Cool balmy tropical winds. Baby blue skies splashed with pink and rust orange. Close friends beaming like the sun slipping down from its perch in the sky… Travel writer Shoba Pillai takes us through some of the things to look forward to when planning a destination wedding in Malaysia, and explains how to have a legal marriage in multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Southeast Asia.
Photo by Grant Corban
Couples who choose Malaysia as the destination for their wedding have a variety of landscapes to choose from – the sea or the highlands, the rainforest, or the city limits. Another plus factor of getting married in Malaysia is the cordial nature of the locals, who will always aim to assist as much as possible during your stay so that your wedding party and guests will have a memorable experience to cherish for the rest of their lives.
It is important to note the types of weddings available to couples flying in for their special day.
As a Muslim country, the laws that govern the land when it comes to marriage are divided into two aspects – syariah law and civil law.
Laws in Malaysia dictate that if one of the parties involved belongs to the Muslim faith, the other party has to embrace Islam before the union can take place. Couples who belong to any other faith besides Islam need to register their union with the District Registration Department, and have the option of following traditional religious ceremonies of their choice.
To get a marriage license in Malaysia, couples need to submit the following documents:
- Original copies of Birth Certificates and Passports
- 4 x passport photographs
- If one party is a divorcee, proof of Decree Absolute is required
- If one party is a widow/widower, copy of Death Certificate is required
Both parties need a statutory declaration stating their marital status from the British High Commission in Malaysia or from a local registrar in the UK (must not exceed 3 months validity from date of actual marriage).
Couples need to be in the country from a week to three weeks before the wedding takes place. A successful “Fast Track” Special License could be applied for at the Chief Minister’s Department in the relevant state. If they grant the license, the marriage needs to take place a month from the issue of the license.
The only rule for the day of the registration is that the couple need to have two witnesses over the age of 18 present at the time of solemnization. Their witnesses also need to have their passports with them at the time of signing. After that, it’s business as planned, wherever the wedding ceremony is to take place!
These days registrars in Malaysia are open to having the civil ceremony take place in locations besides the registration office.
Non-Muslim traditional religious marriage ceremonies are not legally recognised under the Registration of Marriages Ordinance 1952 and the Law Reform (Marriages and Divorce) Act 1976, unless the couple register their marriage with the Registration Department first.
UK residents need a letter of support from the local British High Commission stating they (the Commission) have no reason to oppose the union. The letter, which also comes with a disclaimer saying that the office is devoid of authority to issue such statements or “certificates of no impediment” with reference to a local marriage, is accepted by the Malaysian civil authorities.
The Commission needs the following documents to issue the letter:
- Divorce Certificates (if you have been previously married)
- Statutory Declaration made at the local High Court or at the office of a notary public
- British passport
- Your partner’s passport
- The relevant consular fee (for 2012, the cost is £65 or RM 319)
Once this has been passed to the couple, they have to get the letter legalised at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country’s administrative capital, Putrajaya (contact: +603-8887 4159).
The registrar may also need a supporting letter from their local UK registration office confirming that either party has ever been married.
To those couples looking forward to a tropical wedding abroad, Selamat Datang ke Malaysia!
Shoba Pillai is part of a trio who’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Check out www.jetsetjanes.wordpress.com for more articles on Malaysia.
We have lots of great weddings abroad advice on Confetti!