Major types of marriage in Nigeria: How many are there?

Major types of marriage in Nigeria: How many are there?

Marriage is a physical, spiritual, and emotional union between people. Through it, human and social capital is sustained in the world. There are different types of marriage in Nigeria in 2022. In each type, partners declare their love and devotion to each other, usually in front of dear ones.

what are the 3 types of marriage?
Two wedding rings in a little basket. Photo: pexels.com, @Pixabay
Source: UGC

If you plan on getting married, you should know the different types of marriage recognised in contemporary Nigeria. You should then pick one, depending on your religion and preference.

What is marriage?

Wedlock refers to a legally and socially sanctioned union between partners, usually between a man and a woman. Nigeria has laws, rules, customs, beliefs, and attitudes that regulate these unions. In most communities, there are prescribed rights and duties of the partners.

Good wedlock offers sexual gratification and regulation. It also enhances economic production and consumption and satisfies individual desires for companionship, affection, and status.

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Major types of marriage in Nigeria in 2022

The types of marriages in African societies are almost similar. Some traditions may vary, but the importance and significance of wedlock remain the same.

There are four main types of marriage in Nigeria, and each is explored below. Couples should know they may conduct at least three types together.

type of marriage
A groom holding his bride's hand on their wedding day. Photo: pexels.com, @Daniel Rocha
Source: UGC

Statutory/ registry union

In Nigeria, statutory wedlock is allowed between one man and one woman. This monogamous union is done at the court registry. This kind of union is regulated by three constitutional acts.

  • The Marriage Act
  • The Matrimonial Causes Rules made pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act
  • The Matrimonial Causes Act Cap M7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004

Key points to note in a registry wedlock

Before you choose to marry the statutory way, you should note some key points.

  • You can only initiate the process by giving a notice of your wedlock to the Registrar of Marriages. Either you or your partner can do this by submitting a signed form.
  • You must pay the prescribed fee for the registrar to enter your details in the Marriage Notice Book and publish the notice.
  • Any individual who opposes your wedlock has the right to enter a Caveat against the issuance of the Registrar's Certificate. They can do this by writing "Forbidden" opposite the entry of the notice in the Marriage Notice Book. The opposing individual must include their name, address, and the grounds for the objection in compliance with the law.
  • If someone forbids your wedlock validly, the registrar shall not issue your marriage certificate until the judge of a High Court removes the caveat.
  • A certificate can only be issued if one of the partners has been resident within the district where the union is intended to be officiated at least fifteen days preceding the union.
  • The union must be marked within three months of the date of the notice, failure to which the process shall become void.

Customary union

types of marriages
A couple on their traditional wedding day. Photo: pexels.com, @S and S Love Story
Source: UGC

Customary unions are also commonly known as traditional unions. This type of marriage is regulated by customary law and is usually between a man and a woman. Customary unions can be polygamous.

It normally involves two families, and the process is done according to the particular community or communities involved and their traditions. A Yoruba union, for example, may follow different traditions than an Igbo one.

Core features a customary union

Although the traditions of various communities differ, they have similar core features, as listed below.

  • There has to be consent from the partners.
  • There has to be consent from the two families.
  • The bride price or dowry has to be paid.
  • There are prescribed prohibited degrees of consanguinity.

Church union

different ways in which people get married
A member of the clergy officiating a church wedding. Photo: pexels.com, @Pavel Danilyuk
Source: UGC

Various religious denominations celebrate weddings between their members in a church setting. An ordained priest, pastor, or other members of clergy officiates these unions, which are normally monogamous.

Many Christian homes encourage church weddings due to their beliefs. Usually, churches issue a church marriage certificate. However, it is important to note that in Nigeria, some church unions are not recognised by the Marriage Act.

The Nigerian law recognises some churches as statutory places of worship. These churches are licensed by the Ministry of Interior to conduct legal unions. They issue a church certificate and a statutory marriage certificate to couples.

It is important to confirm if your church is licensed as a statutory place of worship. If not, you should consider conducting church and statutory ceremonies, as the law allows this. In most cases, people conduct a traditional ceremony before a church or statutory wedding.

Islamic union

type of marriage
A Muslim man kissing his wife's forehead on their wedding day. Photo: pexels.com, @El grongo photo
Source: UGC

Islamic unions are guided by the Islamic religion, which allows polygamy. A man can marry up to four wives. For an Islamic marriage to be considered valid, the following criteria should be met.

  • The groom and the bride must consent to the union verbally and in writing.
  • A bridal gift must be issued to the bride, which remains her property as security in the union.
  • Two adult witnesses must be present to verify the wedlock contract.
  • The bride or the groom can issue contract conditions which, if agreed upon, become legally-binding conditions of the union, e.g. the wife’s right to continue her education and where the couple will reside.

What are the 3 types of marriage?

The 3 types of marriage in Nigeria are statutory, customary, and Islamic unions. Each of these is legally recognised in Nigeria.

What are the types of marriage in Nigeria?

The main types of marriages in the country are statutory, Islamic, and customary. Church weddings normally fall under statutory unions, but only if the church is licensed as a statutory place of worship.

Which are the different ways in which people get married?

People can enter into wedlock in Islamic, statutory, or traditional ways. Islamic and traditional unions allow for polygamy, while statutory unions are monogamous.

Which are the 10 types of marriage in the world?

There are many categories of unions in different parts of the world. They include inter-faith, civil, religious, common law, morganatic, secret, shotgun, same s*x, arranged, and convenience unions. Some of these are not legally binding in Nigeria.

There are different types of marriage in contemporary Nigeria. Each has its unique terms and conditions, so we hope this information helps you in determining what feels right for you and your partner.

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