Court Wedding in Nigeria: Steps and Proceedings

Are you thinking of walking down the aisle with your significant other soon?

And you need information on how best to legalize your union?

Well, you’re on the right page.

Getting married at the registry which is also know as court wedding isn’t rocket science. But you have to get things right to save yourself any unnecessary hassles.

Visiting any of the marriage registries in the country for inquiries about your court wedding is the first step to legalizing your union in Nigeria. And in the course of this article, you’ll find out the necessary details

The court wedding is officially recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria as proof of a marriage contract between a couple.

court wedding in nigeria

According to the law, the court marriage is protected under the Marriage Act, Chapter 218 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

There are two Federal registries in the country. These are the Ikoyi registry which covers all residents in Lagos, South-South, South-East and South-West. Then, we have the Wuse 2 Registry which covers all those resident in the Northern region

Apart from these Federal registries, there are also registries at the State and Local Government levels.

Court wedding in Nigeria: Steps Involved

Here are the steps to take when preparing for your court wedding in Nigeria.

Step #1

Visit the registry of your choice to signify your marriage intention.

Step #2

You will be asked to obtain a form from the registry which indicates your intention to marry. The form is called a Notice Form or a Form A. You’re expected to fill details like name, age, address, occupation, marital status etc

Step #3

Along with the form, submit 2 coloured passport photographs

Afterwards, the form will be posted on the Notice board at the registry for 21 days. Also the notice is entered into a book called the Marriage Notice Book which may be inspected during office hours without a fee.

Step #4

Once the notice expires, you’re expected to pay a prescribed fee. The amount you pay is dependent on the registry you’re using.

Usually, the Registrar issues a Form C once you have met and satisfied the criteria.

The criteria include:

  • One of the parties is resident within the district in which the marriage is intended to be celebrated.
  • Each of the parties to the intended marriage (not being a widower or widow) is twenty-one years old, and if under that age, the consent hereinafter made requisite has been obtained in writing and is annexed to such affidavit (meaning you have to get written permission/consent from the bride-to-be’s parent or legal guardian).
  • That there is not any impediment of kindred or affinity, or any other lawful hindrance to the marriage.
  • That neither of the parties to the intended marriage is married by customary law to any person other than the person with whom such marriage is proposed to be contracted.

Once you have fulfilled the requirements as a couple.  The registrar signs a declaYou can proceed to step 5

Step #5

You’re expected to swear an affidavit befor the registrar or a recognized minister of religion. In the course of swearing affidavit, the registrar would reiterate the above requirements and explain the penalties involved.

If you violate any of the rules which include:

  1. One of the claimants being already married;
  2. One of the fiancés at the time of giving the written testimony is lying;
  3. False personal data are used at the wedding;
  4. The betrothed enter into marriage without relatives’ written consent (in certain cases);
  5. A person tries to impede the registration procedure under false pretenses
  6. The marriage was registered by an unauthorized official

Violation of any of this rule will lead to prosecution and the person may be jailed for up to five years.

The most common violation is one of the claimant being married and failing to properly dissolve his/her before entering into a new marriage.

However, if there’s no breach indicated the Registrar signs a declaration/affidavit to show that the couple understands the implications under the law and have met and satisfied all that has been required of them.

Step #6

Once the necessary consent, to the marriage has been obtained, the Minister will dispense with the giving of notice, issue the certificate, and grant his/her license, known as Form D. This form authorizes the celebration of a marriage between the parties named in such license.

Step #7

With the legal authorization granted, the couple then chooses a wedding date which should be within 3 months from the date the notice was placed with the registry.

Step #8

This is the wedding day. The couple comes along with their family members and friends. At this point the marriage is finalized. There are usually other couples that have come for the same reason. The ceremony is usually not longer than 30 minutes.

In the course of the proceedings, the Registrar would print the marriage certificates in duplicate and with counterfoils as in the FORM E.

If future newlyweds decide to go to church, it must be a licensed one under the leadership of an authorized cleric or religious group leader. However, it is crucial to have at least two witnesses.

Howver, if you’re a Christian and you intend to go to church for your wedding, it must be a licensed one under the leadership of an authorized cleric or religious group leader. However, it is crucial to have at least two witnesses which could be your parents.

The officiating minister is expected to fill up in duplicate the marriage certificate with the particulars required by Form E, and enter in the counterfoil the number of the certificate, the date of the marriage, names of the parties, and the names of the witnesses.

Afterwards, the certificate is then signed in duplicate by the officiating minister, by the parties, and by two or more witnesses to the marriage.

After that, the spouses take one of the copies of the marriage certificate. The second one is sent to the local Registry Office or the newlyweds may go to the Registry Office and register their marriage there.

Generally, every certificate of marriage should be filed in the Registrar’s office according to the FORM F.

And that’s it, you’re married, a court wedding in Nigeria is quite straight forward, you just need to follow the right steps.

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