With its seemingly endless savannah plains, rugged mountainous interior, ancient rainforests and beautiful coastline it is no wonder that Kenya is an increasingly popular wedding destination. Couples are choosing to combine their special day with a holiday of a lifetime including the thrills of a luxury safari and time to relax on the pristine white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean.
The guaranteed sunshine of the African climate (if you avoid the main rainy season between April and May) means that there is one less thing to worry about in the run up to your big day.
If you think that to get married in Kenya there will be a plethora of paperwork and official red tape then think again. A wedding ceremony is relatively simple to organise if you receive the correct support and advice of a tour operator or wedding planner.
Kenya offers a variety of wedding options – you can have a religious ceremony in a church, a civil ceremony in a Register Office or a civil ceremony, blessing or renewal of vows in a beautiful setting such as a luxury safari camp or an upmarket beach hotel.
Christian, Islamic, Traditional African and Hindu ceremonies are all possible and recognised under Kenyan law. The Kenyan Registrar will hold records of Christian ceremonies and Marriage Certificates are issued for those and for Hindu and Islamic ceremonies. Affidavits are issued for traditional African ceremonies.
It is important to note that many Kenyan churches use the African Christian Marriage & Divorce Act which is not suitable for non-Africans who can only get married under the Marriage Act (Cap 150/1), so ensure that you check this with your chosen church when you contact them for all their relevant terms / conditions and paperwork.
Couples wanting an Islamic, Hindu or African ceremony should contact the Registrar of Marriages in the first instance to get further information on the terms and conditions.
If a Religious Ceremony is not for you, or if you’d prefer to wed in a special location, a Civil Ceremony can be arranged. In Kenya a Civil Ceremony can be held in a Register Office or at a venue that holds a Special License for weddings (check this in advance).
Couples can organize to have a blessing ceremony to celebrate their union or married couples may choose to renew their vows. These types of event can take place in a choice of beautiful locations and with very little paperwork, though no official certificates are supplied.
A couple would normally need to notify their church and the office of the Registrar General at least 21 days before the wedding date. However a Special License can be issued from the Registrar of Marriages if this requirement cannot be met (i.e. if a couple are due to arrive in Kenya just a few days before the wedding). This enables the marriage to still be recognised under the Marriage Act.
A Special License is also required for a Civil Ceremony at a venue other than a Register Office.
Before travel you will need to send certain documents (see below) to the Registrar of Marriages in order to apply for the Special License. You will then need to arrive in Kenya at least 4 days in advance of your wedding in order to finalise all the paperwork.
The following documentation is required (and if not in English an official translation should be attached to the originals):
Where better to celebrate your wedding than in a romantic and tranquil setting, within stunning scenery and surrounded by the sounds of the bush. It is no wonder that such a scene set the ambiance for Prince William to propose to Kate Middleton – this is where their fairy tale began.
But you don’t have to be Royalty to get treated as such in Kenya. Service comes with a genuine smile from people that want your stay to be as perfect as you do.
To ensure a personal experience head for a private conservation area – these are Africa’s best kept secret. These exclusive game reserves are away from the crowds and have unsurpassed game-viewing with the opportunity to see all of Africa’s “Big Five” as well as many other important species.
For example, the multi award-winning Porini Safari Camps offer perfect settings for unique civil ceremonies, renewal of vows or blessings. The camps are each set on vast areas of pristine wilderness, away from other camps and lodges. Porini guests benefit from top-quality game drives in areas set aside exclusively for their enjoyment – these private drives get close to nature without other tourist vehicles spoiling the view.
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 a very special and spiritual experience.
A Wedding Package includes:
With optional extras such as:
Many couples dream of an exotic wedding on an idyllic white beach – and Kenya’s beautiful coastline is perfect. A broad range of luxury and boutique hotels on the Kenya coast offer civil ceremonies or blessings / renewal of vows surrounded by colourful tropical gardens or overlooking the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Ceremonies on the ocean can also be arranged – in a traditional dhow boat. To feel extra-special, it is worth looking for a hotel that guarantees only one wedding per day.
For example, Pinewood Village Beach Resort & Spa is set on the stunning Galu Beach and a typical Wedding Package includes:
With optional extras such as:
Whether you are planning a quiet, low-key ceremony with just the two of you or whether you have big plans for a large family celebration your tour operator or wedding planner can help you devise your dream wedding.