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English Marriages Outside Marriage Registries and Churches Are Valid.

English Marriages Outside Marriage Registries and Churches Are Valid

English Marriages Outside Marriage Registries and Churches Are Valid. Daily Law Tips (Tip 663) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)


There are basically two types of marriages in Nigeria; Customary marriage and English marriage. While Customary marriage (including Islamic marriage) allows polygamy, English marriage is a union between a man and a woman. English marriage (also known as Statutory Marriage, Court Marriage and White Wedding) is highly regulated by a law. Generally, English marriage must start from a Marriage Registry but can end in a place of worship (church). 

However, there are exceptions to this; where a valid English marriage can be conducted outside courts (Marriage Registries) and churches, like you find celebrity weddings being held in private homes, boats and stadiums. This work reveals the exceptional situations where an English marriage can be held outside a court (Marriage Registry) or a church. 

Marriage Registries, Churches and Special Licenses: 

The Marriage Act is a federal law made since 1914, that regulates the creation/formation of English marriages in Nigeria. Generally, English marriage must start from the office of the Registrar of Marriages (Marriage Registry), and prospective couples are allowed to complete their marriage exercise in the office of the Registrar in the presence of at least 2 witnesses or to complete it in a licensed place of worship in the presence of at last 2 witnesses. Click to read my work titled;  “3 Steps to a Valid English Marriage”.

However, the Minister of Interior can give a Special License to a prospective couple allowing them to be married/wedded outside a court (Marriage Registry) and a licensed place of worship (church). The license can also allow a prospective couple to be married without necessary notices and documents required in a Marriage Registry and of prospective couples. 

The condition upon which the Minister of Interior can make such licenses is that the prospective couple must have an affidavit, showing that there is no legal impediment (barrier) against the marriage and that necessary consent has been obtained. With a special licence, any Registrar of Marriage or Clergy of any recognised religious body is free to wed a prospective couple in any place whatsoever stated in the Special License between 8:00am and 6:00pm. A special license is also called “FORM D”. 


There can be a valid English marriage outside a Marriage Registry and a church, so far as there is a special license/approval from the Minister of Interior. This is the basis upon which some people (including celebrities and politicians) hold valid English marriages in private clubs, gardens, homes, stadiums, pavilions, boats and tents, that are not religious places or Marriage Registry. This is an exception to the normal practise of having celebration of marriages (weddings) in the Marriage Registries or Churches. By the way, any person can obtain a Special License and celebrate marriage in anywhere.  Click to read my works on Marriage in Nigeria. 


  1. Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 13, 23 and 29 of the Marriage Act, 1914. 










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