laws follow the dictates of each religion.


By virtue of marriage, couples in Pakistan have access to equal rights as made available by the laws guiding marriage. Couples have the right to own separate assets as well as conduct their personal businesses as they see fit. Both parties have the right to request a divorce or dissolution of marriage as they see fit; however, the majority of women in Pakistan do not exercise this right because of the stigma that comes with it. 

The woman has the right to request maintenance and fair treatment from her husband. They both have the right to make decisions concerning the welfare of the family. The wife is allowed to exercise her financial rights over her husband in the form of her dowry, which the husband is expected to pay at the completion of the marriage process. If the husband is capable, the wife has the right to request separate accommodations. The man has a duty to provide for the needs of the woman, and this affords him the right to demand obedience and availability from his wife. The husband has the right to receive honor and dignity from his wife or wives as well as give permission to his wife before she goes out.


The wedding industry in Pakistan makes billions of dollars annually and has become a very lucrative business. Getting married in Pakistan is very expensive, and as the years go by, it gets more and more expensive. People see the need to outdo themselves by having the most memorable weddings every year, and this can easily turn competitive. It's the choice of the couple to either have an extravagant wedding or something simple.

A typical wedding can cost between Rs. 10-15 lakhs. However, this amount depends on how wealthy the families are; wedding budgets can cost as much as Rs. 40 lakhs for extremely lavish weddings. Everything needed for the wedding costs a lot, so creating a working budget for your wedding might seem a little far-fetched as the prices of things are not fixed. Things like the lavish decorations, grand reception venues, a long list of guests, expensive attire, and catering make up the very large wedding budget. However, if spending so much on your wedding is not an option, you could easily set up a very affordable wedding budget by cutting back on a number of things, like the venue and the guest list. 

Having around 25 guests, most of whom are close relatives, is more than enough; you don't necessarily have to go out of your way to make your wedding extravagant. Having a memorable wedding is not about how much money is spent but about how well organized the event is.


The duties of couples to one another depend on the religion they believe in. As stated earlier, Islam is the most practiced religion in Pakistan, and as a result, the duties of the husband and wife in Pakistani society are based mostly on Islamic teachings. According to these teachings, the husband is seen as the sole provider and is required to provide maintenance for the family, more specifically his wife. He is tasked with the responsibility of providing for all the requirements and demands made by his wife.

The wife, however, has the duty to take care of the household; she is responsible for the growth, education, and development of the children; she is seen as the homemaker. Couples are expected to respect and be faithful to one another. The man has a duty to understand and give time to his wife. The wife should understand her husband's preferences, ensure his comfort, and see that all his needs are met. She is expected to respect her husband's decisions and not question his judgment. 

While the wife fulfills her duty to take care of and respect her in-laws, the husband must also ensure that his family members show respect to his wife. He must maintain a balance in his relationship with his immediate family and extended family. In essence, husband and wife are expected to abide by the obligations and duties spelled out by their various traditions and beliefs.


Pakistani traditions are deeply rooted. Customs and traditions that existed in ancient times are still quite popular in the country. In the past, the norm was for the couples to arrange marriage ceremonies between each other. The actual spouses did not have much say in who or when they would be getting married. However, things are different now. Many Pakistanis marry for love, entirely of their own volition.

In Pakistan, the cost of getting married through a civil ceremony is far less than that of a traditional or religious ceremony. Couples must research the country's laws because some may not apply to Muslims but to all other non-Muslims. Only Muslim men are allowed to have multiple wives in the country. Muslim women are not permitted to have more than one husband or to marry non-Muslims. We hope that this article has covered everything you need to know about getting married in Pakistan.