The Guide to Weddings in Tonga
You know who you want to spend the rest of your life with. You know that you want to get married in the beautiful islands of Tonga. Now, all you need to do is figure out how to make this work… Admittedly, the process for overseas nationals to get married in Tonga is quite a complex one to reflect the deeply religious society where marriage is a truly sacred union. Nevertheless, for the determined couple, a truly unique wedding awaits in the Kingdom of Tonga. Learn everything you need to know about getting married in Tonga in the guide below.
Reasons to Get Married in Tonga
- Stunning backdrops to your wedding ceremony, like secluded beaches, swaying palms and turquoise waters
- Marriage is a sacred union in Tongan society, giving your marriage a heightened sense of meaning
- A marriage certificate and Apostille stamp from Tonga is internationally recognised
- It provides the idyllic wedding and honeymoon experience all rolled up into one
- It’s a more off-the-beaten-track wedding destination in the South Pacific – you’re unlikely to know anyone else who has got married here
- It’s a good reason to spend more than a month in Tonga!
You Need to Make Sure That the Marriage is Legal
As mentioned, you have to jump through quite a few hurdles to legally get married in Tonga. Couples wishing to elope in Tonga will need to reside in the country for one month before they intend to wed, get permission from the Tonga Immigration Authority, and apply for a Special Marriage Licence at the Supreme Court Registry.
For a complete guide on the process, see the Marriage Requirements in Tonga. Otherwise, here’s an overview of everything you will need to get married in Tonga.
The Conditions for Getting Married in Tonga
As overseas residents wishing to get married in Tonga, you need to:
- Be over 18 years of age or have the consent of your parents to marry
- Apply for a permit from Tonga’s Immigration Authority before obtaining a marriage license from the Supreme Court Registry
- Reside in Tonga for at least one month before the intended wedding date.
Note that if you are on a student, employment or residency visa you do not need to apply to Tonga’s Immigration Authority for a permit.
Note #2, you will need to have an extended Visitor’s Visa to allow enough time to sort out the logistics for getting married in Tonga. Find out more about extending your visa in How Long Can You Stay in Tonga on a Visitor Visa?
Documents Required for a Tonga’s Immigration Authority Permit
Before you can get a marriage licence from the Supreme Court Registry of Tonga, you need to apply for an Immigration Authority Permit. For this, you need to provide the following documents:
- One passport photo of each party
- A photocopy of each party’s passport
- Certified copies of birth certificates for both parties
- If necessary, death certificate of spouse
- If divorced, a copy of the Decree Absolute
- An affidavit of no impediment to get married
- An affidavit stating parties have no criminal record
- Application fee (around TOP$345)
Note that affidavits can be done by a lawyer or by the Supreme Court.
Documents for the Special Marriage Licence in Tonga
Once the couple have been in the country for at least one month and have received their Immigration Authority Permit, they will need to apply for a “Special” Marriage Licence from the Supreme Court Registry. A Special Marriage Licence allows the involved parties to get married in Tonga without having to reside in the country for six months (which is the usual specification). For the Special Marriage Licence, you will need the following documentation:
- Joint application letter by bride and groom-to-be
- Affidavit of joint applicants stating their plans for marriage and their substantial link with Tonga
- Original Birth Certificate for each party
- Passport for each party
- Letter from Immigration where appropriate (the Immigration Authority Permit)
- Divorce decree where appropriate
- Letter from the church Minister
- Application fee (around TOP$32 for foreign passport holders).
Returning Your Marriage Certificate
Couples have 18 days in which to have the licence solemnised by a Minister and returned to the Supreme Court Registry, along with a Marriage Certificate. The marriage will then be registered.
Apostille of Marriage Certificate
Some foreign nationalities need an Apostille stamp on their Marriage Certificate to make the marriage legal in their home country. This can be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tonga.
Pick Your Dates Wisely
So you know that you want to get married in Tonga and you have a rough idea of how to get married in Tonga. The next question is: when?!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to “when” to get married in Tonga. First, you need to consider when you have over a month free in order to meet the requirements of the Special Marriage Licence and have time for the wedding ceremony. Second, you might also want to consider the season for the weather you ideally want to experience.
When to Arrive in Tonga for Your Wedding
By law, you need to be in the country for at least one month before you can apply for a Special Wedding Licence. On top of that, you might want to consider the fact that the Supreme Court Registry is closed on weekends and that the Immigration Authority Permit may take 2-3 days to process. So arrive in Tonga around a month and one week before your intended wedding date.
The Best Time to Plan a Tonga Wedding
You might want to consider what is the best time for you to have a wedding in Tonga. Tonga has two distinct seasons known as the wet season (summer) and the dry season (winter). The dry season is the most popular time for couples to get married in Tonga, with less chance of downpours to spoil your outside feet-in-the-sand wedding ceremony. However, that doesn’t mean that the wet season has constant rain, so some couples might be willing to take the chance in the wet season in exchange for discounted airfares and rates at resorts. See more benefits for visiting Tonga in the low season here.
Pick the Right Island for You
Tonga is home to some 170 islands, so choosing where to get married can be pretty overwhelming. However, it is worth taking the time to compare islands to make sure you get your wedding day right. Choose something easy, like a wedding in the heart of Nuku’alofa, just 30 minutes from Fua’amotu International Airport or get off the beaten track to a remote island with sandy shores in Vava’u.
We have done the hard work for you, summing up the wedding and honeymoon offerings on each island group with our Wedding & Honeymoon Guides. Start browsing and find your dream wedding destination in Tonga.