Customary, Islamic and ordinance unions are the three legally recognized forms of marriage in Ghana. Customary and Islamic marriages allow polygamy, while ordinance unions remain monogamous.
In Ghana, a customary marriage is between a man and a woman and can be legally registered under the Customary Marriage and Divorce Registration Law. Different ethnic groups perform rites in line with traditions involving the couple, parents and clan members. A bride price is paid to the bride's parents. The law does not have a limit to the number of wives a man can take in this form of marriage.
The ordinance marriage system borrows heavily from the British. It is conducted between a man and a woman who must be 18 years of age or older. It is a monogamous union with a short ceremony conducted at the marriage registry. A registered officer conducts the wedding by leading the partners through their solemn declarations before they exchange rings and sign the marriage register. The couple can then present the marriage certificate to a priest for a church wedding and reception.
Islamic marriages follow the Islamic law and may be polygamous. The Marriages Act in Ghana recognizes these marriages and validates them when registered. It is a requirement to notify the Registrar of Mohammedan marriages and divorces within one week of the marriage; failure to do so renders the marriage illegal.