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Get Married Here

…a memorable place

When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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If you want an unusual place for your wedding, choose St Helena.

This page is in indexes: Island Detail Saint Helena Island Info Get Married HereIsland Detail

Get Married Here Saint Helena Island Info

Below: Anyone can get married here!PhotosSome historyRead More

Anyone can get married here! 

Resident Saints, other Saints, non-Saints and other non-residents can all get married on St Helena.

You have a choice of three types of venue:

  • The Castle, in a civil ceremony conducted by the State;

  • Any other secular venue licenced for the purpose{1}, in a civil ceremony conducted by the State; and

  • a Church, in a religious ceremony conducted by a cleric.

Some churches impose restrictions on who can get married in their church. Most will only marry people who are members of their faith; the Anglicans will not marry divorced people; and no church, as far as we are aware, will marry a same-sex couple{2}. There are no such restrictions in the first two venues.

If you want to get married in St Helena you should probably first contact the Tourist Office, who can obtain and provide you with the most up-to-date list of licenced venues.

Wedding party in the Charabanc Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here
Wedding party in the Charabanc{a}

Photos 

Until recently the only places to get married were The Castle or a church, but in either case the normal place to take the wedding photos has traditionally been Castle Gardens{3}:

Wedding picture 01 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Wedding picture 02 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Wedding picture 03 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Wedding picture 04 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Wedding picture 05 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Wedding picture 06 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Wedding picture 07 Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

This was not, however, always the case. Here are some example older wedding photos:

1911 unknown location Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here
1911, unknown location

1911 Homagee wedding Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here
1911, Homagee wedding

1941 St. James’ Church Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here
1941, St. James’ Church

1970s Consulate Reception Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here
1970s, Consulate Reception

 

On 24th February 2018 serving Governor Lisa Phillips married Detective Inspector Dave Honan of the St Helena Police, the first Governor to get married on St Helena (as far as we know).

Some history 

Until the middle of the 19th Century people were married here exclusively by the Governor, on simple payment of a fee. As far as we know there were no residence or other restrictions. The couple could then hold a service in a church if they so wished.

In 1847 Robert Gray was appointed by the Anglican Church as Bishop of Cape Town, and hence the island’s Anglican Bishop. One of his first actions was to challenge how marriages were arranged here. Bishop Gray argued that licences were issued indiscriminately and wanted to impose Anglican Church rules on all marriages. This was not acceptable to the Government. The dispute continued until 1851 when it appears a compromise was arrived at; the Church could marry people without the Governor marrying them first, but those seeking marriage outside the church could still seek marriage by the state. This was documented in the Marriage Ordinance, 1851.

Some time later some non-Anglican churches also obtained the right to marry people. If a church had twelve householders it could apply to marry couples.

In 2009 a new Constitution was introduced in St Helena which contained non-discrimination and human rights provisions. Although the 1851 Marriage Ordinance did not explicitly prohibit Same-Sex Marriage (it referred only to the parties to a marriage) it was deficient in other respects - for example, only the father of a person under 18 could give consent for a marriage, not the mother. In addition there was pressure from the Tourist Office and other tourism providers to allow civil weddings to take place in venues other than The Castle, e.g. hotels. So it was decided that a new Marriage Ordinance was needed and the Marriage Bill 2016 was drawn up.

The Marriage Bill 2016 was first debated by Legislative Council on 11th December 2016, but Legislative Council became confused about its responsibilities and some members seemed to feel that their religious convictions could override the equality provisions of the Constitution. The bill was withdrawn. Following the General Election of 2017 a period of Consultation took place in late 2017, consulting on two options: full marriage equality (as required by the Constitution), or some sort of ‘Civil Partnership’, which critics pointed out would not meet the requirements of the Constitution. During the six weeks of Consultation a petition was widely circulated by leading Church-members opposing Same-Sex Marriage, but this was only signed by 5% of the resident population, demonstrating that the vast majority were either in favour of Same-Sex Marriage, or at least not opposed to it.

On 5th December 2017 Executive Council decided to re-present the 2016 Marriage Bill (now called the Marriage Bill 2017, but otherwise unaltered) to Legislative Council for discussion. On 19th December Legislative Council passed the bill, thus legalising the holding of weddings in venues other than a Church or in The Castle, and also formally permitting Same-Sex Marriage.

The first Civil Wedding to take place outside the Castle was conducted at the Mantis Hotel in Jamestown on 7th June 2018 between Deborah Stroud and Roddy Yon.

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.
Mae West

Marriage Records

Official marriage records began in St Helena in 1849. The Church may have kept records before that. If you want to trace old marriages, see our page Family & Friends.

19th Century wedding photo (bride on the right) Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here
19th Century wedding photo (bride on the right){b}

Read More 

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

Article: Same-Sex Marriage - The Facts

Issued by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, published in the island’s newspapers 3rd November 2016{4}

E&HRC Logo Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

There has been, and almost certainly will be more passionate discussion about the subject of the proposed Marriage Bill that should go to LegCo on 09.12.2016. These are the facts: Our Constitution states that the people of St Helena are committed to government in partnership with the UK, to democratic principles and the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms (preamble, letter l). While the Constitution does not specifically refer to a right to marriage by same-sex couples, it does state at section at section 14 that Every man and woman of marriageable age (as determined by or under any law) shall have the right to marry and found a family. It does not say that a man and a woman must marry each other, but that they as individuals have the right to marry. I would say that when you read this with section 5 of the Constitution, then you have it: same sex couples should be allowed to be married.

Section 5 protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of every individual. These rights exist for everyone without distinction of any kind, such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, age, disability, birth or other status, so long as those rights do not stop other people from exercising their rights.

This means that same-sex couples should be afforded the same opportunity to be married if they so wish. Why? Because marriage is a passport to a lot of things that otherwise you would need lots of pieces of paper to achieve the same result. For example, the automatic right to inherit property on the death of your spouse, rights to make decisions as next of kin, etc. If our councillors do not wish to allow marriage to same-sex couples but would want to extend to them the protections that marriage covers, then the councillors would need to revise many of our Ordinances - this would be a long and expensive process, an unnecessary expense when this small change the Marriage Bill can address this quickly and cheaply.

Under the Marriage Bill proposed, no church will be forced to conduct marriage services if they do not wish to, nobody will be forced to attend the wedding and it goes without saying that nobody can be forced to marry anyone they do not want to marry. So allowing any couple the right to marry does not interfere with anyone else’s rights.

In fact research has shown that there are benefits for everyone. Research shows that gay and lesbian people experience higher-than-average levels of stress and mental health problems as a result of legal discrimination and social exclusion, particularly when that discrimination and exclusion occurs in a core institution like marriage. Studies confirm the highest risk group are young gay and lesbian people for whom legal discrimination and exclusion can contribute to suicide. There is also a growing body of research showing that married partners, including same-sex married partners, are, on average, healthier, happier and longer lived than their cohabiting peers, or singles.

Allowing same-sex couples to marry may boost the economy through expenditure on weddings, and an increase in overseas visitors coming to St Helena to marry. There are many Saints who have left the island because they have not felt able to be the person they are; their talents are needed here. Many of their friends and family miss them and our community is the poorer for their absence. Not recognising and valuing them in their diversity is in effect a breach of their right to private and family life.

There are so many reasons why Same-Sex Marriage is a good thing, everyone has a right to live fulfilled and happy lives. Nobody should be denied that right.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Get Married Here

Laugh at funny Get Married Here humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info

A reference to the unusual Nicknames encountered on St Helena.


Credits:

{a} Corker’s Tourist Services

{b} Hilary Maidment, 3rd Great Granddaughter of James Ellick.



Footnotes:

{1} At the time of writing this has only just become law. Venues are expected to include hotels and community centres.

{2} Please contact us if you know otherwise.

{3} These wedding photos were published in the St Helena Herald and are therefore, we contend, in the public domain. However we have no wish to cause distress or concern so if you wish us to remove any of these photographs please contact us.

{4} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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