Who can perform a marriage ceremony in Australia?
First off, let’s be totally clear in what we mean by marriage ceremony and what’s involved before we delve any deeper. I mean the people who can legally marry you, the person who has authorization to make you say, do and sign all the right things so that you can change your legal status to that of a married person.
These people are:
- Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants
- Ministers of religion
- State and territory officers
- Prescribed authorities
And you can find the list of every single one of them in Australia here.
Who can’t marry you in Australia?
- Your best mate who hasn’t yet completed their celebrancy course but is 100% they will be registered in time – They might not be and they’re not allowed to take any bookings until the are.
- An overseas minister or priest.
- Anyone who is not one of the above people on the Attorney General’s list of approved people.
Now, I’m going to focus on Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants because I am one and that is the part I know and understand.
Getting Married or Having a Wedding?
There is a difference. A wedding is not actually a legal requirement for getting married. A wedding conjures up images of white dresses, cakes , fireworks and a big freaking bill, whereas getting married costs as little as what any of the above people charge you for their services. (Mind you that can be pretty varied too)
To get married in Australia there are a couple of things to know.
• not be married to someone else (so either never been married in any country, including Australia, or if you have previously been married you have to show proof that you are either divorced or your spouse died)
• not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister (er… obviously)
• be at least 18 years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old
• understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying (no forced marriages)
• use specific words during the ceremony (the celebrant has your back on this one)
• give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame. (No more than 18 months out from the marriage date, and no less than 1 calendar month before the marriage date)
You don’t have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. You don’t have to prove your in love, (we assume you might like each other) you just have to meet the criteria and complete all the steps.
The Steps to Getting Married In Australia
A completed Notice of Intended Marriage form must be given to your celebrant at least one month before the marriage. Note: you have to have this witnessed by an appropriate person. It is spelled out on the Notice who those people are but your neighbour, your chiropractor or your yogi instructor definitely do not count!)
Your celebrant can help you complete the form. The notice may be completed and witnessed outside Australia if required. (But there are specific people who can witness this document – if you are not sure – ask!)
Talk to your celebrant if there is less than one month before your wedding. A prescribed authority may approve a shorter notice time in some limited circumstances.
You will need to give your celebrant evidence of date and place of birth, identity and the end of any previous marriages for each party. (ie Birth certificates and/or passports, divorce certificates and/or death certificates)
During the ceremony the celebrant will explain the nature of marriage to you according to the Marriage Act 1961 and you will be required to say specific words during the ceremony to acknowledge that you are totally on board with getting married. These can’t be changed, have to said, also mean we need to use your full names (including embarrassing middle names)
On the day of your marriage, you will sign three marriage certificates. Each certificate should be signed by you, your celebrant and two witnesses. Your celebrant will give you one of the certificates as a record of your marriage. (It’s super pretty… Why do blogs not have a sarcasm feature)
Your celebrant must provide your marriage paperwork to the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state or territory in which the marriage took place within 14 days. (That’s my job, not yours)
The certificate issued by the registry of births, deaths and marriages is required for many official purposes. You should apply for a copy of this certificate from the registry after your wedding through the relevant registry of births, deaths and marriages.
Do you need a marriage license in Australia?
No, it’s an American thing that has slowly moved its way into our vocabulary but isn’t actually needed to marry in Australia. You need to do the paperwork, show the right ID , say the right words and sign the right papers as outlined above. Marriage licenses do not exist in Australia. We also don’t need to have blood tests to prove we aren’t carrying diseases or related to one another. #winning.
So in order to try and help you, and remember there are no hard and fast rules about what to say, or how much, here are a few tips and ideas.
One of the questions I get asked is “What about our vows!?”
Actually, sometimes people write vowels by mistake which is pretty funny.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY VOWS BE
The only thing that is important is what you say, not how long they go. The easiest way to say “I Love You” is the three little words. I. LOVE. YOU.
If you want to say a lot, consider having them on paper to read or giving me a copy to have on hand.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY
Whatever the hell you want (but some tips are below)
• Talk about the past, your years together and what they have meant to you.
• Talk about the now, what it means to you to get married and have this amazing person in your life.
• Talk about the future, what are your plans together and what do you want to happen.
• Talk about them, what they mean to you and what your admire about them
• Talk about you, how has knowing them changed your life, improved you or made you learn about yourself.
• Tell them you love them, tell them how happy you are and how often you are going to kiss them over the next 50 years.
SAYING YOUR VOWS
You DO NOT have to memorise your vows. If you do, that is awesome BRAVO! But don’t bust a kidney trying if it really beyond you or causing stress.
Your options are:
• Give me a copy of your vows and I can put them on my iPad and you can read them.
• Give me a copy of your vows and I can read them to you a couple of lines at a time.
• Try and memorise your vows, but still give me a copy so I can help if you get stuck or in trouble when the time comes
SECRET VOWS ?
Some people like to keep their vows a secret from each other, some like to write them together. This is a personal choice and up to the two of you.
If you are keeping them secret send them to me, as an email so I can make sure that they match and balance each other
Consider agreeing on a template or starting and finishing line so that they have the same feel.
If you are writing them together remember that you are different people, as much as you are perfect for each other you each bring something different to the table.
Don’t be afraid to change a few words to make them suit the individual
You know, the have, hold, love, honour etc. These vows have stood the test of time for a reason. Use them as they are but don’t be afraid to modernise or change them up too.
“Have and hold” could easily become “Stand by your side” or “cuddle endlessly”
TIPS AND POINTERS
Don’t be mushy or overly romantic, especially if that is not how you are as a couple/ person.
Humour is great but make sure the jokes aren’t insulting and that everyone [including your guests] is in on it .
Have someone you trust run an eye over them if you are really not sure
If you don’t have anything to say; don’t say anything. Personal vows are not legally required. As long as you say the lines required by law you are married.
HOW TO CHANGE IT UP
Here are some examples from my previous clients that show how to change things up a bit..
(NAME), you are my best friend, you are my home.
I promise to take care of you, to hug you when you’re mad.
I love your warmth, which has taught me to love you no matter what.
I promise I will always be here to keep you cool in the heat.
I look forward to sharing many more winters and summers together.
I promise to love you with all of my heart.
I will always be by your side, laughing with you, crying with you, sharing with you. My heart is yours and will be yours for the rest of my life.
My dear, my love, you make me happy inside. You are everything to me
and I would sacrifice so much and more for you. I am fairly crazy for you and I know you’re pretty crazy for me too. I have been looking forward to this day for so long now and it is finally here and I suppose these are meant to be vows, so here goes…. I vow to love you….. Love you more than spider-man loves mary jane, more than iron man loves himself, love you more than the hulk loves smashing, than robin loves bat- man. But most of all I promise to love you more… and more each day for the rest of our lives.
(PERSON 1): NAME , I vow to always be there for you. To help you through your hardships with a positive attitude and plenty of back rubs.
(PERSON 2) : NAME, I vow to never take for granted how lucky I am to have such a generous and compassionate person in my life.
(PERSON 1): I will always honour the sacrifices you have made to start a life and family with me.
(PERSON 2): I will always make our relationship and family my most important priority.
(PERSON 1): I will tell you I love you every day. It will be the last thing I say before I leave and the last thing before we go to sleep.
(PERSON 2) :I will make sure that you always know how much I love you, whether I say it a hundred times a day, or simply show it in a kiss on the forehead or a squeak when you hug me.
(PERSON 1): I vow to always “woah” at things you say and do that make me happy.
(PERSON 2) : I vow to never leave you hangin’.
(perform an awesome Top Gun High Five.)
(PERSON 1): Your heart is beautiful. I will always support the decisions you make to live ethically and the actions your heart tells you to take to make a difference to the world.
(PERSON 2) : I vow that no matter where life takes us, no matter what challenges lay ahead, that you will be my partner: my equal, my constant, my complement, my baby. My love.
(PERSON 1): I vow that no matter where life takes us, no matter what challenges lay ahead, that you will be my partner: my equal, my constant, my complement, my baby. My love.
Ask around. Someone will know someone who had or knows a celebrant. But make sure you ask for an opinion from the person making the recommendation. Were you at the wedding? What was the reaction from the guests? If they were the couple getting married what were they like to worth with? Did they answer emails promptly, were they nice, did they listen to what you wanted?
Google / facebook and insta stalk BUT look at the reviews/recommendations. Are people using words like “amazing celebrant”, “best day ever”, “perfect ceremony” or are they just so so (or even negative reviews).
Shop around. Look at a lot of websites. Read whats on them. You’ll get a vibe for what type of celebrant they are and if you might be interested in meeting with them.
Phone or skype them. It’s a great first step into decided whether or not your want to do a face to face. Have a quick 5 on the phone and if the vibe is good you might want to…
Meet face to face. If you’re not in love with them after all the of the above, chances are you are not going to be in love after meeting with them BUT if you are 99.9% of the way there or choosing between your top two a face to face chat can help you make the decision that’s right for you.
At the moment, there are over 9,000 celebrants in Australia. Every one of them has something to offer, a price they charge, and a way they do things. If what they do, matches what you want, then you have found your perfect celebrant! Book ‘em Danno!
- Complete the Notice of Intended Marriage and lodge with a marriage celebrant/ registry office no later than 1 month prior to the date of marriage.
- Provide appropriate identification and documentation to support the Notice of Intended Marriage.
- As close as possible to the date of marriage sign a Declaration of No Legal Impediment.
- Participate in a marriage ceremony, performed by a Registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, that includes all required wording under the Marriage Act and is witnessed by at least two people over the age of 18, not including the celebrant performing the ceremony.
BORN IN AUSTRALIA
You will need to show an original Australian Birth Certificate or Australian Passport.
You will need to show an original Birth Certificate or Current Overseas Passport.
You will need to show an original Divorce Certificate.
UNABLE TO SUPPLY REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
You may need to complete a Statutory Declaration. It is best to talk to your celebrant about your personal situation and discuss what may be required.
UNDER THE AGE OF 18
You will need to apply through Family Court for approval to marry. It is important to know that only one party to the marriage can be under the age of 18. If both persons are under age the marriage can not occur.
Wed by Kez Kissing Tips 👄👄👄
In Year 8 in the middle of a school music concert I played my first round of serious spin the bottle.🍾🍾🍾
I remember being horrified when Ivan Butcher accused me of trying to “swallow his nose” after we had kissed
In all fairness, I really didn’t know what I was doing and only had episodes of Degrassi Junior High to go on.
Don’t be me on your wedding day.
Here are the few pointers I give my couples when it comes to the suck face time of the actual ceremony.
1) Peck kisses are boring. You peck your Nan, not your lifelong partner. They also look terrible in photos -either giving you duck lips or squash face. No pecks!🦆
2) Count til at least 5 while kissing. Your photographer will love you for the chance to get more than 1 shot, so hang there for a while.⏲️
3) Practise. The night before give it s dress rehearsal (when you’re on your own – not in front of people, that would be weird) Find a dark corner and try a few things until you both agree on what’s going to happen the next day.
Now the don’ts:
⛔No surprises. None. This is one moment where you both need to know what’s going on.
⛔No dips or lifts unless your seriously practice. I mean it, you do not want to end up on a viral youtube video (or maybe you do??!!)
⛔No pornography. Keep the super passionate ass grabbing and tongue licking until the hotel room (If it happens at all, chances are you are going to be waaay to tired for any funny businesses)
Above all Make your kiss count. It IS your first kiss as a married couple. You want your guests to be a little “oooooeeeeoooo” because there’s some heat in that moment.
So you’ve done some paperwork and said some words, nice ones maybe, legal ones definitely and now you’re sitting down after your wedding ceremony ready to sign your new name on your marriage certificate..
I’m afraid that is not the case, and its something that a lot of people get confused about when it comes to get married.
Really, its quite simple.
On the actual day of your ceremony, you sign all three documents with the same name/signature that you used in all the pre-ceremony paperwork that you completed.
So if your name was Mr John Smith and you were planning to take your partner’s name after marriage – you would still sign the marriage certificate as Mr John Smith.
After you are married – if you plan to take your partners name, it’s take a little bit of effort and a bit of running around.
Straight up, no one has to take anyones name legally. Its not a required thing, it comes down to your own personal choice.
If you decide to take your partner’s name or they are taking yours here’s what happens
- You apply to BDM in the state that you got married for your Marriage Certificate. This will be mailed to you and is a document that shows the details of your marriage and also has the Registration Number of your marriage in the top right corner.
- Using your BDM marriage certificate you present that document at the RTA ( or State Equivalent), Banks, Medicare Office etc and ask them to change your name to your newly married name – its like slipping it on. Once you have enough ID (identifying documents) in your new name, then that is your name.
But what about a legal name change?
This is different to taking a name due to marriage. When you legally change your name – you surrender your birth certificate and are issued a new birth certificate in your new name.
Think of it this way – when you change your name from marriage – you are assuming a new name from the point of marriage – when you legally change your name , you are changing your name from the point of your birth.
What about name change kits?
In my humble, but loud, opinion these are a waste of time. Name change kits still require you to get your BDM marriage certificate and are essentially a mail merge to help you write the appropriate letters to send to organisations along with a certified copy of your BDM marriage certificates. If you want to be $30 plus dollars for something you could easily do yourself, well that’s up to you. But all you are saving is a small amount of time.
In Australia, every single government department (Tax Office, Medicare, Centrelink etc) will require you to provide the appropriate documents (BDM Marriage Certificate) in person to change your name in their database, as will banks, supernnuation, and some utilities.
Things to note:
You can change your passport into your new married name within the first 12 months after your marriage for free, as long as you have more than two years before your passport expires but you still have to put in a new passport application and provide photos. You will also have to surrender your old passport – so keep that in mind if you are planning a honeymoon
You should book your honeymoon in your maiden name (name before marriage) if you are planning to travel immediately after your wedding.
Also the passport office doesn’t love it, if you go ahead and change your drivers license, tax information, gas bill etc and keep your passport in your pre-marriage name. if you are going to go to the effort of changing your name, make sure you include your passport in that list.
A example of place where you will need to change your name is included below:
- Driver’s License
- Doctor’s surgery or anywhere that has your medical records
- Insurance companies
- Electricity, gas and water providers
- Tax office
- Your place of work
- Your mortgage provider
- Mobile phone provider
- Internet provider
- Any store cards you may have
- Breakdown cover (RACQ etc.)
- Local service providers (hairdressers, dry cleaners, mechanic etc.)
- Subscriptions (magazines, Netflix etc.)
- Memberships (such as the gym etc.)