Imagine having an awesome wedding day and honeymoon, getting back home with your new life partner, and going to home affairs, not knowing exactly what to do or what to expect.

Yep we have all been there, or we all know that it's coming.

As a wedding photographer, and someone who got married recently, this is something I am well aware of. The question of "what now?" or just simply "how?" comes to mind, because there isn’t much info about this topic.

It can feel very daunting.

After asking loads of friends and past clients for the best way to go about it, I went through the whole process myself.

And thats exactly why I’m writing this blog post. So stay with me, and I'll help you go through the process as quick and painless as possible.

Making sure you have the right documents

On the day you get married (aka the day you sign the papers) your officiant should either;

A: give you a copy of the papers you signed - thats the one with the finger prints and the ID photos (the big book that people would normally like to take a photos with on the wedding day - see photos below). These are the papers that come from the marriage register. It should have a barcode with a number at the bottom - this is your "marriage ID" (or thats the best way i can explain it)

B: give you a A5 paper (i've found they are usually blue or yellow). This paper also has the barcode/ID on, and this is your temporary wedding certificate. Your wedding officiant will probably give this to you if you need to leave the country for your honeymoon, otherwise the first document would be just fine.

I don’t think it matters which one they give to you, just as long as you keep it safe and take it with you to home affairs after the honeymoon, or whenever you have the will power to do so.

The important thing is to take you and your spouses ID numbers as well as your "marriage ID" with you

Fun fact: When signing the marriage register it carbon copies to three different pages, one that you and your spouse takes, one stays in the book, and the other one your officiant takes to home affairs to register the marriage.

Registering the marriage

The law requires the marriage officiant to hand in all the necessary documents to home affairs within 3 business days from the day of the signing.

Home affairs should register the marriage on the day that they receive the documents. This however doesn't always happen because they often have a back log. I would recommend waiting about a month before going in to get your official marriage certificate , or just phoning your nearest home affairs and asking them to check on the system if the marriage has been registered.

Things to note if you have been married before:

Whether the marriage ended because of death or divorce, call home affairs or ask your officiant to call home affairs and ask if the divorce/ death has been updated yet, it's important that you are single on the system. If you are not registered as single and your officiant gives in the marriage documents, it can take much longer to register your marriage.

Getting your marriage certificate

After you waited a month or phoned home affairs to make sure your marriage is registered, you can go ahead and pack a cooldrink and a book, because today we are going to home affairs! I know, everyone hates going to home affairs, but it's going to be okay. We were there for less than an hour actually.

Take you and your spouses ID's as well as the document(s) described in the previous section. Now we wait. All you have to do is tell them what you are here for, give them the documents and they will do the rest. We paid R20 (make sure to bring cash- just in case of loadshedding or systems being offline) and they gave our certificate to us. We thought that we were going to have come back and fetch it, but they printed it there and then, we were good to go!

I know right? I also thought it was going to be a longer process, but its actually very easy!

Note: This is just your normal marriage certificate. If you need an unabridged marriage certificate (in case of immigration or something - you’ll know if you need one) that's a different process.

Changing your surname

You are going to be shocked at how easy this is.

When signing the papers in the marriage register, you will see that there is a Section C: Particulars of marriage, this is where you fill in your surname after marriage. Make sure that you fill in whatever you want your surname to change to, or if you don’t want it to change you'll just fill in your maiden name here. You can also add a hyphenated surname here if thats something you want to do.

Make sure with your officiant about all of this when filling in the marriage certificate.

After the marriage is registered, your surname will also be changed to whatever you wrote on the form. So basically, you don’t have to do much to change your surname.

Yeah, I also didn't know that.

Getting your new ID and/or Passport

This goes without saying, but if you didn't change your surname, you obviously don't need to read this section.

The process of changing your surname on your ID and Passport is exactly the same as it would be when renewing these documents. The only difference is, you need to take your marriage certificate with you. You can even do your marriage certificate and your new ID on the same day! Whohooo! Only one trip to home affairs! (Except for, like in my case, their systems were offline - so i have to go again, ugh)

Remember to take your old ID and Passport and your marriage certificate, practice your non smiling, smiling face and thats it!

Like it would normally work when renewing these things, you are going to have to wait and go fetch it when it's done. Unfortunately I can't tell how long that wait is going to be.

Thanks for reading, I really hope this gave you some clarity.

Remember to share this with someone else who might need to read this and help make the process clearer for them as well!

You are welcome to go follow our Instagram page, I post loads of tips and tricks related to weddings and photography. Go check it our, maybe you find something you like!

Good luck with everything, I wish you a smooth marriage registering and name changing!