Indian Desmond Donald Coelho and Filipina Pacita Olita Felicilda exchange marriage vows at the Indian Consulate after six years of courtship. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: The bride was not in a flowing gown. The groom didn’t wear a blazer. There were no bells or bouquets, or anything that is typically associated with a Christian wedding except the rings exchanged by the couple.

That was because Indian expat Desmond Donald Coelho and his Filipina bride Pacita Olita Felicilda found the fruition of six years of their courtship at a very unlikely wedding venue — the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

They are among 235 couples, whose marriages may have been made in heaven, but took place at the mission in 2018.

It has been a long, long, long time that I have been waiting for this. I am just thankful.

- Pacita Olita Felicilda, Filipina bride

The number of couples marrying at the consulate has been increasing with 203 registrations in 2016 and 219 in 2017.

Many of them were cross-border couples or Indians belonging to different states and different religions.

219

marriages were solemnised at Indian Consulate in 2017

For registering their weddings at the Indian mission, both the bride and groom have to be UAE residents and at least one of them should be an Indian citizen. Many other diplomatic missions here solemnise weddings between individuals of their nationality only.

Evan Salvador Cordeiro and Cindrella Pereira from Goa found the fruition of their two-year-long courtship in Dubai at the Indian Consulate. Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Legalising relationships

While solemnising their wedding in the presence of the Marriage Officer and his assistant at the consulate, what mattered the most to the Desmond-Pacita couple was not the celebration, but the legalisation of their relationship.

Hailing from two different countries and seeking conjugal bliss, the easiest option before them for was to solemnise their wedding at the Indian mission.

“This was the easy and simple procedure to get married. So we chose this,” the groom told Gulf News.

And for the bride, it was the most thankful moment after a long wait.

“It has been a long, long, long time that I have been waiting for this. I am just thankful,” she said with eyes welling up with tears of joy.

Friends of Desmond, from Mangalore in the south Indian state of Karnataka, and the family of Pacita’s sister, from Leyte in the Philippines were present as witnesses.

Requirements

Signatures of three witnesses, along with documents including proof of wedding notice in newspapers published 30 days prior to the date of marriage and consent from the parents of both the bride and the groom, are mandatory requirements for solemnisation of a marriage. Other requirements are specified on the website www.cgidubai.gov.in

Neeraj Agrawal, head of chancery and consul (Press, Information and Culture) said a grade one officer of the government of India is usually appointed as a Marriage Officer at Indian missions.

30days

prior notice in newspapers must for marriage at mission

“They are authorised to solemnise or register marriages in missions abroad under Foreigners Marriage Act when at least one of the applicants is Indian. Indians living abroad can also solemnise or register marriages between Indian nationals of any faith or religion under the Foreigners Marriage Act or the Special Marriage Act.”

Indians, who have held their wedding functions at places of worships, also visit the mission to register their marriage.

We found the process is easier here in Dubai. If you have to do it back home, you have to stay there for 30 days. So, it made sense to do it over here.

- Richa H. Pahoja, Indian bride

That is what Prabhjeet Singh and Harsimranjit Kaur, who tied the knot at the Sikh Gurudwara in Dubai earlier in December, did.

However, Mohit P. Jivani and Richa H. Pahoja, who have planned a wedding in Thailand, decided to register the marriage before the grand function.

“We found the process is easier here in Dubai. If you have to do it back home, you have to stay there for 30 days. So, it made sense to do it over here,” said Richa, an interior designer.

Rituals

Submitting the documents, taking the oath and providing the signatures are the only “rituals” of weddings taking place — on Thursdays — at the mission.

Taking an oath in front of the Marriage Officer is not mandatory for couples who are already married and just seeking the registration of their marriage, said Jitendra Negi, the new Marriage Officer and consul for labour and consular.

An official assisting him said some couples exchange rings or garlands after the formal registration and exchanging wedding vows. “Some couples dress up for the occasion in the traditional way. But, most of them usually keep it simple.”