How to Get Married in Kenya – Destination Wedding Advice from a wedding planner expert
My name is Julie Chege, I am an event planner by profession at Ashley’s Events. We have planned loads and loads of destination weddings here in Kenya. For this reason, I am here to provide trusted, independent, information and advice to couples planning their wedding in Kenya.
I have designed this article to help you with every legal stage of planning a destination wedding in Kenya. I have realized that destination weddings are becoming more and more popular as more couples in the diaspora are making the decision to get married in Kenya.
Some of these destination weddings are either by Kenyans Living abroad or other nationalities who want to exchange vows while on safari. Kenya, for sure is a beautiful country with picturesque scenery and outstanding landscapes, some of which make it the ultimate wedding destination.
The country has an amazing selection of wedding venues that will suit your destination dreams. For example, a wedding in the wild will entice your imagination of nature and wildlife, on the other hand, imagine yourself getting married at the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Can you just imagine neat palm trees and a beautiful and gentle breeze blowing across your faces as you recite your vows.
What about the landscape of Rift Valley? Breathtaking!
Let us stop the imagination and get to business because if you have not completed the following legal steps I am going to share below, the above imagination will just remain as imagination.
But Wait! Before we think of the legalities let’s first think of what kind of wedding you are looking to have in Kenya.
If you wish to celebrate your wedding in Kenya, there are a few options available:
All types of wedding ceremonies are recognized under Kenyan law: for example, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and traditional Kenyan.
The Kenyan registrar will hold records of Christian ceremonies, and marriage certificates are issued for Christian, Hindu and Islamic ceremonies.
Affidavits are issued for traditional African ceremonies.
For some religious ceremonies in Kenya, it’s very important that you contact your church and the registrar of marriages for information and requirements, paperwork, and terms and conditions. This is because, for example, one thing you may need to know is what act your chosen church falls under—
many Kenyan churches use the African Christian Marriage & Divorce Act, which is unsuitable for non-Africans who can only get married under the Marriage Act (Cap 150/1).
A civil ceremony can be arranged if a religious ceremony isn’t for you, or if you would simply prefer to get married in a special location.
Civil ceremonies in Kenya can be held anywhere from a registrar office to a venue of your choice—
as long as the venue holds a special wedding license. Make sure you check this beforehand!
Blessings / Renewal of Vows
Couples can organize to have a blessing ceremony to celebrate their union, or married couples may choose to renew their vows. These can take place in a choice of beautiful locations and with very little paperwork, though no official certificates are supplied.
Now that is covered, let’s think about the wedding paperwork.
What’s the Wedding Paperwork?
As soon as you decide on the type of wedding you want, and the location, you’ll need to contact the registrar general in Nairobi with all of the necessary documentation in order to receive a marriage license.
Contact your Destination Wedding planner.
Make Wedding Enquiry Message to us. Leave the stress of planning your wedding, Ashley’s Events have been in business for the last 15 years, we can plan your destination wedding, you actually get here in Kenya a few days before your wedding and everything will be on point. Visit our website for more information. www.ashleys-events.com
What are the legal requirements to get married in Kenya?
- The legal age for marriage is 21 years for both men and women. If women are between 16 and 20 years and men are between 18 and 20 years then parental consent is required.
- Bride and Groom may not be related by blood, marriage or adoption.
- Two witnesses are required
- Same-sex marriages are not permitted in Kenya.
How long do I have to be a resident in Kenya before I can get married?
You will need to arrive in Kenya at least four days in advance of your wedding in order to finalize all the paperwork.
You will need to be in the country to apply for a Special License in person at the Registrar General in Nairobi and then approval can take up to approximately 4 days. For an ordinary marriage license, you have to give 21 days’ notice, which is why most non-residents opt for a Special License.
Proof of departure from the country e.g. Airline ticket will help speed up the process.
How do I get a marriage license?
You must take the papers mentioned below to the Registrar Office, Sheria House, Nairobi.
- Kenya Marriage Registrar’s Office
- Registrar General
- Sheria House
- 2nd Floor, Room 208
- P.O. Box 30031
- Nairobi Tel: +254 020 227 461
What legal papers do I need to take with me?
- Passports and photocopies.
- Full birth certificates and photocopies.
- The Tourist Card when you entered Kenya.
- Certificate of Single Status which you can obtain from your home country.
- If you have been divorced then the final divorce papers must be shown.
- If you are widowed then the death certificate of your previous spouse must be shown, and a copy, and your former marriage certificate.
- If you have changed your name then deed poll proof must be shown, stamped by a solicitor.
Disclaimer: This information is for guidance purposes only and liable to change without notice. Please check with your wedding planner or Kenyan embassy in your country