Coronavirus pandemic

Planning to get hitched? Couples may have marriage solemnised virtually soon

During the circuit breaker period, marriage solemnisations have had to be postponed. PHOTO: ST FILE

Couples whose plans to tie the knot were undone by the coronavirus will not have to postpone their nuptials after all, if an upcoming Bill is passed by Parliament to allow them to say their vows remotely.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said on Facebook that a Bill will be introduced in Parliament next Monday to enable civil and Muslim marriages to be solemnised remotely.

Couples would not need to be present at the Registry of Marriages or the Registry of Muslim Marriages, nor be in the physical presence of a marriage solemniser and witnesses.

Marriage solemnisations have had to be postponed while circuit breaker measures are in force.

Mr Lee wrote: "Even during a crisis, we should try to enable important life events such as marriages to go on. We should not let Covid-19 hold back those who are ready to start a new life together."

If the Bill is passed, couples who can present Singapore-issued documents for verification may have their marriages solemnised virtually.

The couples, their witnesses and, in the case of Muslim marriages, the wali - the bride's lawful guardian - must physically be in Singapore to sign their statutory declarations. During the solemnisation of the marriage, the couple, solemniser and witnesses must all be physically in Singapore as well.

Mr Lee said that virtual solemnisations can start from mid-May, if the law is enacted. He added that the option may be extended even beyond the circuit breaker period.

"We will also resume solemnisations that are conducted in person when it is safe to do so," he said.

Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli wrote on Facebook that the Office of the Mufti has issued religious guidance, or an irsyad, that virtual solemnisations for Muslim marriages are permissible under Islam, as long as the conditions for a nikah, or solemnisation ceremony, can be fulfilled.

He said: "I am heartened to see our asatizah (religious teachers) taking decisive steps to seek practical solutions to meet pressing community needs in this current challenging climate."

Medical doctor Nicholas Chan, 27, said he and his fiancee, whose wedding in early June has been postponed, will not opt for a virtual solemnisation if it becomes available.

He said: "We already have an idea of how we would like our special day to be, and a virtual solemnisation wouldn't feel romantic enough. If we had more practical concerns, such as housing, then this virtual solemnisation would be something that we might consider."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2020, with the headline Planning to get hitched? Couples may have marriage solemnised virtually soon. Subscribe