Firstly, basic rules:
If both the bride and groom belong to the same religion, then they can have a religious wedding and it will be legal, provided they have a certificate from the officiating priest.
If not, or as in this case, the couple are complicating matters by being both of different religions AND of different countries, then the Special Marriage Act is the way to go.
Cutting through the legalese, what the couple is supposed to do is turn up at the office of the marriage registrar (special marriage act) with the following documents:
- Proof of age (for both)
- Proof of permanent residence (for both)
- Passport photos (for both)
- Proof that atleast one of the two has been resident in that district for more than 30 days (lease document, electricity/bsnl bill, letter from SHO, letter from employer)
- In case of a foreign national, no objection certificate from the embassy
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Those are the rules as I understand them. Legal details are available over here.
But. Life is not as it is supposed to be.
We had, and are having, a terrible experience with the process. The ADM (E) referred us to the ADM (F) a Vinod Kumar Suman. This man negated any possibility of our getting married in Dehradun . Not only do they want us to bring our witnesses at the time of application, as well as the time of registration, but they also wont accept our application anyways, since I am not domiciled here. That was a rotten meeting since a real conversation was not happening and we were being shouted at.
When I attempted to seek clarification about why he is asking for a domicile, the reply that was thundered back at me was, "How can you ask me something like this? Not all rules are written, what I say is the rule.'
So that about sums it up.
We are now looking at the Special marriage act in Pune, and also at the Hindu Marriage Act, and I will let you know how things go. But if you are planning on the registering your marriage, read up both the 'paper' rules and the 'real' rules. Lots of people at Indiamike are talking about international weddings, and the excellent White Indian Housewife has information about her experiences in Mumbai.
What else? It is not romantic, it is not pretty, it is not stressfree. But as Mian told me, 'this is not our sh*t, it is theirs'. What we have, and what you have, is removed from that. And that is worth focusing on when confronted by yet another corrupt, xenophobic, gutka-eating, greedy babu.