Everything you need to know about marriage in the Bahamas

1 Jul 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in the Bahamas 01

Over 3000 marriages are performed every year in the Bahamas by Bahamian nationals and foreigners. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an island country in the Caribbean known for its beautiful beaches with white sands and turquoise waters. The country is one of the most popular spots for destination weddings in the world. Marriages are performed through different methods in the Bahamas. Couples can opt for civil, religious, or symbolic weddings. Generally, the easiest way to get married in the country is by performing a symbolic wedding. This type of wedding does not involve all the formalities of other ceremonies, and the license can also be obtained beforehand by the spouses so that they can fully enjoy their marriage ceremony. 

The country helps couples save money in the long run because it serves as an amazing spot for both weddings and honeymoons. Couples are able to invite their families and friends from other countries, and there are several agencies that make destination weddings easy and stress-free. Civil and religious marriages are also open to anyone from any part of the world as long as they are eligible for marriage. These marriages have certain criteria that must be met by spouses before they are allowed to marry, and civil marriages involve the submission of certain paperwork. Symbolic weddings in the Bahamas offer a lot of flexibility. 

Couples have the freedom to decide where and when they want the ceremony to happen. The most popular spot for these types of weddings is the beachfront, with its beautiful scenery from the ocean to the sands. The amazing culture and weather of the country are two of the major things that attract people, and of course, the Bahamas is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. As you read on, you will find out more about the types of marriages in the Bahamas as well as popular marriage traditions in the country.

Civil marriages 

To get married in The Bahamas, spouses must first request a license from the registrar general’s department. All civil marriages performed in the Bahamas are recognized and legally binding in other parts of the world. There are different marriage officers that have the authority to perform a civil marriage ceremony. These are the registrar general, the deputy general, the family island administrators or commissioners, assistant registrar, and the Supreme Court magistrates. The legal marriage age in the country is 18 years for both male and female spouses. Under special circumstances, spouses below this age may be allowed to marry; however, they are required to provide parental consent. 

The marriage license obtained in the country has a validity period of three months from when it was issued. Upon the completion of the marriage, a duplicate marriage register is sent to the marriage officer as soon as possible. The marriage application and registration process begin with the completion of an application for a marriage license. Both spouses are required to submit this form at the marriage registration section of the registrar general's department. After the submission, they are required to present a valid picture ID. A valid passport or drivers' license could suffice as a means of identification. 

There may be a marriage interview afterwards. In a situation whereby two Bahamian nationals are getting married to each other, there will be no interviews as the officer in charge of the marriage ceremony can go ahead and sign the declaration; however, if a Bahamian is marrying a foreigner from another country or two foreigners are getting married in the Bahamas, an interview must be conducted by the registrar general. The declaration in either of these instances must be signed by the registrar general. After everything is approved, the couple will be able to obtain a marriage license upon the payment of the required fees. Non-Bahamians are required to have stayed in the Bahamas for a period of 24 hours before the marriage application and registration. 

Generally, obtaining a marriage certificate in the Bahamas is a quick process. In some cases, couples may be able to obtain the marriage certificate in 24 hours; other cases often do not last more than 3 days. All the documents submitted by both Bahamian and foreign spouses will be verified by the concerned authorities. The marriage will take place only after the marriage registrar has confirmed that everything is in order and that the spouses face no restrictions. Non-Bahamians are required to provide their immigration cards as proof of entry into the Bahamas. This will also serve as evidence that they were in the country 24 hours prior to when the marriage registration process begins. The documents that must be submitted by both spouses are stated below.

Documents Required

  • Both spouses are required to provide a valid means of identification. Bahamians may submit a national ID card, while foreigners may submit a valid passport.
  • Foreign spouses must present their immigration card as proof of their arrival date in the Bahamas.
  • Certificate of no intention to marry. This must be submitted by spouses to show that they are single at the time of marriage and not facing any legal issues that can hinder the marriage in the Bahamas, both at home and abroad.
  • Divorce or death certificates. Either of these forms must be submitted by separated or widowed spouses.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are also very common in the Bahamas. The country's religion is not very diverse, as it is dominated by Christians. The country, however, does not have a state religion, and Bahamians and other foreigners in the country are allowed to practice any religious belief freely. The Protestant Church is the largest Christian denomination in the country, with over 80 percent of the total population of the Bahamas. The Roman Catholic Church makes up about 14.5 percent of the population, while other Christian denominations make up 1.3 percent. The rest of the population, about 4 percent, is unaffiliated or has other religious beliefs. 

The first step to getting married in the church in the Bahamas is to contact the pastor or priest of the parish where the marriage will take place. Most times, couples are said to begin their marriage process in the church by setting up a meeting with the pastor. At the meeting, the prenuptial form will be filled out by both spouses, and the pastor may ask the couple a few questions. During this time, the couples may state how they want the marriage to be performed as well as their preferred wedding date. All church weddings must be performed in the church, and the parish priest is charged with the responsibility of verifying all that has been stated by the spouses before proceeding with the ceremony.

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Marriage customs in the Bahamas

Something old, something new

This is a common wedding tradition in the western world. Something old refers to the item that is obtained by the couple from a close family member or friend who is in a happy marriage as a symbol of transferring their luck to the newlyweds. Something new can be any of the new items, such as wedding attire or shoes worn by the couple.

Tied shoes 

This is a unique tradition for the people of the Bahamas. After the wedding ceremony is concluded, the bride and groom are tied to the back of the car that will be carrying them. This is a symbol from the father showing that the financial responsibility of his daughter falls on the shoulders of her husband.

Something borrowed, something blue

Something borrowed is often an expensive piece of jewelry worn by the bride on her wedding day. It symbolizes good fortune and wealth in the marriage. Something blue is any ornament used on the wedding day to represent love and purity.

Same-sex marriages 

The status of being a homosexual in the Bahamas has been legal since 1991. The country allows same-sex sexual activities, although homosexuals may face legal challenges. Households headed by same-sex couples do not enjoy the marriage rights and benefits available to non-LGBT couples.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is prohibited in the Bahamas. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Men and women are not allowed to have more than one spouse at a time. Previous marriages must be legally terminated before entering a new one. Polygamy in the Bahamas may result in legal consequences under the law.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

The Bahamas' law of marriage is straightforward for both nationals and foreigners to understand and abide by. The law states that before marriage is allowed to take place, the couple must obtain a marriage license from the civil marriage registry to be able to contract marriage. Prior to this time, a marriage application stating the couple's intent to marry must be submitted and approved before a marriage license is issued. Any foreign document must be apostille-certified and translated by an authorized translator before it is approved. According to the law, all citizens are allowed to contract marriage, but they must have reached the legal age for marriage, which is set at 18 years for both men and women. If the husband and wife are minors, that is, under the legal marriage age, an affidavit demonstrating parental consent to the marriage must be submitted.

Such affidavit forms can be obtained from the office of the general registrar. The law also requires an original or a valid copy of the final decree of dissolution of marriage to be submitted if either of the couples has previously been married but has been divorced. Foreigners who have been married in the past but are currently divorced must also submit a certificate of divorce to the appropriate authorities. For Europeans, the certificate must be in the native language of the couple, and a copy of the certificate translated into English must be submitted alongside it to the appropriate authorities. In the event of widowhood, for both nationals and foreigners, a certificate of death must be submitted to prove that the marriage is no longer existent.

All couples must be single at the time of marriage; there cannot be any legal impediment to marriage, and they must present a signed declaration of this fact to the civil registry. Both foreigners and nationals must obey this law. Under the law, a search for a minimum of two weeks would be conducted for any single Bahamian citizen who is over the age of forty and wishes to contract marriage. After this search has been conducted, the marriage license will be granted. This law does not affect foreigners in the Bahamas. Foreigners who wish to be married in the Bahamas must have permission from their country to be able to contract marriage in the Bahamas, and they must be in the country at least 24 hours before the chosen wedding date.

Rights

Both the husband and wife have the right to decide on the family's domicile and to contract divorce in the event of a marriage breakdown. The husband and wife have the same right to file for divorce, either mutually or based on the fault of one of the couple. And after divorce has been agreed upon, the couple has the right to receive custody of the children. Spouses enjoy the right to fair treatment; the husband and wife have the right to receive equal and respectful treatment from one another at all times, and the husband and wife must not be violent in their dealings with one another. 

They both have the right to decide on the number of children they wish to have without any restrictions or limitations, and they are entitled to raise the children according to the various religious and moral inclinations of the couple. The husband and wife have equal rights to decide on the residence of the family. They are both granted the right to work and receive proper remuneration for it; any form of discrimination at the workplace is prohibited under the law. The husband and wife have equal rights to freedom of movement; they do not need to seek the permission of one another before they travel or move around the country freely. 

Couples have the right to change, acquire, and confer their nationality on their children as well as their foreign spouses. If one of the couple is a foreigner, he or she has the right to obtain permanent residence after all the requirements have been met. Spouses have the right to participate in any form of socioeconomic and political activity without restrictions; they are granted the right to vote and be voted for, as well as run for official government offices.

Costs

Marriage is considered very important to the citizens of the Bahamas. It is believed to be one of the most important events in the life of any man, so couples go above and beyond to ensure that the day is memorable. The Bahamas is known to be a great destination for weddings; therefore, many couples across the world often work towards having their dream weddings in the Bahamas. The average cost of a wedding in the Bahamas is estimated to be around $2,000 to as much as $11,000, compared to the average cost of hosting a wedding in the United States. 

Couples can decide to have an intimate wedding, which would not cost much, or an extravagant wedding. It all depends on the financial ability of the couple and what they hope to achieve. The Bahamas offers a variety of fantastic packages for foreigners who want to marry in their beautiful country. Packages starting as low as $3,000 are available for couples, and while there are other costs that make up the total cost of a wedding, the couple must put into consideration how financially capable they are.

Duties

The husband and wife must be committed to carrying out their various duties in the home. Couples are obligated to jointly contribute to the wellbeing and welfare of the family; they must be able to ensure that the needs of the family are met at all times according to their various means. Spouses are obligated to show respect for one another, provide mutual assistance and support for one another, and also ensure that the family is protected at all times. 

They are expected to carry out their various conjugal responsibilities during marriage. The educational upbringing and moral background of the children are the responsibilities of the husband and wife. The husband can also assist the wife with her duties at home, and the same goes for the wife as well.

Conclusion 

Getting married in the Bahamas is both beautiful and straightforward. The country is a top spot for destination weddings, and foreigners from various countries around the world celebrate their weddings in the Bahamas in unique styles.

Couples are able to perform both their wedding ceremony and honeymoon in the country. Also, to get married in the Bahamas, no blood tests are required, which makes the process of obtaining a marriage certificate quite fast. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in the Bahamas.

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