For the marriage to be legal the Marriage Celebrant must be authorised by the Attorney-General.
Do we have to attend marriage education classes? In Australia, It is not a legal requirement for you to attend marriage education classes. There are many community relationship services that can support and enhance your marriage, your family life and all of your relationships. Courses are available that are both informative and very practical, giving you and your partner many skills that you can put in your 'tool bag' for building a strong and healthy relationship. For more information you can visit:
Can we write our own vows? Yes, you can write your own vows. With regard to the legal vow, The Marriage Act 1996 - section 45(2) states that each party must say to the other, in the presence of the marriage celebrant and witnesses the words: “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (name of groom/bride) take thee, (name of bride/groom) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband”.
Do we need to apply for a marriage license? The current Marriage Act requires that a Notice Of Intended Marriage MUST be lodged with the solemnising celebrant a MINIMUM of one calendar month plus one day before your wedding date and it is valid for 18 months from the date of lodgement. The celebrant will take care of all the legal requirements including the lodgement of the notice of intent to marry form (which some people call the “license”).
How can I involve a few special family and friends? There are many ways to include family and friends. The traditional role has been to have them as attendants in your bridal party or you can invite them to:
Present a reading, sing a special song, or play an instrument.
Be the ring bearer (even if they are not in the bridal party, they can come forward when requested).
Be witnesses for the signing of the legal certificates and register.
Be the wedding day co-ordinator - someone who has a clear picture of your vision and ensures that everything is unfolding as you would like. This person can make decisions on your behalf. They can introduce themselves to the celebrant, venue and reception co-ordinators, musicians, etc
Do we have to have wedding attendants? You do not have to have wedding attendants as this is a personal choice.
Do we have to exchange wedding rings? There is no legal requirement to exchange wedding rings. It is a tradition and symbolic ritual to honour the commitment you are making to each other.
What documents will we need to provide? The celebrant is required to sight the following ORIGINAL documents. COPIES CERTIFIED BY A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE:
Original certificate of birth (this may be an Extract or Full Certificate).
If a birth certificate is not obtainable an OVERSEAS Passport (the Australian Government will NOT accept an Australian Passport for this purpose).
If you have been previously married, the Decree Absolute or Divorce Certificate.
If you are a widow or widower, the Death Certificate of your late spouse.
If any certificates are written in a language that the solemnising celebrant cannot understand, a certified translation by a registered translator is required.
If one of you is under 18 years of age, the written consent of your parents or guardian will be required. You will also need an order from the court. (see section 10-21 of The Marriage Act 1961)
Do we need to have all our documentation when we lodge the notice of intended marriage? No, however, you MUST produce all the relevant documents before the marriage can take place.
Can we get married in less than one calendar month and one day? Yes this is possible, but only under specific extenuating circumstances. Discuss your particular situation with your celebrant who will advise you as to how to obtain a shortening of notice. Authority to shorten notice cannot be given by the celebrant, it must be obtained from a prescribed government authority. It is an offence to participate in a marriage ceremony less than one month and one day after the Notice of Intended Marriage is formally lodged unless you have formal authority.
How old do I need to be before I can be married? The minimum age for marriage is 16 years, however, at least one party to the marriage must be 18 years of age or over, and the party under 18 must have consent for the marriage from that person's parent(s) and a Judge or a Magistrate. Marriages between two parties under 18 cannot be performed under any circumstances and marriages of such parties performed overseas are not recognised in Australia.
Can visitors to Australia be married in Australia? Yes, provided that the Notice of Intended Marriage form is lodged with the celebrant at least one month and one day before the ceremony. Overseas visitors do not have to be resident in Australia for the full notice period. It is possible for a person to arrive in Australia, produce the relevant original documents to the celebrant and be married all on the same day. Consult your chosen celebrant to make arrangements to forward a duly notarised Notice of Intended Marriage to him/her.
How can a person living overseas or in another state of Australia lodge the notice of intended marriage? The form may be obtained, completed and witnessed by an approved person and then faxed or emailed to the celebrant so that the celebrant receives it at least one month and one day before the date of the wedding. If the form is emailed, it must be scanned as the celebrant is required to see all signatures. THE ORIGINAL FORM MUST BE PRODUCED TO THE CELEBRANT BEFORE THE MARRIAGE CAN TAKE PLACE.
Are there any restrictions on time or places that a marriage can take place in Australia? Marriages in Australia can take place at any time and in any place, providing that the ceremony does not cause a nuisance to other people, and that you are not trespassing on private land. Check with the local council if you wish to have your ceremony in a park.
I have relatives coming from overseas and I want to get married while they are here. This would be before the legal requirement of 1 month and 1 day. Can this be done? Yes. I could perform the Ceremony to fit in with your visitors. Keeping in mind that you would not be legally married until we repeat the procedure after the required time, we will require two witnesses for this to occur. Your legal Wedding date, appearing on all your documents would be the date of the repeated procedure.
What will the celebrant wear? Accordingly ie to suit the formality/informality of your wedding ie elegant, appropriate and relatively neutral attire. It is your day not the celebrant’s, therefore, it is my intention to compliment the bridal party.
We want to have the ceremony and reception on a boat, would you stay onboard afterwards? No, I will ask that the captain take me back to the pick up point or else I will get a water taxi to take me back to land. (The water taxi would be at your expense).
What happens in the event that we have to postpone our wedding? The Notice of Intended Marriage is valid for 18 months. I can reschedule the wedding with you.
Who can I have as my witnesses? Anyone you like, providing they are over the age of 18 years. They may be from overseas.
Can I have a friend or family member read a poem at my wedding? Yes.
How many poems/readings is the right amount? Usually one or two poems/readings is appropriate and ensures that the Ceremony is not too long.
How long will the Ceremony take? The average time is 15 to 20 minutes but this may vary depending on how many readings/poems etc you include.
Do I have to be given away? No, this is a personal choice and is not a requirement.
Who usually gives the bride away? This is personal. It can be anyone you like.
We want to arrive at the ceremony together, is this suitable? Yes, It is your day and your choice.
Is it fashionable for the bride to be late? No, it is not fashionable to be late. Consider your guests, who may be elderly and become hot, tired and thirsty. Your reception, caterers, photographers and musicians are all running to a time schedule. If the Ceremony starts late so does everything else.
What happens if there are people around where we plan to hold the Ceremony? Providing you have written approval from the relevant Council to hold the Ceremony, you have the right to ask them to move. I am happy to do this on your behalf.
Should we have some chairs for our guests – how many is the right amount? Yes, chairs are a good idea, approx 12 chairs, is a good number, mostly for the elderly and family. Unless you have the exact amount of chairs as people, most people prefer to stand.
What happens after the Ceremony - do you stay for the reception? No, I will discreetly leave soon after the ceremony.
What would happen if you were to get sick? In the event that I am too ill to attend, I will arrange for another celebrant to perform your ceremony.
What do we do if you were involved in a traffic jam or accident and can't get to the Ceremony? The appropriate thing to do would be to continue on with the photographs and then onto the Reception venue. We could perform the Ceremony at the Reception once I arrive.
What name does the bride sign on the day of the Wedding Her maiden name on all documentation as this is her legal name.
WEDDING VOW RENEWALS
How long after our wedding day do we have to wait before we can have a reaffirmation ceremony? You can have a reaffirmation whenever you wish. There is no legal requirement and no established convention. If you are a newly married couple who married away from family and friends, perhaps overseas, a reaffirmation ceremony is a way of including those who weren't at your wedding in a lovely sharing of your joy and your delight in each other. If you have recently been through a particularly difficult time, a reaffirmation ceremony can be an act of hope and renewal, a means by which formally to leave regrets and mistakes behind. Reaffirmation ceremonies can be held to celebrate a significant milestone, such as a 25th or 50th wedding anniversary.
We eloped and our families do not know that we have been married. Can the re-affirmation ceremony be made to look like a real wedding ceremony? No. Section 113(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 prohibits this, and to mislead anyone in this way is an offence. The celebrant is required to make sure that those attending are fully aware that a reaffirmation ceremony is not a legal wedding ceremony.
How much notice do we need to give the celebrant? A reaffirmation ceremony is not a legal ceremony, and therefore there is no legal time requirement, you only need to fit in with the celebrant’s work schedule.
Is a re-affirmation ceremony held in a church different from a re-affirmation ceremony conducted by a civil celebrant? Yes it is. This form of ceremony MUST be conducted by a religious celebrant and is normally held in the church, and has no legal standing.
Do we receive a certificate, or is there anything to sign? Yes, all celebrants will provide a certificate as a memento of the occasion.
Can we have attendants such as bridesmaids, groomsmen, best man, ring bearer etc? Yes, it is common for a reaffirmation ceremony to be in many ways a re-enactment of the original ceremony.
Can we include the giving away of the bride (and groom) as in the original ceremony? Yes, in a marriage ceremony, traditionally the bride (and now, more commonly, the groom) were presented, supported and/or 'given away' by a close relative such as father or brother. In a reaffirmation ceremony, this role is often performed by children of the marriage.
Who can have a commitment ceremony? Anyone. A commitment ceremony is held between two people who love each other, but for personal or legal reasons cannot or do not wish to legally marry.
How much notice do I need to give the celebrant? As there is no legal requirement for a commitment ceremony, you only need to fit in with the celebrant’s work schedule.
Do we receive a certificate, or is there anything to sign? Yes, all celebrants will provide a certificate as a memento of the occasion.
Is there a legally required time for giving notice to hold a naming ceremony? No because this is not a legally recognised ceremony. As long as you can find a celebrant who is available, you can have it at short notice.
Are there any restrictions on when and where a naming ceremony can be held? A naming ceremony can be held anywhere and at any time.
Can single parents, unmarried and same sex couples have a naming ceremony for their child? Yes, the marital status of the parent(s) is of no concern
What documentation do I need to supply for a naming ceremony? There are no legal requirements to supply any documentation for a naming ceremony.
Can we write our own ceremony? Yes, you can.
Can Godparents be appointed at a naming ceremony? You can, but do not have to appoint Godparents as part of a naming ceremony. While a naming ceremony differs from a Baptism or Christening in that the Godparents are not required to accept any religious responsibility, most people in our society now understand the term Godparent to mean an older adult who acts as a friend and mentor to the child and supports his or her parents in the parenting role. Many people do appoint Godparents, and may use the term Guardian, Mentor, Sponsor or something similar to describe them.
One of the people I want to appoint as Godparent cannot be at the ceremony, can I still include him/her? Yes, the person will be mentioned by name, and you can have them sign the certificate at a later date.
Can we have a naming ceremony at the same time as our wedding? Yes you can and it is usually held after the marriage ceremony.
Do we get a certificate? Most celebrants provide a naming certificate. This is signed during the ceremony by the parents, supporting adults and the celebrant. However, unlike a birth certificate from the registry office, the naming certificate cannot be used as proof of identification.
Can I include other children at the same ceremony? Yes. It is very easy to incorporate an older child into the ceremony, or have a ceremony for twins, triplets, quads etc.
How long does the ceremony last? Usually a basic ceremony takes about 15 minutes but the time will increase if there are a few readings and other activities included.
Is the naming ceremony just for new born children? No. Most people name their babies within the first twelve months, with many opting to do so on the child’s first birthday. However, children of any age, and even adults can have a naming ceremony.
What happens at a naming ceremony? A naming ceremony will include a welcome and introduction, readings, parents’ promises or an affirmation of their love and care, the involvement of family and friends if you wish as godparents, carers, or mentors, the naming of the child and closing words. You may also wish to include the reasons for choice of names or their meaning, parents’ vow to each other, acknowledgement of the role of grandparents, presentation of a gift for the child, inclusion of other siblings, mention of absent guests. You decide what is included.
What is a memorial A ceremony to remember and pay tribute.
What is an unveiling Unveiling of a permanent memorial, such as a headstone.
What is a house warming/house blessing A ceremony to make your house your own and formally state all you wish for those who live in it and those who visit.
Birthday ceremony Honouring milestones for any age.
Anniversary ceremony An opportunity to celebrate and remember past events.
What is a coming of age ceremony Ceremonies can be held at 13 (entry to adulthood), 18 (legal majority) and 21(traditional majority).