The Day We Almost Registered Our Marriage

The Day We Almost Registered Our Marriage

Yesterday was quite frustrating, but reflecting on it, today, I actually learned quite a bit. I’ll start the story off with a bit of TMI (too much information) because, well, it’s an important topic.

Yesterday morning, after its week-long delay, I got my period. I’m sorry, I know you may not want to hear about that, and I never thought I would broadcast that information… But to keep this blog raw and honest, we are going to have to talk about things you don’t want to hear.

So, as I was saying, I got my period. We had an appointment that morning, to register our marriage, and the commute was nearly two hours. I was worried, but I knew everything would turn out okay. I could not have been more wrong.

Shortly after arriving at the registration office, I started experiencing an extreme amount of pain, due to cramping. I sat quietly for about half an hour, waiting for our witnesses to show up, and helped my husband organize dozens of papers.

When the time came, we went inside and everyone signed each of those dozens of papers. Soon after, me and my husband were stuck in a not-so-organized crowd, waiting for our number to be called. When our number was called, we shoved our way to the front of the line, only for the clerk to object our registration of marriage.

At this point, I was very weak and struggling to stay focused, due to the pain.

We were then lead to the back office where a business man sat behind a large desk, talking with other couples. Our clerk interrupted him, “This Indian boy and American girl cannot get married on the basis of this document!”

The business man silently held up his hand to stop the man from talking, then smiled at us and said, “Please, be seated.”
When we sat down, he asked us why the clerk objected, and my husband explained that the clerk did not think our rental agreement was proper proof of residence. The business man explained that my husband would need a different kind of document to prove our residence here in Delhi. He was very kind, but told us to return with the document to proceed.

At this time, we were exhausted. We felt bad, as well, having wasted our time and our witnesses time. The whole event must have taken no less than three hours.

It became urgent that I either get to a bathroom quickly or get home, and the likelihood of finding a public bathroom (let alone a clean public bathroom) in New Delhi was very slim. Slim to none. When I notified my husband of my needs, he was forced to use the money we would have spent on our marriage certificate, to buy an auto-rickshaw ride home instead. I was extremely grateful. It was a long way home, considering my circumstances.

When we got home, my pain was at its peak. Still very unusual for me. So after eating a quick snack, I took a few ibuprofen and fell asleep. When I woke up for a late lunch, I felt fine, but defeated.

Yesterday, I found it to be a shame that there are no specifics on what you need, in order to file for a marriage certificate in Delhi. So I decided I am going to write exactly how to go about getting a marriage certificate, and which documents are needed.

Yesterday, I found it saddening that Delhi doesn’t have very many public bathrooms, at least… It doesn’t anywhere I have been. The only public bathrooms I have ever seen, outside of a major attraction, were constantly closed and locked. If it’s this hard to find a public bathroom in Delhi, can you imagine what rural areas are like? I’m looking into causes and ways I can help.

Though yesterday felt like a failure at the time, I actually learned a few things, and gained a bit of perspective. It’s kind of funny, the way life teaches us lessons. And, well, now we know how to officially register our marriage, when we get around to it again.

In the future, I’d like to explore the topics of menstruation in India, public bathrooms in India, and such related topics.

Featured image by Mike Goren via


16 thoughts on “The Day We Almost Registered Our Marriage

  1. Why does it seem this is the way it always happens in India. I appreciate this article because I will be registering in Dec. I don’t live there, not in scared of what they might say. Ugh


    1. Does your fiancé live here? If your fiancé has lived here for more than 30 days, you guys will be fine.
      He needs to either have a bank account in Delhi, and he has to be able to prove that, or he needs a driver’s license or some kind of voting card. That’s the only way you can prove he lives in the area, unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Luckily, you don’t need to live here to register or solemnize your marriage, but the 30 day waiting thing would make me nervous too. From what I read, they will send an officer to check and see that you two are living together. Although I have no experience of it yet myself.
        I plan to write a detailed “how-to” once I have gone through it all myself. That way you can know better, what to expect.


    2. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I’m pretty sure you will have to be in India for over 30 days.
      For my wedding in April the process started with a a police visit to confirm residency and registering with the fro. Then had to wait 30 days from the police visit to file our marriage documents. After that we waited a couple more weeks for an appointment with the magistrate. This is not including the extra visits to get more papers because nothing ever gets done on the first try.
      My father-in-law is a lawyer so he helped us through the whole process.
      I’ll do my best to answer any questions if you want. 🙂


  2. It definitely is easier to get all the paperwork done in Delhi. Here in my town it took us 2 (!!!) months to get everything done. Constant frustration about wrong documents, wrong signatures. Changing all the same papers so many times. And what is it about Indians, that they need 5 copies of every page!? I hated that time and it still makes me angry.
    About public bathrooms I don’t quite agree. I see plenty of them and when I don’t my husband always takes to a restaurant as much as I find it weird, because in my country it’s quite rare that we are allowed to use a restroom of a restaurant without being a customer. Anyway… People have always been nice and let me use it.
    Clean public bathrooms is another topic ;D


  3. u didn’t check the Delhi govt. my wife when she came to Delhi. does your husband has a voting card, driving license, a adhaar card. For establishing his residence proof he may need a certificate from government gazetted officer who can can attest a statement that he knows your husband for a specified period say three years and he lives at a particular address. gazetted officers are those who are authorized by government of India to stamp and attest documents validating their authenticity, vouching for somebody’a character mainly responsible officers of governance of India. I suggest that you find a gazetted officer nearby or get a certificate from notary public.

    Most importantly there are people around marriage offices who prepare these documents for a fee. contact them they will help u. There are ways u need proper guidance and tell your husband to get his voting card, driving licence etc made quickly. This is going to be an ongoing problem for u guys. passport is ofcourse the ultimate document it has both photo and residence proof. For people who come from outside Delhi this is a big problem. get it sorted out as early as possible.

    beat of luck


    1. Thanks Friend,
      Despite having been to the Delhi .gov website, I can still say, that despite all the information they provide, it’s not clear what documents will be considered as proof of residence. I read somewhere to use a lease as proof of residence, but I was wrong. I just wished the website explained everything a little more clearly. We weren’t the only ones who wasted our time, sadly.
      It’s good to know that there are people who would be willing to help prepare the documents for a fee. We’ll keep that in mind on our next trip to the office.


  4. my wife came from a different city she has no identity proof. we had problems with marriage certificate.

    The Delhi government website does provide a comprehensive list of documents needed. In your case since you are a foreigner things may be a little different and complicated. as I said there are people around such offices who prepare the documents. but u should take a friend or acquaintance so that u are not duped. don’t worry everyone has faced this problem in India. paper work in India is tedious but necessary. I wish it is made people friendly.

    meanwhile once all this is over get your husband’s identification documents maDe. I suggest apply for his passport online little expensive but it establishes both residence and identity.


  5. Oh poor you. Indeed public bathrooms in India are very rare. I am always uncomforable when I get my periods there. Last time, I was so scared about my inlaws reactions that I stayed the first 2 days secluded in my hotel room… Ah the sheer luxury of having a clean bathroom, discreet dustbin, and AC in the same place ! 😉


  6. There is a fixation with ‘permanent address’ which means the place owned by your desi spouse or parents of your desi spouse. Partly this is linked to all the odd jurisdictional issues between courts in Delhi. And particularly absurd given how many people do NOT own their own flat/home?!

    The documentation requirements for marriage are similar for divorce proceedings where you need proof of identity (passport, adhaar card, voter’s ID, etc) plus proof of ‘permanent address’ (bank statement supported by mobile bill and other proof)…leased premises are not necessarily sufficient.

    For example, in my case, a leased address in Mumbai was not acceptable even though I’ve lived at it for 4.5 years and all my ID / address proof is linked to – gosh! – where I live. I had to instead provide proof of a ‘permanent’ address in Canada which is owned by my parents. Indian passports have a place for ‘permanent’ address whereas Canadian passports do not… however a hand written emergency contact for my father in my Canadian passport was accepted!! At an address I haven’t lived in 25+ years?! But the judge was satisfied and that’s all that matters.

    The most hilarious moment was when the clerk asked me for my Indian voter’s ID after having dutifully entered the details of my Canadian passport?! Try keeping a straight face while patiently explaining as I’m not an Indian citizen, do not have the right to vote in India therefore do not have an Indian voter’s ID…

    Best just to be amused and carry on…


  7. I shifted to Delhi in August 2014 and , my wedding happened in December 2014 and we registered it in July 2015… I think it tells how it “simple” to arrange anything in India. We had to return to SDM office 5 times, and while managing visa at FRRO , 7 time.
    One of the outrageous moment was when we gave all the needed document to clerk who get our case and he was writing in a blank paper 800 rs. When my husband saw he didn’t react, the boy removed quickly and wrote 500rs. He meant to say that if we pay we will be ” VIP” costumers.
    It sad that corruption is almost everywhere here.
    Anyway as u Crystal , I promised myself that i will write how to get marriage certificate and everything in what i can help to others. I didn’t planed to write blog, but i visited your ‘myhindiheart’ site and site of ‘English wife Indian life’ and i really got inspired. Thanks for that.
    So in future i plan to give information related to paper works, and generally about life here. 🙂


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