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.