Kenya, an increasingly popular wedding destination for couples who wish to marry abroad, is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with its dramatic forests, magnificent mountains, and vast savannah plains. Read on for Confetti.co.uk’s guide to getting married in Kenya!
Many couples are choosing to marry abroad, and Kenya is a growing favourite location. Though it may seem like a very difficult thing to organise, it’s not as big of an operation as it first appears—especially if you invest in the right support, such as a wedding planner or tour operator.
What Kind of Wedding Ceremonies Can I Have in Kenya?
If you wish to celebrate your wedding in Kenya, there are a few options available:
All types of wedding ceremonies are recognised 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’d simply prefer to get married in a special location. Civil ceremonies in Kenya can be held anywhere from a register office to a venue of your choice—as long as the venue holds a special wedding license. Make sure you check this beforehand!
Couples can organise 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.
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 special marriage license. Afterward, you’ll then need to arrive in Kenya at least four days in advance of your wedding in order to finalise all the paperwork.
The paperwork needed to apply for a special license includes:
Residency: Residency in Kenya is usually 21 days, so a couple should notify their church and the office of the registrar general at least 21 days before the wedding date. However, if this isn’t possible, (e.g. a couple are due to arrive in Kenya only a few days prior to the wedding) a special licence can be obtained beforehand by contacting the registrar of marriages at the registrar’s office in Kenya. With this, no period of residency is necessary and it means the marriage will still be recognised under the Marriage Act.
Proof of ID: You’ll need to produce your original birth certificates, valid 10‐year passports, and visas. If you’re adopted, all adoption papers must be provided.
Proof of Status: A statutory declaration (an affidavit) must be obtained from a solicitor or notary that states both you and your partner are single and free to marry. This must be stamped and sealed and state the words “solicitor”, “notary public”, “Commissioner of Oaths”, or similar. Handwritten documents are not accepted.
Divorced: If you’re divorced you must produce your Decree Absolute with a court stamp.
Widowed: If either you or your partner is widowed, you must provide the death certificate of your deceased spouse and a previous marriage certificate.
Age Restrictions: If you’re under 21, you’ll need to obtain parental consent in the form of a statutory declaration (an affidavit) stamped and signed by a solicitor.
Name change: All relevant paperwork must be provided; if your name has been changed by Deed Poll, you must provide legal proof stamped and signed by a solicitor. This also applies if you’re divorced and have reverted back to your maiden name.
Marrying in a Church: If you plan to marry in a church, it’s helpful to supply a supporting letter from your home priest / pastor.
If your paperwork isn’t in English, an official translation should be attached to the originals.
Stunning Kenyan Wedding Opportunities
Part of the beauty of getting married in Kenya is that you can combine a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your wedding and honeymoon. To name only two, luxury safari weddings and stunning beach weddings are beautiful Kenyan wedding possibilities.
The Kenyan inland offers countless thrills and excitement. It’s an adventurer’s dream with the peaks of Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro, and the open savannah plains that are home to the country’s magnificent wildlife. Such a romantic and tranquil setting is perfect for you to say your “I do”s.
Private conservation areas offer some of the most wonderful locations to see the Kenyan wildlife, including Africa’s “Big Five” (elephants, lions, buffaloes, cheetahs, and rhinos) and other important species. For example, safari camps are set within enormous areas of pristine wilderness and offer perfect settings for very special civil ceremonies or blessings, and the renewal of vows.
In safari camps, wedding ceremonies can be arranged at private, scenic viewpoints with stunning vistas across the game-filled landscape. Maasai traditional customs and blessings can be included to make an extraordinary, spiritual experience.
Most people probably envisage the savannah plains and Mount Kilimanjaro when they think of Kenya, but the Kenyan coastline is also a perfect destination, especially for the couples dreaming of an exotic wedding on or near a tropical beach. Filled with pristine white sandy beaches, Kenya’s coastline meets with the stunning blue of the Indian Ocean in an idyllic paradise where you can quietly relax or enjoy a variety of fun activities like water sports.
A broad range of luxury and boutique hotels on the Kenyan coast offers civil ceremonies or blessings / renewal of vows overlooking the sea or surrounded by colourful tropical gardens. Wedding ceremonies can even be arranged on the water, such as in a traditional dhow boat. For that extra special touch, you might even want to look at finding an exclusive use venue!
All visitors require an entry visa. This can be obtained from the Kenyan High Commission in London or on arrival in Kenya.
How’s the Weather?
Kenya is split in half by the equator. North of the equator, it’s hot and receives very little rain. South of the equator, it falls into three zones: the coast is humid; the highlands are temperate; and the Lake Victoria region is tropical.
Kenya National Tourist Office
Confetti.co.uk makes reasonable efforts to obtain data from reliable sources and to keep the contents reasonably accurate. However, specifications and requirements may change and Confetti.co.uk cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the content or information. We strongly advise you to consult other sources of information, including local lawyers and the embassies or consulates of the countries in question.
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Leanne manages Confetti's Instagram account (@confettiwedding) and is one of Confetti's article writers. She enjoys being a highly creative person with a life-long passion for art and creative writing; she has a determined dream of becoming a published author. She values giving help and advice to everyone she can, and loves talking to new people.