The Guide to Planning Your Wedding in Tonga
A wedding in the remote South Pacific nation of Tonga is unique, spiritual and utterly beautiful. Picture white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and swaying palms on islands away from the world. Marriage has a deep and religious meaning in Tonga, which reflects in the relatively complicated process for couples to elope here. Nevertheless, those who put the effort into creating their dream wedding are often rewarded with a wedding that exceeds expectations. So, find out how to make your dreams a reality with this guide on how to organise your wedding in Tonga.
Before we jump into the guide to planning your wedding in Tonga, you might also like to check out The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga and 10 Romantic Things to Do in Tonga for Couples for more wedding tips.
Can You Get Married in Tonga?
Before you do anything – pick your venue, get a marriage licence, etc. – you need to know whether you are legally able to get married in Tonga.
To get married in Tonga, both you and your partner need to:
- Be over 18 years of age or have the consent of your parents to marry
- Be single, divorced or widowed
- Apply for a permit from Tonga’s Immigration Authority before obtaining a marriage licence from the Supreme Court Registry
- Reside in Tonga for at least one month before the intended wedding date.
Choose When to Get Married
A good place to start organising your wedding in Tonga is by choosing a date to get married. This not only means picking a season to get married but also making sure you have enough time to sort out the legalities before you get married.
First, pick a season. Tonga has two distinct seasons, the summer season (wet season) and the winter season (dry season). Although Tonga experiences warm temperatures year-round, summer can be much more hot and humid, while winter is cooler and drier. Rain can happen at any time of the year, but summer sees more rainfall than in winter. Plus, certain activities in Tonga are seasonal, so if you want a whale breaching in the background of your wedding photos, you’ll have to come between June and October, for instance. Learn more about the seasons in What are the Seasons in Tonga?
Next, you need to pick a wedding date that will work with the logistics of organising a legal wedding in Tonga. Overseas residents must be in the country for at least one month before they can get a Marriage Licence. Then note that the registry office is not open on weekends and that it might take a whole day to process. You also need a permit from Immigration to get married, which takes 3-4 days. All in all, you need to choose a time of the year where you’ll be able to put at least a month and a week aside to get married in Tonga.
Choose a Wedding Destination
Tonga is made up of around 170 islands across five different island groups. Each have their own charms and reasons to choose them for your wedding. You might want to get married on one of the picture-perfect uninhabited islands of Ha’apai, get an idyllic island wedding combined with adventure honeymoon activities in Vava’u, or keep things simple and easy in Tongatapu.
Check out what the following Tonga destinations can offer couples wishing to wed and/or honeymoon:
Choose a Wedding Venue
There are two schools of thought when it comes to wedding venues in Tonga, the island beach wedding or the religious church wedding.
Many couples from overseas choose Tonga for its glorious island landscapes. For that, more and more resorts and hotels are offering wedding services, where they can provide stunning indoor and outdoor wedding venues, as well as arrangements for decorations, entertainment and catering. Some of the resorts known for their wedding services include:
- Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Tongatapu
- Vakaloa Beach Resort, Tongatapu
- Mandala Island Resort, Vava’u
- Tongan Beach Resort, Vava’u
Tonga is also a highly religious country with the dominant faith being Methodist, while all other religions are a denomination of Christianity. Organising a church wedding in Tonga is best done through your own church and its contacts. Bear in mind that some faiths require additional documentation for a religious service.
Sort Out the Legalities
Although the legalities for couples from overseas wishing to get married in Tonga is a more arduous process than what’s experienced in other countries, those who are determined enough can still enjoy a unique wedding in Tonga. Not to mention, more than a month in this beautiful island nation!
The legalities to organise in Tonga include:
- An extended Visitor’s Visa
- A permit to get married from the Immigration Division
- A Special Marriage Licence
- An Apostille Seal (if required by home country)
Check out our guide to the complete process of the marriage paperwork for Tonga in What are the Marriage Requirements in Tonga?