Bali Weddings

by Jennifer Cram (27/07/2016 - Updated 25/09/2019 to reflect projected changes in Indonesian law) Categories: | Wedding Legals | Wedding Planning |
Bali signOK, before we get too excited, let's cut to the chase. I don't do weddings in Bali. Before you click that back button, or head to Google to find a celebrant who will travel to Bali, let me tell you not only why I don't do that, but why it is a very bad idea for an Australian couple to hire an Australian celebrant for a wedding (legal or non-legal) in Bali, or for that matter, pretty well anywhere else.
  1. It is going to cost you a lot more than using a local in-country based celebrant because you are going to have to pick up the cost of both flights and accommodation.
  2. You'll be using a celebrant who is highly unlikely to have a solid network of local contacts, so you won't be able to rely on them or their network if one of your other vendors lets you down.
  3. Your celebrant will almost invariably be working as an illegal foreigner on a tourist visa.
  4. Your celebrant is authorised to officiate a legal marriage only in Australia, so once you get 12 km offshore from the Australia coastline, an Australian celebrant can only perform a commitment or non-legal ceremony and if you want to be legally married you'll need to make local arrangements for that, which involves both a civil registrar and a local religious clergy person.

Number 3 is the biggie. The last thing you want is for your celebrant to be either denied entry into the country, or frogmarched out of it before your ceremony takes place. And of course, Number 4 means that you either have to get other officials involved, which can be expensive, time-consuming, or have very restrictive conditions.

How to get legally married in Bali

It is possible to marry legally in Bali, but only if Review of Jennifer Cram, Brisbane Marriage
  • you are a heterosexual couple, and
  • you are both members of one of the five religions recognised by Indonesia (Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, and Protestantism). Mixed marriages (religion-wise) or marriages of persons who do not belong to one of those religions are not legal.
Marriages under Indonesian law are performed by religious ministers and the Catatan Sipil (civil registrar); or by the Kantor Urusan Agama (Directorate of Islamic Religion Affairs) in the case of Islamic marriages.

What this means is that, in order to be legally married
  • you must declare your religion to the Civil Registry Office
  • you must have two ceremonies  on the same day and at the same place - a religious ceremony and a civil ceremony
  • if you are Catholics those ceremonies must take place in a Catholic Church. If you are Buddhist, Hindu, or Protestant Christians, you can hold the ceremonies at a venue of your choice.
  • if you are not a Muslim couple, you need to submit an Intention to Marry document together with other documentation (see below)

The paperwork required includes

  • A Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage. You will have to apply for this at ;the Australian Consulate in Denpasar, but may be required to go to Jakarta to do this. It has to be done during public office hours, and willinvole you signing a declaration, producing your passports (plus divorce/death certificate if you've been previously married, documentary evidence of any name changes, plus your birth certificates), and photographs of you with the groom on the left-hand-side. Your shoulders must be covered in these photos. You need to allow time for this as the application may not be processed on the same day.
  • Pay a fee - which must be paid in Rupiah. Make sure you have cash.
  • Make arrangements with the religious minister and the civil registrar (not necessarily easy if you don't speak the language).
  • Possibly arrange for a translator.

And you really should have a good long discussion with your lawyers here in Australia about what steps you need to take to ensure you are not married in community of property. NB the legal conditions under which you marry differ quite markedly from Australia in a number of countries. Community of property is quite common. This basically means all property acquired during the marriage becomes joint property of a married couple. This is not the case when you marry under Australian law.

But there are also other legal implications of marrying in Indonesia. In Indonesia, the husband is considered to be the head of a family, while the wife is the housewife. As the head of the family, a husband is "required to protect his wife and provide the household necessities, according to his capacity. A wife is required to manage the household affairs the best she can". 

A much simpler solution is to have your lovely non-legal "wedding" and celebration of your love and commitment to one another, but marry legally in Australia either before or after your weddingmoon.**  An added benefit of doing that is that you will not need to present any documentation to keep using the name you used before marriage, and your marriage certificate will be all you need if you wish to change your name.

**With the projected implementation of an Adultery Law, making sex between unmarried persons punishable by flogging and prison terms, you'd be wise to legally marry before you head off to Bali for a symbolic ceremony/wedding celebration, and to make sure you pack your Marriage Certificate.

Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant