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Cook Islands Wedding - The Legal Side

Legally it is a very straightforward process to have a wedding in the Cook Islands for citizens from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, and most European countries. However some countries may require more documentation than mentioned below, so we recommend that you check with your country’s marriage licensing department or agency if in anyway unsure of what is required.

Cook Islands weddings and marriage licenses are internationally recognized and legally binding worldwide, as the Cook Islands are one of over ninety countries that have ratified The Hague Convention which recognizes that governments can legalise documents intended for use in other countries where they are required with an apostille, or seal.  Marriage licenses are one such type of document that requires an apostille.

The legal age of consent to marry and have a Cook Islands wedding is 20 years, otherwise written approval by parents is required.

Applications for a Wedding licence cannot be made outside the Cook Islands and must be made in person to the Registrar of Marriages in the Cook Islands at least 3 business working days prior to the marriage, however this time period can be shortened for a nominal fee.

The following documents are required:

  • Your full passport and birth certificates will be required when filling out the "Notice of Intended Marriage" at the Registrar’s Office.
  • A copy of the Decree Absolute if divorced
  • If you have been widowed you will need to provide the Death Certificate of your spouse.
  • All documentation must be in English or translated into English.

You may choose either a wedding celebrant (non-religious) or a Minister to perform the ceremony at your Cook Islands wedding. Religious denominations in the Cook Islands include the Cook Island Christian Church, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Apostolic, Assembly of God, Jehovah Witness and Baha’i.

You can choose to get married on one of our magical beaches or tropical gardens, an uninhabited islet in the lagoon, a local church, or at your resort, such as the white sandy beach outside Sea Change Villas, complete with their “island famous” coconut heart.

Your wedding ceremony can simply be the two of you and your celebrant, along with two witnesses for signing the marriage register, through to a full wedding party and guests. You can choose to wear traditional wedding attire, or you may go for a more Polynesian style of dress or tropical island feeling - complete with bare feet.

When arranging your flights you have to take into account that, ideally, you need to be in the Cook Islands for at least three working days prior to your planned wedding date to complete the necessary legal requirements and paperwork. For New Zealanders and Australians you have to extra vigilant when planning your travel as you fly through the international dateline to get to Rarotonga, which means you literally go back a day in time.   

We strongly recommend that you work with a local Cook Islands wedding planner to ensure that ‘all your bases are covered’ - they are knowledgeable and effective, so ensuring you enjoy a stress free build up to your wedding day.

All the larger resorts have their own wedding organisers, but there are also several independent wedding planners, such as Wedded Bliss, who work with many Cook Islands Wedding accommodations, including the luxurious resort of Sea Change Villas for your wedding. They will take care of everything for you which includes advice and pre-planning prior to your arrival in Rarotonga, your personal consultation after arrival, transport to and from the Justice Department for your licence application, and take charge of all the other arrangements ensuring that your special day is truly memorable – and stress free.   

Sea Change Villas offer a choice of Cook Islands wedding packages from a simple ceremony right through to a full luxury package with all the trimmings.

Wedded Bliss at Sea Change Villas.


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