Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hurl(e)y Burly

Marriage is the result of the longing for the deep peace of the double bed after the hurly burly of the chaise longue

Not much deep peace yet for Elizabeth Hurley. As weddings go this must be one of the longest ever. And the most expensive.
First came the secret but legal civil ceremony in the library at Sudeley Castle. Then the blessing in the church in the castle grounds. Now she’s in Rajasthan, probably being decorated with henna (is this a henna night?), in preparation for the traditional Hindu ceremony: her bridegroom will arrive on a white horse leading a procession of elephants and camels while she waits, decked out in a jewel encrusted sari. So far, so Bollywood.
At least this belt and braces approach to marriage means she won’t have made the same mistake as fellow celeb Jerry Hall who thought she had married Mick Jagger on a beach in Bali. But when the romance had died and divorce was on the cards it turned out their ‘marriage’ had never been valid under English law.
So what happens if my daughter decides to join the growing numbers of those who wed in far-flung sunny corners of the world instead of rainy Britain? How can she avoid making the same mistake as Ms Hall? I’ve discovered that overseas marriages are legal in the UK so long as you comply with all the marriage laws in the country you get married in. But – unless one of you is in or attached to the British Armed Forces – you won’t be able to register your marriage in the usual way.

You can have it recorded, though, if one or both of you is a British citizen and you married in a country that the General Register Office accepts formal notifications from. (They’re called Article 7 countries and there’s a list on www.gro.gov.uk) This involves paperwork. You have to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the local authorities in the country where you married. You must take this to the British Embassy in that country. They translate it, possibly for a fee, and forward it to the General Register Office in the UK (another fee). The documents are then held by the GRO so that you can ask for a copy of your marriage certificate if you need it for some reason – such as getting a divorce or proving to a high street bank that you are not an international criminal and money launderer.

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