Court wedding in Nigeria is fast becoming a norm among its citizens. It is the only legally recognized means in which the country and state accept that a couple is married.
The court(civil)wedding in Nigeria is the easiest and fastest way to get married. It is very straight forward and doesn’t require a lot of back and forth.
Although the traditional wedding ceremony is still of utmost importance. The groom is still required to pay a bride price before he is seen as married. Only then is he accepted by the bride’s family as a son in law
I got married at the marriage registry in Ikoyi , Lagos in April 2019. Here is what you need to know about the court wedding in Nigeria (Ikoyi Registry).
The requirements for the court wedding procedure is really basic which includes –
- One passport photograph each of intended couple
- Photocopy of birth certificate (one copy each)
- Affidavit of bachelorhood/spinsterhood
- Valid ID card
- Valid Gmail account/Email.
- A fee of thirty five thousand naira (35,000)
THE COURT WEDDING IN NIGERIA PROCEDURE (IKOYI REGISTRY)
There are two types of marriage certificates that are issued. The special and ordinary marriage license respectively.
I paid for the ordinary marriage license since both my spouse and I are based in Nigeria. The special marriage certificate is issued to those who have a spouse living/based abroad.
On getting to the registry you will encounter different categories of people. From vendors selling their goods and services to those looking for people to swindle. Try being really careful so as not to be defrauded.
I went straight to the office to make my inquiry. From what I read on the official website the official fee for the ordinary marriage license is twenty-one thousand naira. I however paid thirty-five thousand to one of the registry officials.
After payment, a form was given to me to fill on behalf of me and my spouse. The details of the form include your name, occupation, state of origin, date of birth, parent’s occupation e.t.c. Make sure you have your spouse on speed dial. Just in case you encounter a question you don’t have the answer to. Or if your spouse is available let him go along with you.
After filling the form, I got a notification a few days later via email that my request for the ordinary marriage had been filed.
On the form, there is a slot provided where you input your preferred date for your court wedding. The date should be at least 21 days after the form is filled.
Please note that the form given to me can also be filled on their official website. You don’t have to give money to any official. You can also make the payment yourself by following the guidelines already provided on the site. The choice is yours, I gave money to the registry official because it is less stressful. I heard that if you do all the proceedings yourself via the website. There is always a mix up at the registry. Guess we are not completely digital in Nigeria yet.
After filling the required forms at the registry. I was told to come back on the week of my court wedding for oath swearing with my spouse. This is always done every Monday at the registry for intending couples. I was told that this was compulsory. The official informed me that if we didn’t attend my spouse and I wouldn’t be wedded. Unfortunately, my spouse wasn’t available for the oath swearing so I had to go alone.
Please note that the oath swearing is just a waste of time. I think it’s a means officials in cahoots with the vendors use to filch money from unsuspecting couples.
On the day of said oath swearing. I arrived at the venue and was told to write my name at the entrance. Inside the hall, they had different counsellors to come speak to the intending couples about marriage.
Of course, they also had a marriage counselling book for sale which they made mandatory for couples to buy. After the counselling, the photographers in the registry snapped a picture of the couples one after the other for the sum of five hundred naira each. This was the most laughable part because I don’t think those pictures were even given to the couples. Also, the reason given for taking the pictures was so flimsy. I was surprised people were even lining up to take them.
The officials said for official use or something like that. I didn’t partake in the photo-snapping as I didn’t have my spouse with me. Trust me if you don’t attend the oath swearing you would still get married on your preferred chosen date.
WEDDING DAY BROUHAHA
It is advised that you get to the wedding registry really early. Couples are wedded based on a first come first serve basis. The officials don’t start wedding couples until about 9 -10 am. People arrive there as early as 6 am to get numbers so as to be done on time. My husband arrived before I did at past 8 am and was number 70 or thereabout. The couples are divided into three halls according to the numbers picked and sit to await their turn. By my count, I know at least 130 couples were wedded on the day of my court wedding ceremony.
Trust Nigeria with “hidden charges”, on the day of the wedding we still spent more money. I still think these amounts of money are shared by the officials and doesn’t go into the government account.
We spent money on –
- ‘’Ticket’’ to enter the hall – 1,000
- Scroll and act – 1,000
- Presentation of certificate – 1,000
- Wedding certificate – 2,000
The halls are quite small so couples are advised to limit their guests to the barest minimum because of the seating arrangement. Some people still go ahead and invite all their family and friends for a procedure that takes less than fifteen minutes in total.
The guests aren’t allowed to enter the halls till its time for their couple to get married. There are vendors outside who provide chair for people to sit on for the sum of 200 hundred naira per chair.
They have a number of vendors at the venue, from those renting out suits and wedding gowns to those selling rings and of course the photographers, videographers and makeup artists.
The makeup artists had packages as low as three thousand naira, as for the others I suggest you arrive with your own photographers/videographers as the vendors at the court registry are a bit too exorbitant.
They even have local talking drummers who will hype you for a token amount as you step out of the wedding hall.
It is advisable that intending couples adhere strictly to the laid down rules as regards the number of guests/witnesses allowed. this will curb the problem of over crowding.
I believe that the laid down rules will have been tightened by now . especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
What are your thoughts as regards the court wedding procedure? are you married /what was your experience like?