Huffpost Weddings

Getting Married In India

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In India, it's a wedding tradition for the bride to have mehndi designs, or henna tattoos, on her hands for the ceremony.
In India, it's a wedding tradition for the bride to have mehndi designs, or henna tattoos, on her hands for the ceremony.

Some couples are content to tie the knot at the courthouse down the road. But for those who are more adventurous, a destination wedding -- and an international marriage -- are a must. The Huffington Post's guide to international marriages will tell you everything you need to know to get legally married in India. Read on to ensure all of your paperwork is in order before booking your ticket. --Barbie Carpenter

Residency Requirement And Waiting Period

Individuals marrying in India must have proof that they have been in the country for at least 30 days prior to appearing before the local marriage registrar. There is a 30-day waiting period for couples marrying in India. Therefore, couples can expect to spend at least 60 days in India before exchanging vows.

Intent To Marry

India's Special Marriage Act (1954) requires the marriage registrar to post notice of a couple's impending marriage in the local newspaper as well as on the registrar office's notice board. During the 30-day waiting period, anyone can object to the marriage. If there is an objection, the marriage registrar will make a ruling on the objection, and the couple can go through an appeals process, if necessary. If there is no objection, the couple can marry after the notice has been posted for 30 days.

The Ceremony

Both religious and civil ceremonies are recognized in India. Additional Divisional Magistrates can perform civil ceremonies at the marriage registrar's office. Three witnesses must attend the civil ceremony, per the Special Marriage Act of 1954. Marriage certificates issued by most religious authorities are sufficient, and couples do not have to obtain an additional certificate from the marriage registrar. However, the Hindu Marriage Act, which applies to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists, requires couples married under these religions to obtain a marriage certificate through the marriage registrar, though their ceremony can be performed by a religious authority.

The Marriage Certificate

Couples must visit the local marriage registrar office, usually located in a court complex or municipal building, to obtain a marriage certificate. In many cases, each individual must secure a "no objection letter," which can be obtained through the U.S. Embassy and will state his or her "marital status and eligibility to marry." After a marriage is solemnized following the 30-day waiting period, couples will receive their marriage certificate as legal proof that they are married.

Legal Documentation

Couples who were married in a civil ceremony must provide a number of documents to the marriage registrar after exchanging vows. They must submit the "no objection letters" they obtained through the U.S. Embassy. In addition, they must provide a passport or birth certificate to verify their age. They also must prove that they have been in India for at least 30 days; a ration card can indicate length of stay. They also must submit two passport-sized photographs for each individual and a marriage photograph. Individuals who have been previously married must submit the divorce papers or death certificate of their former spouse.

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is not legal in India. In 2009, India's courts struck down Section 377 of the nation's penal code, which criminalized sexual acts between same-sex couples. While India has made strides in decriminalizing same-sex relationships, it has not legalized same-sex marriage.

Additional Information

Both the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act include lengthy provisions about prohibited marriages in India. "Full blood" and "half blood" relatives cannot marry, as well as any family members related through adoption.

View the full set of laws and regulations regarding marriage in India.

Learn more about getting married abroad here.