Christian Marriage Process in India

Details on Christian marriages in India, including the special laws of the state of Goa…

To get married under the Christian Marriage Act one or both of the parties must be Christian. The Act does not specify that the parties must be Indian citizens.

  • The procedure begins with one of the parties giving written notice to the minister of religion, stating intention to marry, full name, address and profession of both parties, the time each has lived at address (the 30-day residency requirement must be met), and the church in which the marriage is to be solemnised
  • Following this, a notice is put up in a conspicuous part of the church for at least four days
  • A declaration is then made in person by one of the parties stating that there is no lawful reason why the marriage cannot go ahead, along with consent from bride’s father, mother or guardian (if she is under 21)
  • A certificate is issued by the minister and the marriage may be solemnised. The marriage needs to happen within two months of the certificate being issued, otherwise the whole process must be repeated

During the ceremony the marriage is registered in a register book and also on a certificate signed by the minister, the couple and two credible witnesses. A copy of the certificate is then sent on by the minister to the registrar of births, deaths and marriages.

Following solemnisation and registration, the marriage is complete and considered legal. There is normally no requirement to register the marriage with the respective embassies of the bride and groom.

If a couple wish to marry under the Christian Marriage Act with a marriage registrar rather than a religious minister present the procedure differs slightly. The notice declaring intent to marry must be sent to the marriage registrar of the relevant district instead of the minister of religion. An oath before the marriage registrar must be taken by one of the persons intending to marry. A certificate is then issued to the couple permitting the marriage to be solemnised.

Goan Law

The Christian state of Goa is ruled by Portuguese laws and therefore has different procedures to the rest of India. There are two stages.

In the first stage, the couple must initially appear before a judge in court along with four witnesses. Following this, both parties fill in a declaration of marriage before the Civil Registrar. A public notice is then affixed for 10 days (including two Sundays). If no objections are received within this period then the marriage can go ahead.

The second stage is the ceremony and registration of the marriage.

There is a 30-day residency requirement for couples wishing to get married in Goa.