About marriage… legally speaking, can I get married in a garden or on the beach?  

Unfortunately some uncertainty is caused by our Marriage Act 25 of 1961 vs a court ruling. The  Act lists the requirements for a valid marriage. 

According to section 29(2) of the Act, a marriage officer should solemnize a marriage IN a
i.                   Church;
ii.                  Building used for religious service;
iii.                 Public office; or
iv.                 Private dwelling house with open doors.

In the case of Ex Parte Dow the couple married in a garden. The husband applied to court for an order to declare the union null and void. The court, however, dismissed this application and ordered that section 29(2) was to avoid couples tying the knot in secret.

Please note that Ex Parte Dow was decided in the Durban and Coastal Division of the High Court. Remember that the High Court in Cape Town is not bound by the ruling of the High Court in Durban or elsewhere. 

Just to be on the safe side:
–          Unless you are getting married in Durban, please also follow up your outdoor ceremony ‘legally’ by signing the relevant documents in one of the buildings mentioned above.The parties to a wedding and two competent witnesses must sign the register.

Legal Hero  

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