Frequently Asked Questions
Where do we get a Marriage Licence?
Australian law does not require you to obtain a marriage licence.
Find a celebrant of your choice and he or she will have all the necessary papers for you to complete and lodge with the celebrant.
When should we book a celebrant?
As soon as you have decided on a specific date.
What is the Notice of Intended Marriage Form and how do we lodge it?
This is an Australian government form that must be lodged with your chosen celebrant at least one month before the wedding. The form remains current for 18 months before expiring.
The form, (which is downloadable from this site) may be witnessed by the persons listed on page 4 of the form. It must be given to your chosen celebrant by hand, by post, faxed or emailed at least 30 days before the wedding day. If faxed or emailed, the original copy must be posted to the celebrant the same day. Your celebrant can witness the document in person, and when he/she receives it, it is considered to be “lodged”.
What documents do we need to show our celebrant before the wedding?
A Birth certificate, extract of birth or Passport needs to be produced to your celebrant. No photocopies are acceptable.
A current or expired, but not cancelled passport may be shown. If these documents cannot be produced, you should advise your celebrant, who will organise and witness a Statutory Declaration regarding your birth details.
If one partner is not able to attend the celebrant’s office for the lodgement, the other can lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage alone, but both partners must sign before the wedding takes place.
My partner is divorced, and I am widowed, what documents should we show?
If previously married, evidence is need to show that the last marriage is ended. This is in the form of a Death Certificate of the previous spouse, or a Certificate of Divorce. Photocopies are not permitted. Replacement divorce papers may be obtained from the Family Law Court -1300 352 000
My girlfriend is 17 years of age, but will be 18 by the time of our wedding. I am twenty years of age. Can we marry legally?
Persons under the age of 18 years cannot legally marry in Australia. Both persons intending to marry must be over 18 years.
If one party is under 18, consent of a Court Order is required under section 2 of the Marriage Act 1961. Parental consent alone is not acceptable, although a Judge may consider parental views.
In this case the intended groom may lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage with the bride signing after she has reached the age of 18 years.
My partner cannot speak or understand English, so what should we do?
Advise the celebrant at the time of the booking. An interpreter must be appointed to translate from English to the Mother tongue of your partner and in the reverse. Two Statutory declarations must be signed by the interpreter- one before the wedding to say they are able to translate as required and two, to say they have completed the duty. The interpreter may also be required to explain the Declarations that the non- English speaker has to sign before the wedding can take place.
Do we need to appoint official witnesses to the wedding?
Two adult persons, who have witnessed the vows, and signing of official papers after the ceremony must also sign and give their full names. They should appear to be over the age of 18 years. They are usually from the wedding party, but can be anyone at the wedding.
Can we change our wedding date or venue after booking?
Yes, but speak to your celebrant about their availability. There may be a surcharge, or the Notice of Intended Marriage may have to be transferred to another celebrant, if your celebrant is not available. The month long waiting period after the first lodgement remains current. If weather problems may be an issue at your wedding venue, please discuss alternatives with your celebrant at the time of booking. The health and safety of you, your guests and the celebrant are paramount.
Ideas for Dress code for ceremonies?
Themed weddings are popular, and your theme should be discussed with your celebrant at the time of booking. Although under no obligation to comply most celebrants are willing to co-operate, if possible, with themes or colour schemes. From smart casual to formal wear, the wedding dress code is entirely up to you.
How much will it cost?
The most popular question. Remember that your celebrant holds full legal responsibility to perform your marriage ceremony and register the details correctly. Celebrants are free to set a charge that reflects and includes
- Lodging the Notice of Intended Marriage
- Checking Documents
- Writing a ceremony to suit your individual requirements and the law
- Producing Marriage Certificates
- Performing your ceremony at a venue, date and time of your choosing
- Registering your marriage with the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages
- Travel to and from your chosen venue
In addition the celebrant may supply at extra cost
- furniture (table and chairs, tablecloth)
- a PA system
- faxes, STD calls phone and mobile calls
- calligraphy on certificates
Discuss with your celebrant an overall fee, including any added extras, and when a deposit and full payment is required. Most celebrants issue an invoice at the time of Lodgement.
Can we have a surprise wedding?
Yes, you can surprise your guests, but you CANNOT surprise your intended spouse. Both parties must agree to marry, and the decision should not be made under duress, but with due thought and consideration.
Can I change the wording of the Vows? Can I just say “I do”?
One sentence is essential for the legality of a marriage, and as long as that is said by both parties, the rest of the vows can be individually chosen, but should reflect that the commitment to marriage is for life..
The sentence is
“I, J...... S .... call upon the persons here present to witness that I take you, S....... M.... to be my lawful wedded wife/husband”
Some minor adjustments can be made e.g. lawful or wedded can be removed, but not both words.
The Marriage Act 1961 Section 45(2) is very specific about this, and the minimum requirement for legal marriage must be complied with.