Everything you need to know about marriage in the Seychelles

11 Aug 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in the Seychelles 01

Over 1000 marriages are registered annually in the Seychelles by Seychellois nationals and foreigners from other parts of the world. Seychelles is a country in east Africa popular for its beach destinations, stunning landscapes, and tourism. The country consists of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean and is home to numerous coral reefs, nature reserves, and beaches. Marriages are very colorful and special events in the country, and a lot of foreigners dream about tying the knot in the Seychelles. The two types of marriages performed in the Seychelles are civil and religious marriages. They are both recognized and protected under the laws of the country. 

Most people who get married in the Seychelles perform a civil wedding ceremony. Religious marriages are often arranged at the special request of couples. Upon the conclusion of marriages in the country, there is usually a wedding feast where both families get to celebrate the new marriage together. The country is very popular for destination weddings, and some foreign spouses bring some of their guests down from their home country to witness their solemnization in the Seychelles. The country has residency requirements for foreign spouses, which will be touched on later in this article. 

In Seychelles, marriage is governed by the Seychelles Marriage Act of 2008. According to this law, marriage is a union between one man and one woman, and it is a legal contract that requires the consent of both parties. The 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago offer all spouses a wide variety of locations for wedding ceremonies, from remote and secluded beaches to luxury resorts with all the attractions and amenities required to have a great time. The rest of this article will show the marriage requirements for a civil marriage in the Seychelles. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages 

The process of performing a civil marriage in the Seychelles involves the submission of various documents as well as meeting marriage requirements by both spouses. A civil marriage is performed in the civil registry or status office by an authorized Seychellois marriage officer or registrar. Both partners intending to get married in the Seychelles must head to the civil registry office to make an official marriage application. At the registry, the marriage officer will make them aware of the paperwork that must be provided by both spouses. The process of getting married civilly, from the marriage application to the registration and the eventual wedding ceremony, may take up to 5 or 7 days. However, this process may be quite lengthy for foreign spouses. 

In many cases, foreign spouses have been known to conclude their civil marriage ceremony in the country after about three weeks. As stated earlier in the introductory section of this article, foreign spouses have residency requirements that must be met before they are allowed to perform a civil marriage in the country. To get married in the Seychelles, a foreign spouse must have resided in the country for at least 11 days. Upon the conclusion of the 11 days, a spouse from another country may approach the Registry to make an official declaration of intention to marry in the Seychelles. The application form will be issued by the registrar to the spouses, and they will be required to fill it out with their complete information as well as the attachment of required documents before submitting it back at the registry office. Spouses who are related are not allowed to marry. Therefore, both spouses must not be related by blood, adoption, or marriage. 

One of the documents that is always mandatory is the divorce or death certificate. However, this may only be submitted by spouses to whom it applies. The document will show that all previous marriages were legally dissolved before proceeding to contract a new marriage in the country. Foreign spouses may be required to obtain certain documents from concerned authorities in their home country or at the embassy or consulate of their country in the Seychelles. These documents obtained abroad must be provided in English, French, or Creole in accordance with Seychelles law, as these are the only official and legally recognized languages in the country. Furthermore, foreigners must ensure that an authorization stamp is on their documents. After all the marriage documents are submitted, the registrar contacts the appropriate authorities to ensure all the information provided is valid. 

The marriage ceremony will only proceed when all documents are verifiable. After the submission of documents, the marriage registrar will schedule a date for the wedding ceremony with the couple. The civil registry is usually open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If a couple wishes to get married during the weekend or a public holiday, they will be required to pay extra fees. Both partners will be required to provide two witnesses during the wedding ceremony. These witnesses will also need to provide valid ID. Spouses who are unable to provide witnesses may seek the help of wedding planners for the provision of witnesses. The actual wedding ceremony usually lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. The documents that must be submitted by both partners are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • Both partners are required to provide valid photo IDs, either a national ID card or a valid passport.
  • The couple must submit a completed marriage application form.
  • The birth certificates of both parties must be provided. This document must also carry the names of the parents of both spouses.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Either of these documents must be submitted by previously married spouses who are now widowed or separated as proof of the termination of the previous marriage.
  • Foreign spouses must provide proof of residency that they have lived in the Seychelles for at least 11 days.
  • A police character certificate must be provided by a foreign spouse getting married to a Seychelles citizen. This document must be 6 months old or less, and it may be obtained from any Seychelles police station.
  • Foreign spouses must provide a certificate of no impediment to marriage.

Religious marriages

Religious marriages are quite popular in the Seychelles, and they may be performed by both foreign spouses and Seychellois nationals. 89 percent of the people living in the Seychelles are Christians, with most of them being under the denomination of the Roman Catholic Church. The total number of Seychellois practicing Hinduism and Islam is less than 3 percent of the total population. Over 5 percent have no religious affiliations. Most marriages performed are either Anglican or Catholic wedding ceremonies. 

Unlike in many other countries, the process of conducting a religious marriage takes longer and may include stricter rules than a civil ceremony. Couples who wish to conduct a civil marriage will be required to submit all the necessary paperwork three months in advance of their intended wedding date. For a religious marriage to be legally binding in the Seychelles, the spouses must have obtained a marriage certificate in a civil ceremony.

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Marriage traditions in the Seychelles

Bridal dress

The marriage custom in Seychelles is for the bride to wear a beautiful white wedding gown on the day of her church wedding. The groom wears a suit, which is often black, navy blue, or grey. The bridal dress may also include a veil, which is worn over the face of the bride. The veil is removed during the wedding ceremony by the groom.

Throwing the wedding bouquet

After the completion of the church wedding ceremony, the bride may wear a blindfold and turn to the bridesmaids, who are usually single women. She must throw the wedding bouquet backwards, and it is believed that the person who catches the flower will be the next to get married.

Traditional Food and Drinks

It is customary to serve a traditional Seychellois meal during the wedding reception. The food usually includes seafood, curry, and rice. The food is usually paired with different types of beverages, and it may include several courses served at different times over the course of the ceremony.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are not allowed in the Seychelles. Same-sex sexual activity in the country has been legal since 2016; however, same-sex couples are not allowed to be in any form of union, partnership, or marriage with each other. Members of the LGBT community face stigmatization and other legal challenges in the country that are not experienced by non-LGBT Seychellois.
 

Polygamous marriages in the Seychelles

Polygamy is illegal in the Seychelles. A man is not allowed to be married to more than one woman at a time, and likewise for a woman. The country is dominated by Christians, who do not practice polygamous marriages according to the principles of their religion. The practice of polygamy in the country may result in legal challenges and consequences; however, there are still some rural regions and communities where multiple people are entering into marriage with each other. These marriages cannot be registered, and they have no legal recognition in the country.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

To be married in the Seychelles, couples have the option to either contract a civil marriage or a religious marriage. A civil marriage has specific requirements that couples must meet in order for the marriage to take place. Under the civil laws of marriage, the stipulated legal age for marriage is 18 years for both men and women. Exceptions are made for minors to contract marriage, but they must fulfill the parental consent requirement to contract a civil marriage. Females aged 15–18 years are required to provide proof of parental consent in writing. The groom and bride must give their free and willing consent to marriage. There must not be any interference from third parties, nor should force or violence be used to obtain consent. At the time of marriage, the groom and bride are required to be single. They should either be unmarried, divorced, or widowed. 

The practice of bigamy is prohibited in the Seychelles. Any of the spouses who have been married before should provide proof that the previous marriage has been dissolved. In the event of widowhood, the death certificate of the former spouse is applicable, and in the event of divorce, a divorce decree certificate is admissible. Neither the bride nor the groom is allowed to practice polygamy. Marriage must be between one man and one woman. The marriage must be registered at the civil registry, and the groom and bride must be present to carry out this process. After registration, a notice of intended marriage, also known as banns, must be published and pasted at the civil registry for at least 11 days before the ceremony. The groom and bride must ensure that there is no legal impediment to marriage. 

All required documents, such as birth certificates and identity documents, must be valid and submitted to the appropriate authorities for verification. A marriage license must be obtained before marriage can take place. Anyone who is not a citizen of the Seychelles may contract marriage in the country. It could be a mixed marriage or a marriage between two foreigners. However, he or she must be eligible for marriage in his or her home country. The law requires foreigners to be in the Seychelles for at least three nights before the event. To contract a religious marriage, couples have the option of a Roman Catholic wedding or an Anglican wedding. Whichever is chosen, the couple must fulfill the requirements of their local parish for marriage to take place. Same-sex activity is legal in the Seychelles, but marriages are illegal and prohibited.

Rights

In the Seychelles, couples have access to equal rights in marriage, regardless of gender or age. Both the groom and bride have the right to work, the right to own property, the right to inherit, and the right to divorce, to mention a few. Couples have the right to freedom of movement and speech. Both the husband and wife do not need to obtain permission from one another to be able to move around or travel within or outside the country. Marriage does not place a limitation on the rights of couples to express their thoughts and feelings through words. Married men and women have the right to be involved in the decision-making process in the home. 

They both play influential roles in making decisions concerning the health and wellbeing of the family. The right to participate in economic and financial activities is conferred on the couple. The husband and wife have the right to access credit, open bank accounts, and invest without obtaining permission from one another. Marriage is contracted for the purpose of founding a family; therefore, couples automatically have parental rights over their children in marriage. They have the right to legal guardianship and the right to exercise parental authority when necessary. They also have the right to raise the children according to the moral and religious inclinations of the household. 

The family law of the Seychelles grants either spouse the right to file a divorce petition stating the irretrievable status of marriage. Both the husband and wife have the same right to initiate a divorce on mutual grounds or on the grounds of adultery, aggressive behavior, desertion for two years, one-year separation, or imprisonment for up to two years. The couple also has the right to petition for custody of the children. However, custody will be granted to the parent who demonstrates greater responsibility and has the best interests of the children in mind.

Costs

Variable and fixed costs make up the total amount of money that would be spent on a wedding. In the Seychelles, couples take these factors into consideration while putting together their wedding budget. To be civilly married, couples should expect to spend an administrative cost of 1,000 to 1,500 Seychelles rupees. The wedding reception is where all the money is spent. The total cost is determined by the financial ability of the couple and what they hope to achieve, among other important factors. Couples should expect to spend around 16,000 to 120,000 Seychellois Rupees, which is approximately US $1,330 and US $10,000, respectively.

Duties

At the time of marriage, the husband and wife are educated on their respective and joint roles in the home. The duties of the husband and wife in marriage are very important. These duties must be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the family. Both husband and wife have a duty to love each other without hypocrisy. Married Men and women have a duty to provide for the needs of the family. The material and nonmaterial needs of the family must be met by the husband and wife. 

They should not only provide but also be physically, mentally, and emotionally available. The wellbeing of the children should be the priority of the couple. They have a duty to cater to the needs of the children, provide them with a proper educational background, and instill good cultural and moral beliefs in them. Couples are obligated to provide support for one another, respect each other's opinions and beliefs, be committed to the marriage, and provide protection from any form of harm.

In Summary 

Getting married in the Seychelles is simple and straightforward. Spouses may either perform a civil or religious ceremony to get married. There are various documents that must be submitted before contracting any marriage in the country, as stated earlier in this article.

The law states that foreign spouses must be in the country for at least 11 days before applying to marry; however, additional fees may be paid to obtain a special license. With the license, foreign spouses only need to be residents for 3 days before the scheduled wedding date. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriages in the Seychelles.

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