A ‘church’ wedding does not confer any legal status on a marriage if such a church is not licensed. Often times, a church wedding is always mistaken for a ‘Statutory marriage’ but that is very far from the truth. If a church marriage does not comply with the processes laid down in the Marriage Act, then it is not legal. For a church marriage to be legal, it must be celebrated in a licensed place of worship.
Registration of a church under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) does not necessarily make it a licensed place of worship for celebration of marriages. Popularity and recognition of a Church also does not automatically make it licensed. For example: the Catholic Church is recognized however without the requisite license, it cannot LEGALLY conduct marriages.
A license must be applied for and issued by the Minister of Interior. A license is specific and not a blanket arrangement. Thus, a church that has 300 branches must have all branches licensed respectively.
A church wedding will be null and void if it is not celebrated in a licensed place of worship and whoever performs or witnesses as a marriage officer of such a ceremony will be liable to imprisonment for five (5) years.
So that brings me to ask: are most of the ‘Church Weddings’ we know or have attended, legal?
Sections 6, 33(2)(a) and 42 of the Marriage Act
NDIDI NED-NWOGU – Probono Partner