I add more regularly but there are hundreds of wedding questions answered but if you have another question that is not covered, or you are unsure about the answer given, call me. and I will do my best to assist you.

Your ‘new’ question/answer, may even be added with your credit. 

All care is taken but the content is for general assistance only and is not purported to be legal or expert advice of any kind. All answers are under review as there have been a number of changes in laws and regulations so you should call me if unsure, or check the law or regulations. Check back regularly for updates or just call me.

If you find something is missing, incorrect, or needs updating, let me know. For simplicity, please forgive that the Couple is occasionally referred to as the Bride & Groom even though they may be a Groom & Groom or Bride & Bride, or any other descriptor instead of just Party 1 and Party 2.

The main reference sources are listed near the bottom of this page.

This collection of questions and answers, including its format, is subject to copyright 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.

    • ©2017 , 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2021, 2022 – Copyright: A Life Celebrant- Lou Szymkow


 +61 (0) 457 00 1922    lou@alifecelebrant.com.au

www.alifecelebrant.com.au

How to use this page:

Hundreds of questions on hundreds of pages but all readily accessible subject groups.

Two easy ways to search:

1:    Just scroll through the index and/or entire page to find your subject and maybe your very question

2:    Press Ctrl + F keys on your keyboard and search for a keyword.

    • e.g. if you want an answer to a question about a ‘Certificate’ just press Ctrl + F on your keyboard and:
      • then type the word  ‘Certificate’, into the search box, and
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INDEX OF TOPICS AND WEDDING QUESTIONS


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ANNIVERSARY

Can we get married again on our anniversary?

You can have a ‘Renewal’ but you cannot actually legally marry a second time unless divorced.

Can we have a Ceremony to celebrate our anniversary?

Of course, you can.
It can be a small ceremony in your garden or a festive event at a venue of choice and so can be as small or as large as you choose.
I like to include bits and pieces from your original ceremony but that is your choice entirely as some couples like to start completely anew.
If there are children, they can be involved, or not. The entire ceremony is your choice but I will offer some guidance just as I would with a new wedding.

Can we sign a certificate?

Yes. I can create one for you and as many or as few witnesses as you choose can sign if you like, we just cannot use an Australian Coat of Arms on it, and cannot use an official ‘Marriage Certificate’

What is an appropriate gift for an anniversary?

Follow the link to find a pdf with anniversaries listed showing a guide to gifts & their meanings, colours, & flowers.

Click here for an Anniversary Guide to Gifts, Colours & Flowers


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ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE

How do I apply for nullity?

To apply for nullity, you must file an Initiating Application. You will also need to prepare an affidavit stating:

      1. the facts relied on to have the marriage annulled, and
      2. details of the type of marriage ceremony performed.

For more information see the fact sheet Applying for a decree of nullity.

You will also need to pay the filing fee. Fees are set by regulation.

The current fees are available on the fees page.

In some cases, for example, if you hold certain government concession cards or you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for a reduced fee. See the Guidelines for reduced fee – divorce and decree of nullity application.

More information can be found on the fees page of the relevant website, including an explanation of different payment methods.

eFiling – Initiating Applications can be electronically filed through the Commonwealth Courts Portal (www.comcourts.gov.au). For more information see the Commonwealth Courts Portal User Guide.

We have been married for just a short while and I think we made a mistake. Can you annul the marriage?

No, I cannot.

I am a Registered marriage Celebrant and so can conduct the marriage ceremony which I must register but I do not have any authority under the Marriage Act to cancel or annul a marriage.

Under the Family Law Act 1975, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia have the power to declare a marriage invalid.

I strongly recommend you consider counselling and you will find a list of potential services at Counselling & Relationship Education on my LINKS – Helpful People tab.

If unable to reconcile, you can find information on the fact sheet from the Family Court Applying for a decree of nullity.

What is a declaration of nullity?

A declaration of nullity is a finding that there was no legal marriage between the parties, even though a marriage ceremony may have taken place. The Family Court of Australia may declare a marriage invalid on the following grounds:

      1. one or both of the parties were already married at the time
      2. one or both of the parties were under-age and did not have the necessary approvals, or
      3. one or both of the parties were forced into the marriage under duress.

The Court will NOT declare a marriage invalid on the following grounds:

      1. Non-consummation of the marriage
      2. Never having lived together
      3. Family violence or
      4. Other incompatibility situations.

For more information see the fact sheet Applying for a decree of nullity.

See Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) of the Family Law Rules 2004 for more information on what grounds a party may apply for a decree of nullity.]

What goes on my NOIM and certificate if my previous Marriage has been annulled?

The term ‘never validly married’ may be used on the NOIM where a court issued decree of nullity, or an annulment, exists in relation to a party’s previous marriage. A decree of nullity is an order from the court stating that there is no legal marriage between the parties, even though a marriage ceremony may have taken place.

An annulment granted by a church is not the same as a court issued annulment and does not demonstrate that a person is free to marry.

Which courts can declare a marriage invalid?

Under the Family Law Act 1975, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia have the power to declare a marriage invalid.

APOSTILLE SEAL

How much does an Apostille Seal cost?

As of January 2022, the following the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) fees applied but go to that department to get an update on fees as they increase each year:

  • Apostille and Authentication                            A$87
  • Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage    A$153

For up-to-date information on DFAT fees for an Apostille Seal, see the external link to DFAT: How much does it cost?

What is an Apostille Seal?

An Apostille is simply the name for a specialised certificate, issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DEFAT) that recognizes & authenticates documents such as birth, marriages, marital status, deaths certificates and other documents.

The word Apostille (pronounced “ah-po-steel”) derives from the Latin post illa and then French: a marginal note).

The Apostille is attached to your original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic so it will be accepted in one of the other countries who are members of the Hague Apostille Convention.

It is an international certification under the international Apostille Convention, (Apostille) drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It is comparable to a notarisation or certification under domestic law. If the convention applies between two countries, an apostille is sufficient to certify a document’s validity, and removes the need for double-certification, by the originating country and then by the receiving country.

There are four types of documents mentioned in the convention:

    1. court documents
    2. administrative documents (e.g. civil status documents which will include Birth death & Marriage certificates)
    3. notarial acts
    4. official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

For more information, see:

How do I apply for an Apostille Seal?

To request DFAT services, complete the Document legalisation request form.

It’s important that you prepare your documents and complete the request form accurately as they don’t accept incomplete requests.

Check what documents DEFAT will accept.

How do I find out if I need my documents legalised before I travel overseas?

DFAT can’t tell you if you must get your documents legalised.

You must ask the overseas authority who requested your document.

This means contacting the individual, business, organisation, educational institution or government agency directly. Ask them if you must get your document legalised before they’ll accept it.

Which documents can DFAT legalise in Australia?

DFAT can only legalise Australian public documents:

  • originals issued by Australian government agencies or officials
  • originals issued by Australian tertiary education institutions
  • copies notarised by Australian Notary Publics

DFAT can’t legalise any other documents in Australia.

Learn more about documents DFAT can legalise.

ARCH

Do you provide a canopy, ‘chuppah’ or arch?

Generally, no.

It is always best that you provide all the decorations, however, I may possibly be able to procure one if you cannot find one.

You should find suppliers on my Helpful People tab.

BABY

How can I include very young children in my Ceremony?

see also How can I include children in my Ceremony?

There are many ways children can be included in your Ceremony.

You will find this same, or an updated general version, of this information in Wedding Ideas on my web page, or click the link to go directly to the section on Children, but the following is about the very young.

Go to Children, if you are looking for ideas for more so for teenage children.

Read on if you are looking for ideas for including babies.

For your own children who are articulate and over 6 in particular, you’re including them in the ceremony can remove anxiety about the Ceremony, as they are of course, a very important part of your marriage and of the ‘new’ family it creates, so it is always preferable to include them in some way in the wedding ceremony.

So this section is about the very young and of course about the recognition of the partner in marriage as that partner will now also  be a partner in parenting.

Where a child is old enough to recognise his/her own name, inclusion for them  can be as simple as mentioning their names during key parts of the ceremony such as the vows, or including them in a unifying ritual.

The Celebrant can also mention and introduce them early in the Ceremony.

A child of that age will of course require:

    • a carer/minder a
    • a change of clothes
    • nappies
    • rest
    • food/drink
    • reassurance
    • a retreat when needed
    • lots of practice to provide confidence

The minder is very important as you will be busy with the Ceremony and so it is best you are not distracted.

The minder can have the change of clothes and other needs on hand and can offer reassurance and guidance.

Depending on ages and ability of the young child, you can assign set tasks and responsibilities such as:

  • Bridal escort (with minder)
  • Junior Bridesmaid/Groomsman (with minder)
  • Page boy (with minder)
  • Flower girl/boy (with minder)
  • Ring bearer/s (rings can be pinned to baby’s garment)
  • Announcer (if of speaking age)
  • and lots more….

It is really up to the imagination, but many choose ‘unity’ rituals which create inclusiveness.

With a baby though, it is also about parental inclusion, i.e. setting the base for family bonding and future parenting

Follow the links to find out more.

If you are choosing to take on a new name, you may even wish to include a Naming Ceremony for your children (though an official Change of Name, would still have to be lodged with the Registry of Births Deaths and marriages – for more information on changing names, see NAME CHANGE IN NSW: How do I change my name in NSW after marriage?. )

You might also enjoy this video:

BACKUP CELEBRANTS

What happens if you get sick or injured and can’t officiate on the day?

Your wedding should continue without issue.

I have existing arrangements with other Celebrants who can step in to help.

I am also a member of a number of Celebrancy associations and so have access to many Celebrants who also value your wedding day.

If I am somehow incapacitated (car accident on way to ceremony) and so unable to contact the other Celebrants, I will have a file with me and a copy of the file in a Dropbox shared to you, so that a new Celebrants can have access to all documents.

BEACH WEDDINGS

How do I choose a beach for a beach wedding?

We certainly do live on the world’s largest island and so are surrounded by incredible beaches.

A beach wedding can be magnificent but be prepared so as to ensure it is as wonderful as you imagined, so here are some BEACH WEDDING TIPS 

For more information on beaches, go to:

What should we consider if choosing a beach wedding?

A beach wedding can be magnificent but be prepared so as to ensure it is as wonderful as you imagined, so here are some BEACH WEDDING TIPS 


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BESPOKE WEDDINGS

What does Bespoke mean?

Bespoke is an English word used in the clothing industry when referring to tailored clothing, e.g. a bespoke suit made especially for one person, and is an adjective.

It is a word that was adopted by shoemakers and exclusive furniture manufacturers but more recently has oddly been adopted by Celebrants who are trying to say that tailor Ceremonies to the individual. It is not a word that I commonly use as a Celebrant but of course, I create ceremonies to suit the couple.

What is a bespoke ceremony?

Bespoke is an English word used in the clothing industry when referring to tailoring especially for one person.

So a Bespoke ceremony is one that is tailored or written/designed uniquely for a couple or occasion.

Do you perform bespoke ceremonies?

All my Ceremonies are unique and tailored to the couple.

There may be some similarities between Ceremonies as legal aspects must be addressed, and there are some things that I do differently to other Celebrants which couples like to include but I meet with you to design your dream Ceremony and to make certain it is one that you will enjoy and want to be a part of (so not boring but definitely fun).

There are lots of Ideas and Suggestions on my webpage but don’t let that limit your imagination. It is your Ceremony, and so let’s design it together.

BESTMAN

How to choose a Best Man?

Having a Best Man or even two or more, at your wedding is not compulsory and even gender is no longer a given but having made a choice to have a Best Man, here is a process that may assist.

Step 1:    make a list of the duties (including expenses & interactions) to be undertaken

Step 2:    consider character, relationships (with yourself, bride and bridesmaids) and skills, make a list of contenders e.g. best friend, brother/sister, cousin, Dad, son, etc.

Step 3:    cross out anyone who could not reliably perform or undertake those duties but if you cannot narrow the list to less than two, maybe have two or more

Step 4:    talk to the remainder on the list to gauge:

          • their agreement to being on the list
          • availability to perform the role
          • enthusiasm

Step 5:    Review Steps 2 & 3, and by now you should have a choice

What does the Best Man do?

Well originally, the role was that of a male who would accompany and protect the potential groom as he raided a neighbouring village to kidnap a bride, and then stand sword at the ready to fight off, or ‘Best’, the bride’s father or others who might try to rescue her.

We don’t have many of those raids these days and so the best man’s role is now more about being supportive and helpful, and so the role is not necessarily life-threatening and may not be a male.

The responsibility is to support the person marrying, including:

    • Provide emotional and physical support and encouragement, wherever needed
    • Organize the bachelor party and how to split the bill.
    • Help the groom choose and rent/buy the attire
    • Help arrange accommodation for other groomsmen if needed
    • Coordinate the groomsmen’s gifts to the groom.
    • Attend any rehearsals
    • make a toast whenever appropriate
    • ensure the Groom and his men arrive at the Ceremony on time and are ready to go.
    • Safely and securely hold on to the wedding rings
    • Help welcome guests to the wedding or reception
    • Serve as a witness during the marriage and in signing certificates.
    • Step in as MC at the reception if needed
    • Offer the first toast to the newlyweds at the reception with a great speech
    • Mingle at the reception to make sure guests are having a good time.
    • Dance with the bride, the maid/matron of honour, the mother of the bride, and the mother of the groom during the reception.
    • Collect any gifts and cards guests and keep safe and secure
    • Be ready and attentive for any photographs
    • Decorate the getaway car if appropriate.
    • Take care of the groom’s clothes after he changes out of his wedding attire.
    • Coordinate car transportation for the bride and groom to leave the reception.
    • Make sure any rented tuxes are returned on time (and intact).

Who can be my Best Man?

The role of the Best Man is one of support to the groom however there is no legal requirement around the role and so the Best Man/Woman/Person/Aid can be anyone at all.

The choice is entirely up to the person marrying as to who might be chosen.

Originally, the role was that of a male who would accompany and protect the potential groom as he raided a neighbouring village to kidnap a bride, and then stand sword at the ready to fight off, or ‘Best’, the bride’s father or others who might try to rescue her.

As we don’t have many of those raids these days and so the role is not necessarily life-threatening, the role can be renamed and/or handed to anyone (e.g. father, son, brother, sister, other relative, friend, workmate etc) who can fulfill the responsibilities, which may include:

    • Provide emotional and physical support and encouragement, wherever needed
    • Organize the bachelor party and how to split the bill.
    • Help the groom choose and rent/buy the attire
    • Help arrange accommodation for other groomsmen if needed
    • Coordinate the groomsmen’s gifts to the groom.
    • Attend any rehearsals
    • make a toast whenever appropriate
    • ensure the Groom and his men arrive at the Ceremony on time and are ready to go.
    • Safely and securely hold on to the wedding rings
    • Help welcome guests to the wedding or reception
    • Serve as a witness during the marriage and in signing certificates.
    • Step in as MC at the reception if needed
    • Offer the first toast to the newlyweds at the reception with a great speech
    • Mingle at the reception to make sure guests are having a good time.
    • Dance with the bride, the maid/matron of honour, the mother of the bride, and the mother of the groom during the reception.
    • Collect any gifts and cards guests and keep safe and secure
    • Be ready and attentive for any photographs
    • Decorate the getaway car if appropriate.
    • Take care of the groom’s clothes after he changes out of his wedding attire.
    • Coordinate car transportation for the bride and groom to leave the reception.
    • Make sure any rented tuxes are returned on time (and intact).

BIRTH CERTIFICATE

If a party to a marriage was born overseas and does not have an overseas birth certificate, what name should they put on the NOIM?

If the person does not have, or is not able to obtain, a birth certificate an authorised celebrant will need to see a passport issued by the Australian government or a government of an overseas country as evidence of the person’s date and place of birth.

If that is not possible, the celebrant should require a statutory declaration executed under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 from the person to meet the requirements of section 42 of the Act relating to evidence of date and place of birth.

If the party is not an Australian citizen the party may use the name on their overseas passport on the NOIM.

If their name or date and place of birth are written in another language the celebrant should advise the party to provide him or her with a formal translation of the document so that the celebrant knows how the name should be written in English.

If the person is an Australian citizen then the name as shown on their Citizenship Certificate may be used on the NOIM only if the person also has photo ID in the same name as the name on their Citizenship Certificate: such as a driver’s licence, proof of age/photo card; or an Australian or overseas passport. Please note that in this case the celebrant would only be using the Certificate of Australian Citizenship to confirm the person’s name/identity, and not for checking the person’s date and place of birth.

You will find links or contact details for the State Registries, and some International Registries details on my Helpful links page.

What if a person believes the spelling on their birth certificate is incorrect?

For example, the name on their birth certificate is spelt ‘Vicky’ and they have always used ‘Vicki’.

Authorised celebrants should tell the person that their name as it appears on their birth certificate and their name as it appears on the NOIM should be the same.

If the person believes there is an error in the spelling of their name on their birth certificate they may apply to have the birth certificate corrected at the relevant BDM. If their birth certificate is corrected they may then use the name on the corrected certificate on the NOIM.

Authorised celebrants should also tell the person that any discrepancy between their name as it appears on their birth certificate and their name as it appears on the marriage documents may mean that they may encounter problems if they wish to obtain an Australian passport in their married name.

You will find links or contact details for the State Registries, and some International Registries details on my Helpful links page.

BIRTH DEATHS & MARRIAGES REGISTRATION

What are the contact details for the BDM?

To access registration information, you will need to provide proof of your connection and identity.

For the most part, registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Australia is maintained by the states & territories.

You will find links or contact details for the State Registries, and some International Registries details on my Helpful links page.

BOUQUET & GARTER TOSS

When do we throw the bouquet and garter?

The bouquet and garter are thrown just before the Couple makes their hasty escape for their honeymoon and so essentially at the end of the night unless of course they plan to stay, in which case it can occur any time after the cake cutting.

Why do Brides throw their bouquet?

Traditionally it was considered very good luck to touch the bride and that luck might be extended by snatching a piece of the bride’s dress or veil and so the safer option was for the bride to throw her bouquet to distract the guests as the Couple makes a hasty escape off to their honeymoon. The unmarried girl who caught the bouquet was then so ‘lucky’ as to be the next bride.

BRIDAL PARTY – SEE WEDDING PARTY

We have a wedding/bridal party of mixed sexes, so what title do we give each member of the Party as they are not necessarily Bridesmaids?

Here are some suggestions:

      • Aid/s of Honour
      • Assistant of Honour
      • Best Aid
      • Best Assistant
      • Best Man
      • Best Support
      • Best Woman
      • Brides’ Aids,
      • Bridesmaids,
      • Cheer Leader
      • Cheer squad
      • Flower Bearer
      • Flower girl/boy/Child
      • Friend of Honour
      • Grooms’ Aids,
      • Groomsmen,
      • Loved ones
      • Maid of Honour
      • Matron of Honour (married person)
      • Personal Assistant
      • Ring Bearers
      • Supporters

So “please welcome the Supporting Party, beginning with our first Brides’ Aid…”

BRIDE & GROOM DESCRIPTOR CHOICES

What choices do we have in regard to being identified as a Bride or a Groom?

There are three options for a party’s description on the NOIM. You can choose:

  1. Partner
  2. Bride
  3. Groom

During the Ceremony legal bits, however, there are five options for the Vows:

  1. Partner
  2. Bride
  3. Groom
  4. spouse
  5. partner in marriage

It may be beneficial for couples to discuss which descriptors are preferred, prior to the marriage ceremony.

BUDGET

How much does a wedding cost?

You decide.

Every wedding is as unique as the couple being married.

A recent survey suggested that the average cost of a wedding in Australia is $45,000 but many of the wedding at which I have officiated have a greater value in the Ceremony and who shares the occasions, rather the $ value of a huge reception and so the $cost starts at about $600 and goes upward from there depending entirely on your budget and dreams.

You should find some well-priced suppliers on my Helpful People tab.

Where should I focus my budget?

That depends on what is most important to you.

The first consideration is the actual Ceremony and everything else is dressing and style and, so it is your dreams and your style that dictates focus beyond that point.

Decide what you want. Amazing decor, a wild dance party, a theme?

Before putting together your budget, discuss your vision for the day and be guided by that.

You may also find some well-priced suppliers on my Helpful People tab.

CANDLES

Are unity or memorial candle lighting rituals included and who provides the candle?

You can include almost any ritual you like in your ceremony.

You can find some candle retailers on my Helpful People tab: Candles if you want a special candle keepsake of your choice so that you can keep it for anniversaries and other occasions, but otherwise I do have one or two that I can bring along if needed.

CAR DECORATIONS

Why do we tie cans to the back of a wedding car?

Back when marriages were arranged, and all took place in the village or castle, the marriage was not complete until the marriage was ‘consummated’, and so guests would follow the couple to the bedroom, banging and clanging on pots and pans as a form of encouragement. In some instances, particularly in royal unions, the crowd would remain until the ‘union’ had taken place, all the while banging and clanging on those pots and pans to continue the encouragement.

With couples leaving a reception by carriage or now by car, the pots and pans were tied to the vehicle for the same purpose.

CARPET

Do you include the red carpet and arch?

Generally, no.

But I may be able to procure some. I do have a 10 metres green runner and there are suppliers listed under decorations on my Helpful People page.


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CELEBRANT AT RECEPTION

Are we meant to invite the celebrant to stay for the reception?

If you would like the Celebrant to also act as the MC for the reception, this can be arranged but will incur a separate fee.

If you wish to invite the Celebrant to attend the reception as a non-working guest, it is a lovely but unnecessary gesture and so you are in no way obligated to do so.

The first things that the Celebrant must do after the Ceremony are:

    • ensure the safety & security of your certificates & documents.
    • pack up & remove valuable equipment.
    • Be available for photographs
    • Possibly journey to the next Ceremony

A lot of work and energy goes into preparing for a ceremony and so the celebrant might just need a rest afterward and if attending the reception, the ‘work’ might continue.😊

So, invite if you wish, but please don’t be offended if the Celebrant politely declines.

CEREMONY

How can I incorporate something special at the end of the ceremony?

Easy. Decide what you want, and we will work together to make it come to fruition.

There are many ideas on this page and on my Wedding Ideas page

How do I know what to do next?

You will approve the Ceremony script beforehand, but I will guide you through the entire ceremony.
If you like we can have a full rehearsal on-site which might be important & helpful for larger wedding at a venue but usually a run through is sufficient for small wedding.
If you are using a wedding planner, the planner will coordinate activities outside and around of the ceremony.
Have you had any disasters at a wedding

Have you had any disasters at a wedding?

None at all.. well none that were unsolvable. There have been near-misses but as a professional Celebrant, I try to anticipate any problems that might arise and if they do, I problem solve.

All of my ceremonies or receptions continued beautifully.

DISASTER

SOLUTION

The couple forgot their candle for one of the rituals: I always have spares.
Had a wedding in a park where it was so hot that the candle supplied by the couple had melted, and then I burned my fingers on the signing pen left on the table in the heat Was too late for the candle but I advise couples on the type of candle to be used and supply a lantern cover.

As for the pens, I always have spares

Bride hyperventilated in the wedding car I had to sit with her for 20 minutes until she was calm and relaxed.
Sudden storm came over We moved to a covered area
Faulty fire alarm went off during the reception and fire engines arrived. Took pictures and video for the couple to laugh over on their anniversary.

Kept the entire party calm though prepared for evacuation if necessary

Bride arrived 2 hours later after her driver got lost though she lived just 10 minutes away Entertained the guests until the bride arrived
Hair/makeup ran late, and bride arrived an hour late I always advise coupes to remind the hair & makeup people that they will have to pay for any additional costs caused by their negligence. Had not had a bride arrive late since

Having said that, I mentor other Celebrants and have heard some shockers, mostly from the USA:

  • Rings dropped and lost on a bridge or on a beach
  • (Aust) Candles set fire to the decorations and burned the historic venue and so ceremony finished in the carpark with fire engines behind
  • (Aust & USA) A storm destroyed the marque causing it to collapse on the entire setup
  • Bride dislocated her shoulder throwing the bouquet
  • Bride arrived on water skis and face planted into the beach
  • Bride fell in mud walking up the aisle
  • Groom arrived driving a golf buggy and ran over the Celebrant who had to be hospitalised
  • An irate relative arrived mid-ceremony and verbally abused the wedding party before being removed by Police
  • Groom vomited
  • Celebrant vomited
  • Groom attacked the Maid of Honour with a fork
  • Groom or elderly relative was taken from the ceremony in an ambulance
  • Groom arrested (they didn’t say why or at what point in the ceremony )

CEREMONY POSITIONS

What side are we supposed to stand on during the ceremony?

Back when bride’s were ‘capture’ or kidnapped from their village, the groom would hold his new bride with his left arm so that his sword arm was free, hence the bride stands to the left of the groom.

The is a modern exception in that if the groom is from the military or forces and wears a sword in a modern ceremony, the bride would stand to his right so that she is not poked by the sword.

As we don’t usually have a ‘captured’ bride anymore, you can choose where to stand.

You might even consider your photos, and which is your ‘best side’

Those attending to one or the other of the couple, would usually fan out in a line running out from the couple and whilst it is important for the Best Man and Maid of Honour to be close to the couple, the others could mix & match.

Positions will then be dictated by the Ceremony style, rituals, entrance, venue etc.
Guests of the bride and groom would usually follow suit, sitting on the side of whomever they know best or are related to.

For Jewish ceremonies, it’s the opposite. Groom to the left, Bride to the right.

For small and casual events, you may stand wherever you choose. Circles are often nice.

One more point to consider is that in a religious ceremony, the entire Bridal/Wedding Party faces the altar but in a Civil Ceremony with guests, everyone usually faces the guests however if there are no guests, then a circle can be formed comprising of the Couple, witnesses, and Celebrant.

Where do I stand during the ceremony?

Positions will be dictated by the Ceremony style, rituals, entrance, venue etc.
Traditionally, the bride stands to the left side and the groom on the right. (ask me why).
Guests of the bride and groom should follow suit, sitting or standing on the side of whomever they know best or are related to but if close to both, just fill the gaps.

Which side is the bride’s side, and which is the groom’s side at the ceremony?

In western culture, traditionally, the bride stands to the left of the groom. (ask me why), but this is not a certainty in a Civil Ceremony and so best to simply look up at the Ceremony space and you will see most likely see who is standing where standing and depending on whom you are most connected with will dictate where you would sit, however, positions may be dictated by the Ceremony style, rituals, entrance, venue etc.

At a Religious Ceremony in a Christian Church, the couple would face the altar with the Bride standing at the left but in a Synagogue she would be on the right.

However, at a Civil Ceremony, the couple will be facing each other or the guests and so opposite sides to a Church of the Bride is to be on the Groom’s left.

Therefore, guests of the couple should sit on the side of whomever they know best or are related to while mutual friends should sit on the side that has fewer people.

Many couples though now opt for people to sit wherever they are most comfortable as at a Civil Ceremony we are not bound by tradition; as the couple is free to create their own new traditions.

Why does the Groom stand to the right?

This tradition originates in the times when women were regarded as possessions or as a direct link to wealth as an heir and so it was always feared that the Bride might be kidnapped or might have had other suitors who could interfere and so the Groom (and his Best Man) stood to the right to keep their sword arms free enabling quick and ready access to their swords so that they might be able to defend the marriage ceremony.

If the groom was left-handed, logically that would reverse but as left-handed was somehow regarded as being inferior, men of the times still battled with their right hands.


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CERTIFICATES

Can I order my NSW BDM Marriage registration certificate through you?

Yes, of course. I’m pleased to help however I do add a handling fee.

If I, as your Celebrant, order the NSW Certificate for you, I find that it usually gets delivered within 2-5 working days by Registered Post but that is, of course, subject to NSW BDM processing time and Australia Post, delivery periods (had one take about 7 days in post).

The last time I looked, the Fees for a direct application to the NSW BDM were listed on the NSW BDM Webpage, however they go up annually so best to check if you need to; oh, and they have a credit card fee of about 3% as well:

How many marriage certificates must an authorised celebrant prepare for signing?

The short answer is Three.

The detailed answer follows and can be found in section 6 THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES (page 82) of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants – July 2014.

Section 50 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires the authorised celebrant to prepare and sign the following three marriage certificates for each marriage he or she solemnises:

the Form 16 official certificate of marriage, which is sent to the relevant BDM for registration purposes (discussed further in Part 6.1 of these Guidelines)

the second Form 16 official certificate of marriage kept by the authorised celebrant or the church (discussed further in Part 6.2 of the Guidelines), and

the Form 15 certificate of marriage, which is given to the parties (discussed further in Part 6.4 of the Guidelines).

Each of these certificates is regarded as evidence of the marriage an authorised celebrant must take the utmost care in preparing them and so the couple, witness and Celebrant must all take care signing them.

Subsection 45(3) of the Marriage Act states that a certificate of marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnised in accordance with that section.

It will be necessary for authorised celebrants to prepare all three certificates before the ceremony.

No other certificates that include the words ‘marriage certificate’ or contain the Commonwealth Coat of Arms can be issued.

A replacement certificate cannot be issued in case of damage or loss.

Other souvenirs that do not purport to be a marriage certificate are acceptable, such as a framed copy of the vows, or a copy of the ceremony.

Please note that some Births, Deaths & Marriages Registries, issue commemorative certificates to couples, however these are not official certificates of marriage.

If the ceremony does not take place, the celebrant still has some work to do as the Celebrant must:

  • destroy the certificate for the parties (Form 15) and
  • record the details on the record keeping sheet.
  • destroy the registration copy (Form 16)  and
  • mark the butt of the registration copy as ‘cancelled’, and
  • mark the entry in the register (second official certificate) as ‘cancelled’.

Statutory declaration in the absence of a birth certificate.

If a party does not have a birth certificate (for example, if a party was born in a refugee camp and did not receive a birth certificate) or passport, the party, or a parent of the party, may make and give to the authorised celebrant a statutory declaration setting out the reasons why it is ‘impracticable’ (impossible) to obtain such a certificate or extract. The declaration must also state, to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief, and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born (see Part 12.5 of these Guidelines for further information on statutory declarations).

Other than in very exceptional circumstances, an authorised celebrant should not accept a statutory declaration from a person born in Australia, as it is almost always possible to obtain a birth certificate or extract from the State or Territory of birth. However, in the very rare situation that a party born in Australia does not have a birth certificate or extract (or a passport) and it is impracticable to obtain one, they may provide a statutory declaration instead. For example, a party who was born in a remote community whose birth was never registered with authorities may not be able to obtain an official birth certificate. It would be appropriate to allow such a person to make a statutory declaration as proof of their date and place of birth.

What certificates or amendments to certificates, can I apply for at the NSW Registry of Births, Death & Marriages (NSW BDM)?

Once a life event is registered in NSW, you can apply online for a certificate. NSW BDM advises that their system is device-friendly, fully integrated, safe and secure but that you should ensure you are using the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox. I always find that when dealing with any government department, Internet Explore tends to have fewer glitches.

These are the online links:

These are links to fillable forms for use in requests by mail or in person:

Type ​Application forms
Birth​
Death
Marriage
Relationship
Change of Name
Amendments
Other forms

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful links page.

When can I get my Marriage registration certificate?

I may be able to acquire this for you, but Certificates are otherwise distributed by registered post when you apply by post, online or in person at Service NSW or other agencies. Australia Post regular delivery time is up to 6 working days.

Certificates can be collected in person when an application is lodged at a Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages Office, but Commemorative certificates are delivered by mail.

When applying by post, online or in person at Service NSW or other agencies, certificates are distributed by Registered Post. The fee for Postage & Handling ($9 including GST) is already added into prices below.

Contact the relevant registry of Births, Death and Marriages. You will need to provide proof of your connection and identity, but you will be able to then obtain a corrected birth, death or marriage certificate from the registry in the state in which the event was originally recorded.

The easier option is to have me order it for you which I can do online when I register your marriage.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful links page.

CERTIFICATE ERRORS & CORRECTIONS

Can corrections be made to documents after the marriage ceremony takes place?

The NOIM cannot be changed once the marriage is solemnised, but other documents may be if parties are still present at the ceremony, otherwise any error, can only be corrected upon applications being submitted to the BDM. Details below.

  • Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM)
  • Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM)

Subsection 42(9) of the Marriage Act provides that a celebrant may permit an error on the NOIM to be corrected in their presence by either of the parties to the marriage at any time before the marriage has been solemnised. The alteration should be initialled by the party correcting the error and by the celebrant. The corrected NOIM may then be treated as having been given in its corrected form.

An error on the NOIM includes an error in spelling. A change to the address or occupation of one of the parties to the marriage after the date that the NOIM was given to the celebrant does not constitute an error in this context and the address and occupation should remain the same. The address and occupation recorded on the NOIM and those recorded on the marriage certificate are not required to be the same if those details have changed after the date that the NOIM was given.

If an error is discovered on the NOIM after a marriage has been solemnised, the error must NOT be altered or corrected on the NOIM. The celebrant may, however, send a covering note explaining the error when registering the marriage with the relevant BDM.

Marriage Certificates (Not Form 15 Ceremonial)

Sometimes it may be necessary, either before or after the marriage ceremony, to correct errors on the two non-ceremonial official marriage certificate.

  • If the error is discovered after the certificates have been prepared but before the ceremony takes place, the NOIM must first be corrected,
  • the corrections can then made also in the official certificates.

While no corrections should be made by the celebrant after this time, any error should be indicated in pencil on both official copies, and, if necessary, a covering note of explanation sent to relevant state or territory BDM with the registration copy.

Where the registration copy has already been sent to the BDM, the celebrant should bring any errors to the notice of that authority, but should not make corrections to their copy.

Under no circumstances should any words be erased when correcting errors.

When making a correction, the words to be omitted should be lightly ruled through and, if necessary, others inserted. A correction should be initialled in the margin opposite the correction.

  • Ceremonial Certificate; Form 15 Certificate of Marriage

This is the Certificate given to the couple and is an official proof of the marriage having taken place.

Alterations should not be made on this Ceremonial (Form 15) Certificate of Marriage but a new certificate should be prepared instead, before the solemnisation of marriage, incorporating the correct particulars.

A record is then kept of the destruction of the spoilt certificate (subparagraph 73(5)(d) of the Marriage Regulations 2017).)

Where the errors are not discovered until after the ceremony, corrections may be made only whilst the parties and witnesses are still present.

  • the correction should be made on the signed certificate – a new or replacement certificate should not be issued under any circumstances.
  • No corrections should be made to the Form 15 certificate after the ceremony, if the parties and witnesses are no longer present.

How do I fix any errors on a birth, death, or marriage certificate?

If you find an error on a Marriage Certificate I have issued, please contact me immediately.

For all other errors, contact the relevant registry of Births, Death, and Marriages.

You will find links to the State Registries and some International Registry details on my Helpful links page.

You will need to provide proof of your connection and identity, but you will be able to then obtain a corrected birth, death or marriage certificate from the registry in the state in which the event was originally recorded.

For Marriage Registration Certificates, only one can be issued at any given point and so if there is an error, you will have to return the one with the error for a new one to be issued and may need to provide proof of the error e.g. a Birth Certificate with a correct spelling etc..

Death register Applications can be made by:

  • the next of kin listed on the death certificate
  • the informant or person who provided the to the Registry at the time of death
  • a funeral director if the death occurred less than 3 months prior to the application.

However, only the doctor who provided the original information to the Registry or the Coroner can make changes to the details of the cause of death.

You will find links to the State Registries, and some International Registry details on my Helpful links page.

CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE NOT FOUND

When I applied for a copy of my Marriage Certificate from the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages, record of my marriage could not be found and I am unable to locate the Ceremonial Certificate that was signed by us at the wedding and which was given to us by the celebrant after the ceremony, and so does this mean that my first marriage is not valid?

The question implies that all conditions for a legal marriage in Australia were met (NOIM, Celebrant, Marriage solemnised, Certificate issued at ceremony etc..) but that the record of registration of your marriage is missing from the official record.

You are legally married when you exchange Vows.

The signing of documents, which is required, enables registration however on rare occasions, a Celebrant may neglect to register a ceremony or records that have been posted may be lost in the mail, or the BDM might have misplaced the records. It happens, unfortunately.

On the basis of the little information provided, it does appear that you were legally married and that you signed three documents at the Ceremony, and so unless a divorce or annulment has occurred, you are still married.

The first thing you should do is contact the Registry, but it appears you have already done that.

The next thing is to contact your Celebrant who is required to keep a record for 7 years.

The Celebrant should be able to provide you with the unique identification number of your Ceremonial Certificate (the one you were given) and may need to resubmit the registration application.

Section 50 of the Marriage Act requires the celebrant to prepare and sign the following three marriage certificates for each marriage they solemnise:

      1. the official certificate of marriage, which is sent to the relevant BDM for registration purposes
      2. the second official certificate of marriage kept by the celebrant or the church, and
      3. the Form 15 certificate of marriage, which is given to the parties to the marriage

Each of these certificates is regarded as evidence of the marriage.

Subsection 45(3) of the Marriage Act states that a certificate of marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnised in accordance with that section.

 So if you can find your Form 15 certificate of marriage (the ceremonial certificate signed at your wedding), you will have proof of your marriage.

The celebrant is required to forward the Official Certificate Of Marriage (another document signed at the Ceremony), to the BDM in the state or territory where the marriage was solemnised, within 14 days of the ceremony in accordance with Section 50 of the Marriage Act. Along with the certificate, the celebrant should also send”

      • the NOIM,
      • The signed & witnessed Declaration of No Impediment to marriage
      • any order under section 12 of the Marriage Act, and
      • any statutory declarations, consents and dispensations with consents relating to the marriage that are in their possession

The Form 15 or Ceremonial Certificate of marriage, is the certificate the celebrant must issue to the parties. It is not a document of identity, but it is evidence that a couple married and hence that their legal status has changed.

Celebrants must record the number of each Form 15 certificate of marriage issued, on a Record of Use form and detail what has happens to the certificate (used, lost, damaged, destroyed etc) and the date on which that occurred.

Where the registration certificate of marriage (official certificate of marriage) is lost or destroyed, the registering authority may require the celebrant to prepare a certified copy of the second official certificate and send that to the registering authority as per Section 78 of the Marriage Regulations.

If the Form 15 certificate of marriage, (Ceremonial Certificate) is lost or destroyed, it cannot be replaced under any circumstances, but a report of its loss should be submitted to the relevant Registry so as to prevent fraudulent use of the certificate.

Marriages are registered in the state or territory in which they are solemnised, in accordance with the law of that state or territory. Copies of, and extracts from, entries in the register of marriages can be obtained from the registering authority in the state or territory in which the marriage is registered.

It is the responsibility of the celebrant, not the parties to the marriage, to forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage. Under no circumstances should the documents be given to any other person, including either or both of the parties to the marriage, to carry out this obligation. The obligation belongs to the celebrant only.

Serious consequences may arise for the celebrant and the couple if the celebrant does not forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage within the required time. Disciplinary measures, in the form of a caution, being required to undertake professional development, suspension or deregistration, could be taken against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who does not comply with their obligation to register a marriage. A minister of religion of a recognised denomination could be removed from the register of ministers of religion for failing to comply with this obligation as outlined in Section 33 of the Marriage Act.

Under section 48 of the Marriage Act a marriage solemnised otherwise than in accordance with sections 13, 42, 44 or 46 is not a valid marriage.

The loss of records itself does not invalidate a marriage but a marriage may be invalid where:

      • the vows do not comply with section 45 of the Marriage Act, or
      • there is doubt that the marriage ceremony took place.

There are a number of exceptions to section 48. (see Paragraphs 48(2)(a)-(f) of the Marriage Act)

 Section 88D Validity of marriages of the Marriage Act states:

             (1)  Subject to this section, a marriage to which this Part applies shall be recognised in Australia as valid.

             (2)  A marriage to which this Part applies shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) if:

                            (a)   either of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, a party to a marriage with some other person and the last‑mentioned marriage was, at that time, recognised in Australia as valid;

                            (b)   where one of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia—either of the parties was not of marriageable age within the meaning of Part II;

                             (c)   the parties are within a prohibited relationship within the meaning of section 23B; or

                            (d)   the consent of either of the parties was not a real consent for a reason set out in subparagraph 23B(1)(d)(i), (ii) or (iii).

             (3)  Where neither of the parties to a marriage to which this Part applies was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia, the marriage shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while either party is under the age of 16 years.

             (4)  A marriage solemnised in a foreign country, being a marriage to which this Part applies, shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while the marriage is voidable:

                            (a)   except in a case to which paragraph (b) applies—under the local law; or

                            (b)   if the marriage was solemnised in a foreign country by or in the presence of a diplomatic or consular officer of another foreign country—under the law of that other foreign country.

             (5)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this Part, where:

                            (a)   a marriage (in this subsection referred to as the initial marriage) has, whether before or after the commencement of this Part, been solemnised in a foreign country;

                            (b)   at the time of the solemnisation of the initial marriage, that marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid;

                             (c)   after the solemnisation of the initial marriage, and whether before or after the commencement of this Part, either party to that marriage entered into another marriage (in this subsection referred to as the subsequent marriage); and

                            (d)   at the time when the subsequent marriage was solemnised:

                              (i)  the subsequent marriage was recognised in Australia as valid; and

                             (ii)  the initial marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid; the initial marriage shall not be recognised at any time in Australia as valid.

CERTIFICATE OF NO IMPEDIMENT TO MARRIAGE (CNI)

How can I get an authentication, apostille, or Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)?

For up-to-date information, go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website via this external link-How can I get an authentication, apostille or Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)?

You can also download from DFAT, and complete the document legalisation request form.

You then mail your document(s), document legalisation request form and a self-addressed return envelope to us at the postal address on form. If you are applying for a CNI you will also need to send the CNI application form and supporting documents with the document service request form above.

DFAT recommends that you send your document via registered post, include a self-addressed registered post envelope for its safe return and keep a copy of both tracking numbers. DFAT cannot take responsibility for documents lost in the mail.​

Lodging your form via mail

  • Melbourne
  • Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
    GPO Box 2239
    MELBOURNE VIC 3001

 

  • Sydney
  • Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
    GPO Box 2239
    SYDNEY NSW 2001

​Alternatively, legalisation requests can be lodged in person at Australian Passport Offices. Lodgement in person is by appointment only. You can make an appointment by phoning 1300 935 260. You may arrange for someone else to attend on your behalf.

 

What is a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) and do I need one?

A Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) is an official document that proves you are eligible for marriage.

If you are an Australian citizen living in Australia, you would usually only need one if marrying in some countries other than Australia.

The CNI is not usually required in Australia, but couples are required to complete a Declaration Of No Impediment To Marriage. Please note that a CNI is quite different to the Declaration of No Impediment to Marry required for marriage within Australia.

The exception is if you are a foreign citizen and have been married before, and so a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) may be accepted as proof of termination of the previous marriage.

For Australian couples marrying overseas, a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI), may be required by the foreign government and/or local authority.

If you are a foreign national living overseas but wishing to marry in Australia, you may find that you will be required to obtain a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) before you can secure an exit permit or perhaps a Visa, particularly if applying for a Marriage or Fiance’ Visa. Check with the relevant government department in your country of origin.

For those who wish to undertake a legal marriage overseas, it is not within my capacity to conduct a ‘legal’ marriage ceremony other than within Australian borders but  an easy alternative in assisting couples who wish to have an overseas Ceremony, is to provide the couple with a ‘Legals Only Marriage Ceremony’ before their departure and they are then free to undertake a Ceremony (renewal of vows) anywhere overseas unburdened by any further overseas legal processes (because they are already married in Australia). I can conduct that second, non-legal (renewal) Ceremony anywhere in the world.

Couples should check with the relevant Embassy or Consulate to establish if additional Authentication or an Apostille Seal is required beyond the CNI.

If needed, you can download the application from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and complete the document legalisation request form.

For up-to-date information, go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website via this external link-How can I get an authentication, apostille or Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)?

The document legalisation request form can also be downloaded from DFAT.

The couple then mail their document(s), document legalisation request form and a self-addressed return envelope to DFAT at the postal address on form. If applying for a CNI they will also need to send the CNI application form and supporting documents with the document service request form above.

Lodging your form via mail:

  • Melbourne
  • Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
    GPO Box 2239
    MELBOURNE VIC 3001

 

  • Sydney
  • Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
    GPO Box 2239
    SYDNEY NSW 2001

​Alternatively, legalisation requests can be lodged in person at Australian Passport Offices. Lodgement in person is by appointment only. You can make an appointment by phoning 1300 935 260. You may arrange for someone else to attend on your behalf.

What is the difference between a ‘Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage’ and a ‘Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage’?

The simple explanation is that the Declaration is signed by the couple (both parties) intending to marry in Australia and their signatures are witnessed by the Authorised Celebrant who is to solemnise the marriage. That Celebrant will have the prepared form. It is an offence for a party to knowingly give a false declaration and an offence for the solemnisation to take place without the declarations having been signed.

Whereas a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) is an official document issued by a government body either in Australia or overseas, that proves an individual is eligible for marriage.

When would I need a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI)?

If an Australian Resident or Citizen, this question is only relevant if you intend to marry overseas or if you divorced overseas but have no divorce papers but want to marry here in Australia.

If it is your intention to marry overseas, you will need to check the requirements within the chosen country as a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI), may be required by the foreign government if marrying overseas.

If you are a foreign national living overseas but wishing to marry in Australia, you may find that you will be required to obtain a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) before you can secure an exit permit or perhaps a Visa, particularly if applying for a Marriage or Fiance’ Visa. Check with the relevant government department in your country of origin.

You should also check with the relevant Embassy of Consulate to establish if a CNI, or additional Authentication or Apostille Seal is required on your Marruage Certificate.

If needed, you can download the application from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and complete the document legalisation request form.

If marrying in Australia however, a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) is not a requirement unless you are using a CNI to prove a previous marriage had been terminated.

You will however still be required to complete a Declaration Of No Impediment To Marriage, if marrying in Australia.

I am registered as an Authorised Celebrant by the Australian Attorney General to conduct marriage ceremonies within Australian borders so that your marriage can be registered in Australia.

If you would like me to conduct your Ceremony offshore, the best option may be a ‘legals only’ ceremony within Australian borders, and then you will be free to celebrate the occasion with a celebratory ceremony offshore.


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CERTIFICATES – OVERSEAS AUSTRALIAN CITIZENS

How do I get a Marriage Certificate if I am an Australian Citizen, but I live overseas?

Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates can be ordered online from the relevant state registry however Birth, Death and Marriage Registrations for Australian citizens and their children born overseas can be lodged overseas at Australian Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates-General, Consulates, or other Australian or United Kingdom. Missions are controlled by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Requests for information about births, deaths and marriages registered at Australian overseas posts should be directed to:

Department of Immigration and Border Protection
PO Box 25
Belconnen ACT 2616

Tel: (02) 6264 1111

CERTIFICATES COST

How much does the NSW BDM charge for certificates?

The NSW BDM has a scale of fees for different certificates and used to publish those fees only however at the time of writing this page, I could not find the fees on their page

If you find it, please send me the link.

It used to be $60 and was listed here Fees for products and services flyer

Note that the BDM fees do go up each year

CERTIFICATES FROM OVERSEAS

I am an Australian Citizen Or Resident Born Overseas, can I get my birth certificate from an Australian Registry?

Records of births and marriages which took place before a person migrated to Australia are not maintained by the Australian Government.

Where the person has been naturalised such details will usually be found on the application for naturalisation.

I am a Ukranian Refugee and I don’t have a birth certificate or passport as these were taken from me when I left Ukraine as a refugee over 30 years ago and I no longer have my original travel documents issued to me by Australia; only a drivers’ licence, so how do I prove my date of birth and identity?

Your driver’s licence can be used as your proof of identity but not proof of your date and place of birth.

The following documents only are acceptable as evidence of a party’s date and place of birth:

      • an official (original) certificate of birth, or an official extract of an entry in an official register showing the date and place of birth of the party, or
      • a statutory declaration from the party or the party’s parent stating:
      • it is impracticable (this does not mean not practical or convenient; it means impossible) to obtain an official birth certificate or extract, and the reasons why, and
      • to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born, or
      • a passport issued by the Australian government or a government of an overseas country showing the date and place of birth of the party.

I would suggest you contact the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia, as there may now be records available.

Embassy of Ukraine in Australia
Chief: Kulinich Mykola
Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia
Level 12:1/60 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601
GPO Box 1567, Canberra, ACT, 2601.
http://australia.mfa.gov.ua/en
Phone: +61 2 6230 5789
Fax: +61 2 6230 7298
Email: emb_au@mfa.gov.ua

There is also an application form available for download from the Embassy website for persons seeking certificates.

If you are unable to obtain a birth certificate, you will need to include the evidence of your efforts in preparing a Statutory Declaration to attest to your identity and why you are unable to obtain record of your date and place of birth. You will also need to submit a Statutory Declaration from a parent.

Here is an extract from the Guidelines for Marriage Celebrants referring to Statutory Declarations in these circumstances.:

CHUPPAH

What is a chuppah?

A chuppah is a type of wedding canopy that holds specific significance in Jewish culture.

According to Jewish custom, four attendants hold or stand by the poles and a prayer shawl is draped over the top to represent the home the couple will share together.

If you are not Jewish, you might consider a canopy or arch instead, either of which can be creatively and beautifully decorated


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CHILDREN

How can I include children in my Ceremony?

There are many ways children can be included in your Ceremony.

You will find this same, or an updated version, of this information in Wedding Ideas on my web page, or click the link to go directly to the section on Children

For your own children in particular, including them in the ceremony can remove anxiety about the marriage, as they are of course, a very important part of your marriage and of the ‘new’ family it creates, so it is always preferable to include them in some way in the ceremony.

This is particularly important for teenage children.

Inclusion can be as simple as mentioning their names during key parts of the ceremony such as the vows, or including them in a unifying ritual.

The Celebrant can mention and introduce them.

Depending on ages and ability of a child, you can assign set tasks and responsibilities such as:

    • Bridal escort
    • Junior Bridesmaid/Groomsman
    • Page boy
    • Flower girl/boy
    • Ring bearer/s
    • Ushers
    • Bouquet holder
    • Announcer
    • Reader
    • Welcomer
    • and lots more….

It is really up to the imagination, but many choose  ‘unity’ rituals that create inclusiveness. Follow the links to find out more.

If you are choosing to take on a new name, you may even wish to include a Naming Ceremony for your children (though an official Change of Name, would still have to be lodged with the Registry of Births Deaths and marriages – for more information on changing names, see

You might enjoy this video

CHURCH WEDDING

What is the difference between a Church/Religious Wedding Ceremony & Civil Wedding Ceremony?

I am sometimes asked about the difference between a religious Marriage ceremony and a Civil Marriage Ceremony, but the obvious question is which religion?

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) there are 33000+ total “Christian” denominations alone.

The main difference is that a Church wedding is a religious service with the entire wedding being a part of a ‘sacrament’, and so each portion must be prayer or scripture, conducted by a member of the Clergy within a specific state in which the marriage takes place, while a civil ceremony is conducted by a nationally registered Marriage Celebrant so a Civil Ceremony can take place anywhere in Australia, anytime, anyway, and with almost any content, religious or not, provided there is compliance with the Marriage Act; and whilst the Minister may ask the couple questions in place of their Vows, in a Civil Ceremony, the couple say their vows to each other.

Church wedding

In a Church wedding, the couple faces the altar and clergy member as it is about your joining in prayer as part of a Sacrament inside a Church (place of worship) and as part of a church community where the couple/marriage receives a holy blessing upon the union in the presence of the congregation which you are joining as a couple/family and so the ceremony follows church doctrine, often limiting what can be done & said so as not to contradict or impinge upon religious context and of course, the congregation should be present in addition to your guests who may not be members of that congregation. If you are devoutly religious, attend a particular church, wish to raise your children in that religion/church, and want them to attend a religious school, then maybe consider a church wedding however if you are not intending to attend that church apart from your wedding, you should consider a Civil Ceremony.

Some Clergy will insist that your ceremony can only take place inside their own Church building because that is all their registration allows. They may require you to attend Marriage Preparation courses or even produce a ‘Certificate of Virginity’ (it is a real thing) while some Ministers will only marry you if you are already a member and regular attendee of their church.

If you are of different religions, some churches may also require a ‘conversion’, i.e. joining of that faith which may also include religious classes over a period of time and maybe a Bapstism.

Civil Ceremony

A Civil Ceremony has almost no restriction as long as no laws are broken.

It is entirely about your marriage and your choices.

A Civil Ceremony can be written especially for you and almost anything goes as long as the Monitum and Legal Vows are said, and the Marriage Celebrant is authorised. A Civil Ceremony can even include religious context if you want, and/or religious content, or no religious content whatsoever. It is your choice, just as long as nothing is said or done, that contradicts the Legal Vows, Marriage Law, or any other laws.

  • The couple usually faces each other or the invited guests, but that is a choice.
  • You are required to have 2 witnesses for the signing of your Certificates but can have as many or as few guests as you like. If you want more witnesses, I can make up a non-legal Certificate for others to sign as well.
  • No classes are required of any kind, but whether a Civil or Religious Ceremony, you will still be given a government-issued pamphlet to inform/remind you of what it means to be married.

Here is my ‘generalised’ ready reckoner listing my interpretation of differences but if you have any questions or disagree with me on any point, let me know.

Item

Civil Ceremony

Church Ceremony

Requires one month’s notice under the law Yes Yes
You must provide proof of identity as well date/place of birth Yes Yes
You will be given a pamphlet to inform/remind you of what it means to be married. Yes Yes
Only 2 witnesses aged over 18 required Yes Yes
The Ceremony Is designed/written especially for you Yes No
Is entirely about your marriage Yes No
Can take place anywhere within Australia Yes No
Can take place anytime Yes No
Both parties must be baptised into the church No Maybe
Bride must produce a ‘Certificate of Virginity’ No Maybe
By choice, the couple usually faces each other or the invited guests. Yes No
Can have almost any content, completely non-religious, religious, agnostic, pagan, or just be limited to basic legal words, Yes No
Can have lots of friends of any denomination as guests. Yes Limited
Can include a variety of rituals from different cultures or religions Yes No
Can marry if divorced Yes Maybe
Can marry regardless of age (but over 18), sex or sexual orientation, gender, religious belief, culture, race etc, Yes Maybe
Can only take place within Church at which the Celebrant is registered. No Yes
Can only take place within the locality or state in which the Celebrant is registered. No Yes
Can take place anywhere within Australia Yes No
Children of the marriage to be baptised into the church No Maybe
Couples and guests must join in prayer Your Choice Yes
Couples face the altar/front Your Choice Yes
Family blessing Your Choice Maybe by Choice
Follows a church doctrine No Yes
Gender is irrelevant to legal marriage Yes No
Has almost no restrictions as long as laws are not broken Yes No
Held at any venue/location of your choice such as in a garden, hall, restaurant, backyard, loungeroom etc.. Yes Limited
Holy blessing Your Choice Yes
Is a specifically a religious service/Sacrament No Yes
Is conducted by a Minster of Religion (Clergy member) No Yes
LGBTQI friendly Yes Probably No
Must attend Marriage Preparation courses. No Yes
Must attend religious service and/or classes No Yes
Must attend religious service prior to the marriage No Usually
Must be of the same religious faith No Usually
Must take place inside their Church building No Yes
One or both in the couple must join the religion or Church No Yes
Requires your children to join a particular religion No Yes
Restricts what you can wear No Yes
Should include members of the religious congregation Your Choice Yes
Will have no religious content at all whatsoever. Your Choice No
Will include religious context or content Your Choice Yes
Will include the reading of non-religious text Your Choice Maybe
Will include the reading of religious or Biblical text Your Choice Yes
Will not contradict or impinge upon religious context Your Choice Yes
Will permit marriage if you are LGBTQI Yes No
Will permit marriage if you are of the same sex /gender Yes Probably No
Will permit marriage if you are unable to have children Yes Maybe
You announce your vows by questions and answer only No Yes
You must ‘say’ your Vows to each other Yes No
You must be Baptised into the church (or similar ritual) No Yes
You must renounce any other faith No Maybe

COLDS  & FLU & COVID

If have a cold/flu, or Covid how can I get through the ceremony?

If you tested positive for Covid, the ceremony would have to be postponed until it is safe and probably illegal to continue.

.See your doctor for advice and get tested to ensure it is not Covid-19

if it is a common cold or flu, follow safety protocol to avoid passing it onto to others, however, my tactic is:

    • Exercise the day before
    • 1 or 2 cold & flu tabs before bed
    • Loads of sleep the day/night before
    • 1 or 2 cold & flu tabs about 4 hours before event & again @ 15 minutes before
    • an antihistamine (I prefer Clarintyne) but be careful about mixing with other medications and have NO alcohol
    • ibuprofen and/or paracetamol 1 hour before but don’t overdose
    • Sanitise hands at every opportunity
    • Arrive early to allow for a rest before the event
    • Lots of fluids (but take a bathroom break just before event),
    • a dab of Vicks just inside the nostrils (check in mirror to make sure it doesn’t show, and be careful or any reactions)
    • a mint lolly, Listermint, Anticol, or similar  just before to clear the nasal passage
    • loads of antiseptic hand wash to prevent transfer of any virus/germs
    • have tissues and/or hanky at the ready & cough only into the elbow or into a handkerchief
    • have an exit plan to rest immediately afterwards
    • lots of fluids to clear chemicals from your kidneys
    • wear a mask if you cannot socially distance

 

COLOURS

Can I wear my Club colours for my Wedding Ceremony?

Of course.

The choice of clothing, garments, emblems, or even no clothing at all, is entirely yours.

Just as long there is nothing that contradicts the Marriage Act or your vows i.e. don’t wear a badge that denigrates or objects to marriage or marriage law, reads something like ‘I don’t believe in marriage’.

What do particular Colours signify?

Colour features in nature, culture, religion, rituals, and traditions back to the dawn of man.
See the list attached.

COMMISSIONS

Do you pay any secret commissions to vendors, or do they pay you a secret commission?

The short answer is absolutely NO.

I do not pay or receive, any secret commissions whatsoever.

I may, however, under particular ethical conditions, pay a referral or advertising fee to a listing agency or directory service, or even reward a loyal client with a ‘bonus’ for a recommendation that results in a booking.

I might even send a gift in gratitude to a vendor who has been of particular assistance, and occasionally a vendor may, out of their generosity, send me an unsolicited gift of sort, but there is nothing secret at all about my dealing.

Be confident that if I recommend anyone, it is because my experiences and that of my past clients has been very positive, and I always offer alternatives for comparison if one or more is/are available.

You will find a FREE directory of helpful people on my webpage.

No one has paid to be in that directory. It is free and purely to assist clients.

The listing in my directory may result in cross or reciprocal referrals, but not in any secret commissions.

Finally, I am going to quote the law here simply because  I am strongly in favour of legal & ethical conduct:

In NSW, Part 4A of the NSW Crimes Act 1900 prohibits the following conduct:

        • Receiving or soliciting, as an agent, an inducement or reward for doing or not doing something in relation to the affairs of their principal.
        • Corruptly giving or offering an agent an inducement or reward for doing or not doing something in relation to the affairs of the agent’s principal.
        • Use of misleading documents or statements by agents with the intent of defrauding their principals.
        • Corrupt inducements to a person for giving advice to a third party which induces them to enter into a contract or appoint the person who gives the inducement to any office.
        • Penalties for infringement include fines as well as imprisonment for up to 7 years for individuals that are involved.

COMPLAINTS

How do I make a complaint against a Marriage or Funeral Celebrant?

The first step is of course to talk to the Celebrant concerned.

You may find that the issue can be quickly and easily resolved.

If it is not resolved and you wish to make a formal complaint, there are different processes for Celebrants who are Ministers Of Religion, Funeral Celebrants, and those who are Commonwealth-Registered Marriage Celebrants.

It is highly unlikely that you would have a complaint about my service or a Ceremony I have performed, but if you do, the first step is of course to talk to me as I am certain we can resolve any concerns. If you are then still not satisfied, put your complaint to me in writing so that there is a record and clarity, and I will again do my best to find a satisfactory solution.

If all efforts have still left you unsatisfied and you would like to take it further please see the recommendations below from the office of the Attorney General but only if it is in regard to a marriage ceremony. You can go to the Attorney-General’s Department Website here.  Note that the Attorney-General’s Department only deals with complaints relating to Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants, including religious marriage celebrants. These complaints are considered by the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants, an officer in that department.

Minister Of Religion
If you want to make a complaint in regards to a marriage ceremony conducted by a minister of religion for a recognised denomination, you will need to write to the registry of births, deaths and marriages in your state or territory.

You may also seek to complain to the ministers’ church or to his/her diocese.

Commonwealth-Registered Marriage Celebrant

If you want to make a complaint about a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant, including myself, you should consider:

  • whether you can settle the matter directly with the celebrant
  • that the Attorney General does not have the power to make a celebrant refund money
  • that your complaint may be refused if it is not made within three months of you becoming aware of the subject matter of your complaint. You can email the department of the Attorney General at marriagecelebrantssection@ag.gov.au to request more time.

Further information is detailed in the following fact sheet:

  • Complaint’s process – Solemnisation Of A Marriage

Complaints about the solemnisation of a marriage by a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant must be made using the following form:

If your complaint is not about the solemnisation of a marriage, you may submit a complaint using the Attorney-General’s Department online enquiry form available from the Marriage page

If you require assistance with preparing your complaint, email the Attorney-General’s Department at marriagecelebrantssection@ag.gov.au or contact the office by phone.
Once the department receives your complaint form, they will make a preliminary assessment of your complaint and send it to you and to the celebrant offering an opportunity to comment.
The comments may include any additional information, including photographs or signed witness statements. The department will consider comments provided by you and the celebrant before making a final determination.
You and the celebrant will be advised of the outcome, which may include imposing a disciplinary measure, or taking no action.
Information the department holds about your complaint may be subject to a freedom of information request. This means the information you provide to the department may be released to the public. More information is available on the Freedom of information page.

Funeral Celebrants

There is no government body that registers or specifically monitors Funeral Celebrants, however, the NSW Fair Trading department has some tips and sample letters to help you take the first step.

  1. Contact the Celebrant in the first instance and explain the problem.
  2. If a Funeral Director booked the Celebrant for you, talk to the Funeral Director.
  3. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the Celebrant, check if they are a member of a professional association like the Funeral Celebrants Association of Australia, Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants. Professional associations like these may operate a code of conduct and have a complaint handling process to help you.
  4. If the funeral celebrant is not a member of a professional association or you are unhappy with the response, you can contact NSW Fair Trading for help on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online to NSW Fair Trading.

CONJUGAL STATUS

Who has the responsibility to satisfy the authorised celebrant that that a couple are free to marry?

We find the answer in the Guidelines for Marriage celebrants.

4.11       ESTABLISHING THE CONJUGAL STATUS OF THE PARTIES TO THE MARRIAGE – ITEMS 7 AND 19 OF THE NOIM

It is the responsibility of each party to a marriage to satisfy the celebrant that they are free to marry.

If a celebrant is not satisfied that this is the case, they should advise the party to seek legal advice as to the validity of the end of any previous marriage and refuse to solemnise the marriage.

Item 7 of the NOIM requires each party to state their conjugal status.

The options are:

  • widowed
  • divorced, or
  • never validly married.

Parties to a marriage should record the conjugal status that reflects their status on the day they give the NOIM to an authorised celebrant.

In circumstances in which a party has never been married or has had their marriage declared invalid or void by a court (by a decree of nullity, or an annulment), their conjugal status is ‘never validly married’.

Some countries (such as the Philippines) do not recognise divorce and the order ending the marriage is an annulment. In such a case the person’s conjugal status is ‘never validly married’.

The terms ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’ are not to be used.

If a party has previously been married, Item 19 of the NOIM requires the party to state how their last marriage was terminated. The options that may be listed in item 19 of the NOIM are:

  • death
  • divorce, or
  • nullity

Evidence of the termination of a previous marriage must be produced to the celebrant prior to the marriage being solemnised.

COSTS

How much does the NSW BDM charge for marriage certificates?

If you don’t want me to apply for you, you can apply direct a BDM, online.

They used to publish their fees online, but it is now very hard to find.

Try this link : Fees for products and services flyer

What do you charge?

Your investment in having me assist is all on my web page under INVESTMENT (FEES)

What is the cancellation / refund policy?

Details are on my website and in your contract.

What is the payment / deposit policy?

Details are on my website and in your contract.

What kinds of payment do you accept?

Details are on my website and in your contract.

CRIME

Do I break any laws if I am not truthful when getting married?

Relationships are based on trust, so it is always best to be truthful if you want your marriage to succeed, but as for the law, to answer your question, let’s look at the offences :

Section 94 (bigamy) – it is an offence for a person to marry a person while still married to some other person.

The penalty for contravention of section 94 is imprisonment for five years.
Subsection 95(1) – provides that it is an offence to go through a form or ceremony of marriage with a person who is not of marriageable age (unless all requirements concerning consents and judicial order are met).
The penalty for contravention of subsection 95(1) is imprisonment for five years.

Subsection 95(2) – provides that it is an offence to go through a form or ceremony of marriage with a person who is a minor (that is, a person aged under 18) without the minor first obtaining consent to marry from their parents (or other prescribed person). The requirement for consent does not apply if the minor has previously been married.
The penalty for contravention of subsection 95(2) is imprisonment for six months.

Section 103 – provides that it is an offence for a person to go through a form or ceremony of marriage with another person knowing that the person solemnising the marriage is not authorised to do so, and having reason to believe that the other party to the marriage believes the person solemnising the marriage is authorised.
The penalty for contravention of section 103 is five penalty units or imprisonment for six months.

Section 104 – provides that it is an offence for a person to give a NOIM under section 42 or the declaration required under section 42 or sign such notices after they have been given if, to the knowledge of that person, the notice contains a false statement or error or is defective. The penalty for contravention of section 104 is five penalty units or imprisonment for six months.

It is also important to note that a person who intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence against the Statutory Declarations Act and is liable to four years imprisonment.

CRUISE SHIP WEDDING

Can the Captain conduct the ceremony, like you see in the movies?

Not usually, but possible under particular circumstances.

For the Ceremony to be registered, it must be conducted by a registered or licensed Celebrant and within the territorial waters (usually a port) of the country in which the Celebrant is registered/licensed and so most ceremonies occur at a port so that the ceremony can be registered in the state in which the port is located and so if you wanted to marry on a ship departing from Sydney, the ceremony would usually take place while the ship is docked and before other passengers board.

There is however one cruise line that has ships registered in Bermuda that has advertised that for a fee of over $2000, the Captain can conduct a ceremony in international waters provided the ship is registered in Bermuda and that the captain is licensed as a celebrant in Bermuda. The recognition of such a marriage in Australia, is yet to be tested.

For all other ships, you will find that the Captain has to have registered as a Celebrant for a particular country and so the Ceremony must still be conducted at a port within the territorial waters of that country of registration/licensing of the Celebrant though but of course the captain might not have the time to register the marriage though most countries require an official registration in a very short period after the ceremony for it to be recognised.

In all circumstances where a qualified and authorised celebrant conduct a ceremony, the Captain could participate in the Ceremony provided the registered Celebrant conducts the legal aspects.

Can a Cruise Ship wedding be done and what is involved?

A Cruise Ship can be a great honeymoon but can also be the location of your wedding.

In Sydney, some couples like to marry in the Royal Botanical Gardens and then walk down to Circular Quay to board their cruise ship, but others like to marry on-board.

The ship MUST be within Australian waters for the on-board marriage to be valid and all couples still have to comply with Australian laws of course.

Weddings aboard a cruise ship usually take place while the ship is docked, and this can be arranged through the cruise lines wedding planner and land planner. As long as the boat is docked, then that’s the state where the marriage is registered e.g. ‘Onboard   Cruise Ship Named, Darling Harbour Wharf, Sydney.

Here is a typical schedule:

10:45am Couple and guests arrive at wharf
11:00am Begin priority cruise check-in
11:15am Ceremonies at Sea coordinator meet the wedding party, then escorts the party onboard, and the bride to her room:
12:15pm Celebrant arrives at wharf with passport and is escorted to the ceremony venue
12:45pm Groom and wedding guests meet in reception & are escorted to the Chapel
1:00pm Ceremonies at Sea coordinator escorts bride to ceremony venue
1:15pm Ceremony begins
1:45pm Celebration toast and cake cutting
2:00pm Party to commence photo session and celebrant disembarks
3:00pm Wedding party return to their rooms to collect life jackets for compulsory guest drill
4:30pm Celebrations continue at your leisure

Though not common because some Cruise lines do not allow it, the marriage can take place while out to sea provided the ship is still within Australian waters at the time of the ceremony and the Celebrant is a ticket holding passenger. The marriage is then registered as being:

‘Onboard – Cruise Ship Name, ‘coordinates’.

The Celebrant will require certain information including a room number, dock address and ship name for all documents and of course will probably already have your passport number from the NOIM.

When the ship is docked, the couple, guests and the Celebrant should be at the ship early.

A current and valid Passport will be required, as there is a customs and security check before boarding.

The Celebrant is issued with a boarding pass that must be used when accessing and departing the ship even though the Celebrant will be escorted at all times and must leave the ship immediately upon completion of the ceremony.

Some important conditions imposed by the cruise line:

    • only passengers on the cruise ship can be guests at the wedding. Friends and relatives who are not ticket holders will not be permitted on-board.
    • You probably won’t be allowed to bring your own photographer as usually only the ship’s photographer will be allowed but it does mean you get to see your photographs while on the ship and should have all of them by the time you disembark
    • So that your friends and family can join you on your special day, cruise ships will offer a discounted rate for group bookings, usually for 16 or more guests attending your celebration and travelling on the cruise.
    • Ships usually do have a Wedding Coordinator to be the point of contact for your special occasion.
    • Flowers and Cakes can be arranged through the ship. You may not be able to bring your own and due to quarantine regulations, cannot be taken off the ship.
    • some ships don’t allow you to bring alcohol on board, or at least at the point of first boarding
    • you cannot take hair dryers, hair straighteners, irons etc on board but you will find a hair dryer in your room
  • Note : if the marriage takes place in international water, the marriage is not usually valid (recognised at law) as it cannot be registered in any specific country. The Captain, usually for hefty fee, will conduct a Commitment Ceremony when in international waters but contrary to what is in the movies, it is not usually legally binding. The exception is where the Captain is also an authorised or licensed Marriage Celebrant and the country in which he/she is registered has a specific law allowing marriage onboard a ship that is registered to that country. Usually the marriage would take place within that countries territorial waters but there are exceptions:
    • Since 2018, Japanese ships’ captains were authorised under Japanese law to perform marriage ceremonies, but only for those with Japanese passports.
    • It is also possible to get married at sea on a few of the Princess Line ships including the Gold PrincessGrand Princess and Star Princess which are registered in Bermuda, and when the captains have Bermuda licenses to perform marriages, but only while the ships are in international waters however those ships don’t sail to Australia

DATE

How far in advance do we have to book you as our Celebrant?

The NOIM must be lodged no more than 18 months before the ceremony and no less than one month before (unless there is a Shortening of Time) however the actual wedding date can be booked at any time, though in practicality, the earlier the better to ensure that your chosen date is available since many book, one or more years in advance.

In early 2018, I received a booking for early 2020.

How long before my wedding will I need to book a venue?

There are so many variables. If it is a popular, commercial wedding venue it is not uncommon to book 12-18 months in advance, unless there is a cancellation.

Depending on the size of your party, many venues can hold more than one function at a time.

If it is a park, beach, community hall or club, you may be able to book in only weeks or a few months in advance.

Spring tends to be the busiest time, followed by Autumn and Summer and finally Winter and so if you want a Winter wedding, you will have more options and maybe even a lower price.

What dates and times are available?

You will need to call me to find out. My diary can fill quickly and some book two years in advance, however but there are almost always gaps.

I work full time as a Celebrant and so am available up to 7 days per week for ceremonies, excluding Christmas Day and Easter Friday/Sunday.

(Extra fees do of course apply for Public Holidays.)

I don’t generally book more than one ceremony on a single day as I prefer to offer my full attention without distraction.

A marriage occurring in Australia may be solemnised on any day, at any time, and at any place. The marriage must be registered in the State or Territory where the marriage was solemnised.

To meet this requirement, and possible requirements of other countries for recognition of the marriage, marriages in aircraft and ships at sea should be avoided but of course, wedding on docked ships are common.

Why do I have to wait a month?

Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires the parties to an intended marriage to give the authorised celebrant at least one month’s written notice prior to the solemnisation of the marriage. This notice is known as the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM).

DEAF or HEARING IMPAIRED

I am deaf, and I am told we will need an interpreter for our  wedding so where do I find one ad how much will it cost?

The Deaf Society has a list of interpreters available on their website.

Often for weddings, or other celebrations, deaf people pay for the interpreter/captions through their NDIS package, and they can book this online through the deaf society web-app for NDIS users. Or if they do not have NDIS, interpreters usually do this work pro-bono through ASLIA (the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association) as many interpreters give back to the community in this way.

You will find more information on their website – Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association

I am deaf, can I say my vows in Auslan?

The Guidelines to the marriage says that if a party to a marriage communicates in a sign language, such as Auslan, they may say their vows using that sign language. See below:

5.9 INTERPRETERS

Section 112 of the Marriage Act provides that where an authorised celebrant considers it desirable to do so, they may use the services of an interpreter in, or in connection with, a marriage ceremony. It is prudent for an authorised celebrant to use the services of an interpreter when any one person among the authorised celebrant, parties or witnesses do not understand the language in which the marriage ceremony will be conducted. This includes ceremonies conducted in a sign language, such as Auslan.

The interpreter must be a person other than a party to the marriage, and they must be able to meet the requirements set out in section 112 of the Marriage Act. It is the authorised celebrant’s responsibility to decide whether an interpreter is necessary.

Subsection 112(2) of the Marriage Act states that the authorised celebrant must not solemnise a marriage at which the services of an interpreter are to be used unless the authorised celebrant has received a statutory declaration by the interpreter stating that he or she understands, and is able to converse in, the language/s required.

Immediately after the ceremony the interpreter must give the authorised celebrant a certificate of the faithful performance of his or her services as interpreter. The certificate must be in the approved form.48 The approved form for the certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter (formerly called the Form 24) is available on the department’s website.

The authorised celebrant must forward the statutory declaration and certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter to the appropriate registering authority with the registration copy of the marriage certificate.

My witness is deaf, so do we need an interpreter for the wedding?

The short answer is yes.

Under section 44 of the Marriage Act, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years. These are the persons who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.

The object of requiring the attendance of witnesses is that their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or to testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed. The witness cannot perform this function if they cannot understand the Ceremony.

It is therefore desirable that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage. Arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage. The authorised celebrant is not responsible for providing witnesses.

DEATH OF PREVIOUS SPOUSE

What evidence must I produce if my previous marriage ended in my partner’s death?

Firstly, if you have been married more than once, you only need evidence of the end of the most recent marriage to prove eligibility for a new marriage, which is quite separate to providing a paper trail for name changes and proving identity.

To answer this question, I refer directly from the Guidelines for Marriage Celebrants: 4.5.1 Evidence Of Death Of Former Spouse

Evidence

In the case of a party whose last marriage ended with the death of their spouse, couples must be advised the marriage cannot take place until evidence of the death has been provided.

The evidence of the termination of that marriage will be the spouse’s original death certificate.

Died In Australia

If the party wishing to marry does not have the death certificate, and their spouse died in Australia, the party should be able to obtain the death certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM) in the State or Territory where their spouse died.

Spouse Died Overseas

If a party’s former spouse died overseas, the authorised celebrant should still sight an original death certificate.

If an original death certificate is not available the authorised celebrant should contact the Attorney General’s Department for guidance.

Death Certificate In Another Language

If the party gives the authorised celebrant a death certificate in a language other than English, they also need to provide a translation of the death certificate by a NAATI accredited translator (see Part 4.10 of these Guidelines).

A translation by the party, a relative or a friend is not sufficient.

Uncertainty of the identity

If an authorised celebrant is not certain of the identity of a deceased person, they should insist on the production of a certificate that shows particulars of the previous marriage to the now deceased person, as well as evidence of the person’s death.

Statutory Declarations

Statutory declarations are not acceptable evidence of the death of a person’s former spouse.

DECEASED PARENT

When we signed the NOIM, both of my parents were alive, but one of my parents has since died and our wedding has not yet occurred. Do we have to change/update the information on the NOIM ?

Firstly, given the circumstances, you may wish to include a memorial ritual or activity, into your Ceremony, to honour and to recognise the absence of a loved one.

See  Remembering.  

The answer to the question though is Yes but only if your NOIM was completed before 1st September 2021 when the NOIM was changed and no longer requires the life status of parents as that question was removed from the form in the update.

An update to the old form only is required prior to the Ceremony.

As the NOIM is an approved form or questions must be answered on the form must be answered

The Code of Practice for Celebrants requires accuracy in the preparation of marriage paperwork and a failure to update the NOIM as appropriate may result in disciplinary action against the Celebrant, and cause delay in the registration of the marriage.

DECORATIONS

What elements will make the biggest impact on ambience?

Flowers, greenery, an arch, ‘chuppah’, canopy, curtains, red carpet and lighting always add mood.

The soft light Candles can be magical but only at night when additional spotlight or reading lights might be needed.

Depending on your budget, you might like customised signage.

If the wedding is large, add some attractive seating but if it is intimate, seating might create a barrier.

You can find suppliers on my Helpful links page.

DISCOUNT

Is there a discount for booking an off-season date or an off-peak time?

No. I don’t experience a particular season as such and so there is no ‘off-season’.

Check my web page and your contract, for pricing.


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DIVORCE &/OR DEATH ENDING A MARRIAGE

Can I divorce in Australia if married overseas?

Proper legal advice should always be obtained however my understanding is that you may make an application for divorce in Australia if you or your spouse is:

(a)    an Australian Citizen;
(b)    “domiciled*” in; and
(c)     an ordinary resident of Australia and has lived in Australia for the last 12 months.

*“domiciled” means that you or your spouse regard Australia to be your home country.

A marriage certificate issued by an authorised body of an overseas country is evidence of marriage.  An “authorised body” of an overseas country is an organisation that is authorised to perform marriages within that country for example, churches or other religious organisations.  You must provide a copy of your marriage certificate with your application for divorce.  If your marriage certificate is issued in a language other than English, you must provide an English translation of your marriage certificate.

In some (unusual) cases there may be two Courts, for example, the Family Court in Australia and a Family Court in another country that would have a right to determine the issue and annul a marriage.  However, there can be in those circumstances a question as to which of the two countries has the superior right to deal with the divorce.  In certain circumstances, there are different consequences in relation to the issues that arise in property, spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody depending on which country has the superior right and determines the matters on the breakdown of a marriage.

Can I lodge a NOIM if my divorce is not yet finalised?

A NOIM can be received by an authorised celebrant even though a party is, or both parties are, still married to another person at the date of receipt of the NOIM. In such cases it is sufficient that the married party or parties note when filling in the NOIM that they are still married, that a divorce order is being sought and the date upon which the divorce is expected to be finalised.

However, the marriage cannot be solemnised unless evidence of the divorce is given to the authorised celebrant prior to the solemnisation of the marriage.

If you are in NSW, you can apply for a copy of your divorce record online at https://eservices.comcourts.gov.au/epod_applications/new

How do I get a copy of a Decree Absolute or Final Order from the UK?

Getting a copy of a decree absolute or final order depends on the information you have about the divorce, dissolution or annulment.

    1. If you know the case number and the court, it costs about £10. You just Send an email or letter to the court and include:
        • your name and address
        • the case numbers
        • how you want to pay
    2. If you do not know the case number but know which court issued the decree absolute or final order, you can ask them to search their records. It costs about £45 to search a 10-year period.
    3. If however, you do not know which court to ask, you can ask the Central Family Court to search for the decree absolute or final order. To do that you must complete a form D440 and send it to the address on the form. It costs £65 for each 10-year period that’s searched.

For more information, go to https://www.gov.uk/copy-decree-absolute-final-order

How do I prove I am divorced?

You need to provide documentary evidence obtainable from the court where you were divorced.

If the divorce was granted outside of Australia you will need to contact the relevant court or authority in the country where the divorce was granted.

In Australia, the proof of divorce process allows you to request a search of the records of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Where a divorce can be proven, you will be provided with an official document that serves as proof that a divorce was granted and finalised.

If the divorce was granted in Western Australia you will need to contact the Family Court of Western Australia  to obtain proof of divorce.

If the divorce was granted prior to 1976 in Australia, you will need to contact the Supreme Court in the state or territory where the divorce was granted. The current family law system was established in 1975 and prior to this supreme courts administered applications for and the granting of divorce.

If your divorce was finalised prior to 13 February 2010 or you were not a party to the divorce you should complete the online form and you may be charged a fee of around $30 -$46

If your divorce was finalised after 12 February 2010 and you were a party to the proceedings you can obtain your divorce record from the Commonwealth Courts Portal at no cost.

You can access specific information on the process at this link  Comcourt applications

Simply Apply online

If you are unsure of any of the questions in the application form, you can email enquiries@fcfcoa.gov.au

 

I married in my country of birth but my partner disappeared and after some years, was declared dead and a death certificate was issued but I have recently discovered that he may still be alive & remarried in yet another country. Can I get married in Australia where I now live?

If previously married, you must provide evidence of the termination of your previous marriage in order to be married in Australia and if you have his Death Certificate, it would seem to satisfy that criteria however there may be complications should that Death Certificate be revoked and so I recommend you seek legal advice.

For the moment, as your partner was declared dead, the death certificate should suffice but to avoid complication, I suggest inform authorities of your discovery, and I recommend you obtain a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) from your original country’s embassy

In order to be divorced, I have to prove that I was married but when I applied for a copy of my Marriage Certificate from the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages, record of my marriage could not be found and I am unable to locate the Ceremonial Certificate that was signed by us at the wedding and which was given to us after the ceremony, and so does this mean that my first marriage is not valid?

The question implies that all conditions for a legal marriage in Australia were met but that the record of registration of your marriage is missing from the official record.

On that basis, it does appear that you are currently legally married and hence cannot marry anyone else at this time but that the marriage records must be found so that the marriage can be registered.

The first thing you should do is contact the Registry, but it appears you have already done that.

The next thing is to contact your Celebrant who is required to keep a record for 7 years.

The Celebrant should be able to provide you with the unique identification number of your Ceremonial Certificate (the one you were given) may need to resubmit the registration application.

Section 50 of the Marriage Act requires the celebrant to prepare and sign the following three marriage certificates for each marriage they solemnise:

      1. the official certificate of marriage, which is sent to the relevant BDM for registration purposes
      2. the second official certificate of marriage kept by the celebrant or the church, and
      3. the Form 15 certificate of marriage, which is given to the parties to the marriage

 Each of these certificates is regarded as evidence of the marriage.

Subsection 45(3) of the Marriage Act states that a certificate of marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnised in accordance with that section.

So if you can find your Form 15 certificate of marriage (the ceremonial certificate signed at your wedding), you will have proof of your marriage.

The celebrant is required to forward the Official Certificate Of Marriage to the BDM in the state or territory where the marriage was solemnised, within 14 days of the ceremony in accordance with Section 50 of the Marriage Act. Along with the certificate, the celebrant should also send”

      • the NOIM,
      • The signed & witnessed Declaration of No Impediment to marriage
      • any order under section 12 of the Marriage Act, and
      • any statutory declarations, consents and dispensations with consents relating to the marriage that are in their possession

The Form 15 or Ceremonial Certificate of marriage, is the certificate the celebrant must issue to the parties. It is not a document of identity, but it is evidence that a couple married and hence that their legal status has changed.

Celebrants must record the number of each Form 15 certificate of marriage issued, on a  Record of Use form and detail what has happens to the certificate (used, lost, damaged, destroyed etc) and the date on which that occurred.

Where the registration certificate of marriage (official certificate of marriage) is lost or destroyed, the registering authority may require the celebrant to prepare a certified copy of the second official certificate and send that to the registering authority as per Section 78 of the Marriage Regulations. 

If the Form 15 certificate of marriage, (Ceremonial Certificate) is lost or destroyed, it cannot be replaced under any circumstances, but a report of its loss should be submitted to the relevant Registry so as to prevent fraudulent use of the certificate.

Marriages are registered in the state or territory in which they are solemnised, in accordance with the law of that state or territory. Copies of, and extracts from, entries in the register of marriages can be obtained from the registering authority in the state or territory in which the marriage is registered.

It is the responsibility of the celebrant, not the parties to the marriage, to forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage. Under no circumstances should the documents be given to any other person, including either or both of the parties to the marriage, to carry out this obligation. The obligation belongs to the celebrant only.

Serious consequences may arise for the celebrant and the couple if the celebrant does not forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage within the required time. Disciplinary measures, in the form of a caution, being required to undertake professional development, suspension or deregistration, could be taken against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who does not comply with their obligation to register a marriage. A minister of religion of a recognised denomination could be removed from the register of ministers of religion for failing to comply with this obligation as outlined in Section 33 of the Marriage Act.

Under section 48 of the Marriage Act a marriage solemnised otherwise than in accordance with sections 13, 42, 44 or 46 is not a valid marriage.

The loss of records itself does not invalidate a marriage but a marriage may be invalid where:

      • the vows do not comply with section 45 of the Marriage Act, or
      • there is doubt that the marriage ceremony took place.

There are a number of exceptions to section 48. (see Paragraphs 48(2)(a)-(f) of the Marriage Act)

 Section 88D  Validity of marriages of the Marriage Act states:

(1)  Subject to this section, a marriage to which this Part applies shall be recognised in Australia as valid.

             (2)  A marriage to which this Part applies shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) if:

                            (a)   either of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, a party to a marriage with some other person and the last‑mentioned marriage was, at that time, recognised in Australia as valid;

                            (b)   where one of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia—either of the parties was not of marriageable age within the meaning of Part II;

                             (c)   the parties are within a prohibited relationship within the meaning of section 23B; or

                            (d)   the consent of either of the parties was not a real consent for a reason set out in subparagraph 23B(1)(d)(i), (ii) or (iii).

             (3)  Where neither of the parties to a marriage to which this Part applies was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia, the marriage shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while either party is under the age of 16 years.

             (4)  A marriage solemnised in a foreign country, being a marriage to which this Part applies, shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while the marriage is voidable:

                            (a)   except in a case to which paragraph (b) applies—under the local law; or

                            (b)   if the marriage was solemnised in a foreign country by or in the presence of a diplomatic or consular officer of another foreign country—under the law of that other foreign country.

             (5)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this Part, where:

                            (a)   a marriage (in this subsection referred to as the initial marriage) has, whether before or after the commencement of this Part, been solemnised in a foreign country;

                            (b)   at the time of the solemnisation of the initial marriage, that marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid;

                             (c)   after the solemnisation of the initial marriage, and whether before or after the commencement of this Part, either party to that marriage entered into another marriage (in this subsection referred to as the subsequent marriage); and

                            (d)   at the time when the subsequent marriage was solemnised:

                              (i)  the subsequent marriage was recognised in Australia as valid; and

                             (ii)  the initial marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid; the initial marriage shall not be recognised at any time in Australia as valid.

What evidence is required for Divorces Granted In Australia

For divorces granted in Australia the required evidence of divorce will depend on when the divorce was granted. As explained below, it will be either a ‘decree absolute’, ‘certificate of divorce’ or ‘divorce order’. An authorised celebrant with concerns about whether a party has provided sufficient evidence of divorce should contact the department for guidance.

When divorce granted Required evidence of divorce
5 January 1975 to 1 July 2002 ‘decree absolute’ (A ‘decree nisi’ is not sufficient.)
1 July 2002 to 3 August 2005 ‘certificate of divorce’ (The certificate will include wording of decree nisi/absolute but the document is called a certificate of divorce.)
3 August 2005 to 13 February 2010 ‘certificate of divorce’ (Wording on the certificate will refer to a ‘divorce order’.)
13 February 2010 to 17 December 2011 ‘divorce order’ (Issued electronically with no colour seals or signatures.)
From 17 December 2011 current ‘divorce order’ (Issued electronically with colour seal and signature. An authorised celebrant may accept a divorce order where seal and signature are not in colour.) (Wording includes the Court’s jurisdictional finding that one or both parties domiciled in or a citizen of or ordinarily resident in Australia.)

Why do I have to show my previous Marriage or Divorce Certificate before I can remarry?

Under the  Marriage Act 1961, a party whose last marriage ended in divorce must produce evidence of this last divorce to the authorised celebrant. This evidence should take the form of the actual certificate of divorce, decree absolute or overseas issued equivalent. These options are explained below.

Couples must be clearly advised that the marriage cannot take place until the evidence of this divorce has been sighted.

If a party has been married several times before, only the divorce order for the most recent marriage need be sighted by the authorised celebrant.

A divorce granted by a church is not the same as a divorce order made by a court, and does not demonstrate that a person is free to marry. A party claiming that a previous marriage has been annulled must provide the authorised celebrant with a court document to that effect.

To put this in context, Under Paragraph 42(1)(c) of the Marriage Act, each party to an intended marriage must make a declaration before the authorised celebrant as to their conjugal status and belief that there is no legal impediment to the marriage.

The declaration must be in accordance with the approved form, which is available to all authorised celebrants on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

The declarations must be made before the marriage is solemnised. This should occur as close as possible to the ceremony, even if this requires the parties to make a special attendance by the authorised celebrant.

The Marriage Act does not permit the declarations to be made immediately after the ceremony.

It is an offence for an authorised celebrant to solemnise a marriage unless both parties have made their declarations of no legal impediment.

It is also an offence for a party to knowingly give a false declaration.

The conjugal status a party gives in the declaration should be the same as that given in item five of the NOIM unless the party was waiting for their dissolution of marriage to be finalised at the time of signing the NOIM. In that case the conjugal status on the NOIM will be ‘married’ with some reference to the steps that have been or are being taken to dissolve that marriage, and the conjugal status given in the declaration will be ‘divorced’.

Paragraph 3 of the declaration deals with establishing that the party is of marriageable age and the party should be careful to cross out whichever statement is inapplicable. The authorised celebrant should initial the deletion in the margin. Where a party is a minor, his or her date of birth must be given. The authorised celebrant should at this stage, if this has not already been done, check that a section 12 order has been obtained from a court and check that the consent or consents required under sections 13 or 14 of the Marriage Act are adequate and in order (see Part 8.6 of these Guidelines for further information on marriage involving a minor).

If an authorised celebrant has reason to believe that there is a legal impediment to a marriage, or that a marriage would be void, the celebrant should not solemnise or purport to solemnise the marriage. To do so may be an offence. This is the case even if the marrying couple has signed their declaration, but the celebrant has reason to believe that declaration may be false.

The production of past Marriage and/or Divorce Certificate goes toward confirming that status but also serves to establish your identity.

Each party to a marriage must give their authorised celebrant documents that establish their date/place of birth and identity. In most cases people use the name recorded on their birth certificate, meaning that name will be recorded on all documents they give their authorised celebrant, and in the NOIM.

If a party gives their authorised celebrant documents recording different names, the authorised celebrant should check the party has provided a sufficient chain of documents that both establish their identity and link the names. The case studies below demonstrate such a chain of documents and how to use them.

What evidence of divorce must I produce if my divorce was granted overseas?

If a person was divorced overseas they must provide the authorised celebrant with divorce documentation from the country where the divorce was granted.

The Attorney-General’s Department is unable to verify the validity of foreign divorce documents or divorce procedures.

An authorised celebrant with concerns about overseas divorce documents should advise the party/parties to contact the relevant embassy or high commission to seek written confirmation that the documents provided are appropriate evidence of divorce in that country (noting that in some cases a person (most notably a refugee) may not be comfortable approaching the embassy or high commission of their country of origin to seek this confirmation). This confirmation should be provided to the authorised celebrant. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has contact details for foreign embassies and high commissions in Australia (see http://protocol.dfat.gov.au/Mission/list.rails).

If the authorised celebrant is still uncertain as to whether the evidence of divorce is sufficient, or the person does not get confirmation from their country of origin’s embassy or high commission, they should recommend to the party that they seek legal advice in relation to the power of the Family Court, under section 104 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), to make declarations as to the validity of an overseas annulment or a divorce. In some circumstances such a declaration that an overseas divorce is valid may be the only satisfactory evidence that a prior marriage has been dissolved.

Difficulties can arise if a person was divorced overseas and the records kept by the country where the divorce was granted have since been destroyed, or a party in Australia finds it impracticable to obtain records from overseas.

It is important for authorised celebrants to be aware that it is the responsibility of the party to the proposed marriage to satisfy the celebrant that they are free to marry. An authorised celebrant should ask the couple to provide legal advice supporting the validity of any overseas divorce if the celebrant is uncertain that the marriage has been dissolved. Celebrants should not solemnise a marriage if they are uncertain whether a prior marriage has been dissolved.

Statutory declarations are not acceptable evidence of divorce from a person’s former spouse.

Authorised celebrants should seek guidance from the department where a party to a proposed marriage was married in another country before he or she came to Australia and is unable to supply evidence of the end of a previous marriage. An example is a person who came to Australia as a refugee and may be unable to obtain evidence of the end of the previous marriage from the country in which they were previously married. The appropriate documentation needed in such instances will vary according to the particular situation.

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), a party to an overseas marriage can apply to the Family Court for a divorce in certain circumstances (e.g. after a period of residency). It is recommended that the party seek legal advice about this potential option.

What surname should be put on the NOIM if a party has been married before, but now divorced, or their spouse has died, and the first marriage took place overseas?

A person in this situation has a choice.

If they have continued using their birth name during the prior marriage they should record this name on the NOIM.

If they reverted to the name on their birth certificate after divorce or death of their spouse, they may record that name on the NOIM.

If they changed their name as a result of the first marriage and have kept using that name, then they may use this name on the NOIM. The authorised celebrant will of course need to see evidence of the death of, or divorce from, the first spouse.


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DOCUMENTS

Why do I have to sign a Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage and show my Divorce Certificate?

To put this in context, under Paragraph 42(1)(c) of the Marriage Act, each party to an intended marriage must make a declaration before the authorised celebrant as to their conjugal status and belief that there is no legal impediment to the marriage.

The declaration must be in accordance with the approved form, which is available to all authorised celebrants on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

The declarations must be made before the marriage is solemnised. This should occur as close as possible to the ceremony, even if this requires the parties to make a special attendance by the authorised celebrant.

The Marriage Act does not permit the declarations to be made immediately after the ceremony.

It is an offence for an authorised celebrant to solemnise a marriage unless both parties have made their declarations of no legal impediment.

It is also an offence for a party to knowingly give a false declaration.

The conjugal status a party gives in the declaration should be the same as that given in item five of the NOIM unless the party was waiting for their dissolution of marriage to be finalised at the time of signing the NOIM. In that case the conjugal status on the NOIM will be ‘married’ with some reference to the steps that have been or are being taken to dissolve that marriage, and the conjugal status given in the declaration will be ‘divorced’.

Paragraph 3 of the declaration deals with establishing that the party is of marriageable age and the party should be careful to cross out whichever statement is inapplicable. The authorised celebrant should initial the deletion in the margin. Where a party is a minor, his or her date of birth must be given. The authorised celebrant should at this stage, if this has not already been done, check that a section 12 order has been obtained from a court and check that the consent or consents required under sections 13 or 14 of the Marriage Act are adequate and in order (see Part 8.6 of these Guidelines for further information on marriage involving a minor).

If an authorised celebrant has reason to believe that there is a legal impediment to a marriage, or that a marriage would be void, the celebrant should not solemnise or purport to solemnise the marriage. To do so may be an offence. This is the case even if the marrying couple has signed their declaration, but the celebrant has reason to believe that declaration may be false.

The production of past Marriage and/or Divorce Certificate goes toward confirming that status but also serves to establish your identity.

Each party to a marriage must give their authorised celebrant documents that establish their date/place of birth and identity. In most cases people use the name recorded on their birth certificate, meaning that name will be recorded on all documents they give their authorised celebrant, and in the NOIM.

If a party gives their authorised celebrant documents recording different names, the authorised celebrant should check the party has provided a sufficient chain of documents that both establish their identity and link the names. The case studies below demonstrate such a chain of documents and how to use them.

Why & when do I have to sign a No Impediment to Marriage Declaration?

Under Paragraph 42(1)(c) of the Marriage Act, each party to an intended marriage must make a declaration before the authorised celebrant as to their conjugal status and belief that there is no legal impediment to the marriage.

The declaration must be in accordance with the approved form, which is available to all authorised celebrants on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

The declarations must be made before the marriage is solemnised. This should occur as close as possible to the ceremony, even if this requires the parties to make a special attendance.

DRESS & DRESSING

Should I wear a strapless (off the shoulder) dress, or a dress with straps or shoulder covering?

A strapless dress can be very alluring and attractive, but you need to be confident wearing it.

Practice your every movement for the Ceremony and afterwards, while wearing a sample dress and have someone else count the number of times you consciously or even unconsciously adjust the garment.

As a Celebrant, I have seen a variety of dresses and all brides look absolutely stunning, but my humble observation is that ‘off the shoulder’ (OTS) strapless dresses will slip up or down and will require frequent, if not constant adjusting even if well-fitting and supported by the correct undergarments.

I had one bride let go of her groom’s hands during the vows so that she could adjust her strapless dress.

I am told that fashion models overcome the problem in photoshoots, largely by great design in dresses, very specific undergarments and most significantly, the use of ‘glue’ but even then, they are still restricted in movement.

So that while OTS is fashionable, every time I see a bride or bridesmaid, wearing one, the frequent tugging on the dress can become very distracting (for her & others) and could even impact on your wedding video and photographs.

Imagine turning to your beloved groom to take his hands and suddenly your dress distractingly slides upwards on your arms; and later when you are dancing or go to throw a bouquet, you discover that you have to quickly adjust the dress to avoid embarrassment.

The only way to reduce the movement of the dress, I am told, even if it is a perfect dress with correct undergarment fit, is gluing, pinning to other garments and restricting movement.

In contrast, even a small amount of shoulder support/covering eliminates all the problem and can add eloquence.

Do I need to include the dress code on the invitation?

Yes, it is wise and thoughtful to do that so that:

People will know what they should, wear e.g. dress for a movie theme, smart casual, cocktail attire, or black tie optional.

You will be reasonably confident that people will dress to the standard you require for the event.

Is there a dress code?

You can dress however you like. It is after all your wedding.

I dress to a standard appropriate to the circumstances.

As a default, I always wear a suit but if you would like me to wear something else, (e.g. costume, fancy dress), just let me know and I’ll do my very best to meet your needs… but I don’t think I would be comfortable, e.g. going nude.

Should I list a dress code on the invitation?

Yes, it is wise and thoughtful to do that so that:

People will know what they should, wear e.g. dress for a movie theme, smart casual, cocktail attire, or black tie optional.

You will be reasonably confident that people will dress to the standard you require for the event.

It is always helpful for guests to have an idea of expectations but use clear, common-sense language and instructions.

People generally understand ‘cocktail attire’, formal, black tie, smart casual etc. and so having that on the invite gives them a guide as to what they should wear.

If you are having a very casual event, you probably don’t want people turning up in tuxedos but likewise, if you have chosen ‘black tie’, you don’t want guests turning up in torn jeans. So best to offer some guidance on the invite.

Do I really need someone to hold my dress in the bathroom?

This depends on the dress. If you’re wearing a full-length ball gown, you’ll probably need an extra set of hands to help hold up the skirt while you do your thing. Trust us—the cost versus the benefit on this is a no-brainer. But if you’re sporting a silk sheath and a group bathroom trip makes you cringe, go ahead and handle your own business.

Will the Celebrant at need a space to change?

Depending on the size & location of the event and the set-up required, a suitable change room may be required because you and I want me to look my best for your wedding.

If it is 32C+, or it is pouring rain, and I must drag my equipment up a hill, I might get a bit dishevelled and, so I don’t always wear my suit during setup and might even need a shower after the setup to look my best and so a change room might be necessary but is not always needed.


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DRINKS

Can I have a drink to steady my nerves?

It is vital that an authorised celebrant is satisfied that both parties genuinely consent to the marriage. If at any point a celebrant is unsure of the genuine consent of either party, he or she should not proceed with solemnising the marriage.

An authorised celebrant might have been satisfied that a party was mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony before the ceremony was due to be conducted, but might form a different view because of the party’s conduct during the marriage ceremony itself. In such a case the authorised celebrant should not proceed to solemnise the marriage until satisfied that the party is mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony.

Other consent issues that arise on the day of the marriage ceremony can include, for example, duress or a party to the marriage who is drunk, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise appears to be in an altered mental state to an extent that this could impair their ability to consent to the marriage.

Should we have an open bar?

That depends on your lifestyle and budget but just be sure everyone is sober for the Ceremony, especially the Bridal/Wedding Party.

It is vital that an authorised celebrant is satisfied that both parties genuinely consent to the marriage. If at any point a celebrant is unsure of the genuine consent of either party, he or she should not proceed with solemnising the marriage.

An authorised celebrant might have been satisfied that a party was mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony before the ceremony was due to be conducted, but might form a different view as a result of the party’s conduct during the marriage ceremony itself. In such a case the authorised celebrant should not proceed to solemnise the marriage until satisfied that the party is mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony.

Other consent issues that arise on the day of the marriage ceremony can include, for example, duress or a party to the marriage who is drunk, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise appears to be in an altered mental state to an extent that this could impair their ability to consent to the marriage.

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES & ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS

What documents can an authorised celebrant receive electronically?

  • The Notice of Intended Marriage (when completed or if completed via AVL))
  • Original supporting documents – passport (scanned original), birth certificate (scanned original), divorce certificates (scanned original or certified copy).
  • A Commonwealth statutory declaration (scanned original signed in pen).

What documents can be signed electronically in the presence of an authorised celebrant or authorised witness?

  • The Notice
  • Official certificates of marriage (civil and religious) and
  • Declaration of No Legal Impediment (DNLI)
  • Certificate of Faithful Performance by an Interpreter (following the solemnisation of the marriage)

What is an ‘Electronic Signature”?

An Electronic signature is a usual signature (typed, scanned or digitised) equivalent to a hand‑written signature.

ENGAGEMENT PARTY

Should I wear white to my own engagement party?

It is tradition for the Bride to Be to wear white to her own engagement party but wear what you feel most comfortable wearing. It is a very happy occasion and what you wear should reflect your joy.

What exactly happens at an engagement party, what the purpose of it is and who pays for it?

It is a celebration and formal announcement of your intentions and so there are speeches (as many or as few as you like) and like all celebrations, you can have a cake.

It can be as simple as a small gathering or a huge formal affair.

Traditionally the bride’s parents would host the party, the Groom’s parents are the next option,  but commonly this has changed to both couples’ parents contributing, or even the couple themselves, so anyone can host it.

On rare occasions, it is the Bridal/Wedding Party (Maid of Honour) who hosts the show, but as they or she, will be in charge of other gatherings later, it is probably for others to manage the Engagement party.

It would usually be held within 3 months of the actual proposal and some months (at least 6) before the wedding, so the Engagement party should be closer to the proposal than the wedding.

It is entirely a matter of choice and practicality as to whether you have one, but an engagement party announces your love to the world and your intention to marry.

You can even have your Celebrant attend for a commitment ceremony and ring blessing.

When should we hold our engagement party?

The Engagement party should be closer to the proposal than the wedding.

An Engagement Party would usually be held within 3 months of the actual proposal and some months (at least 6) before the wedding.

It is entirely a matter of choice and practicality as to whether you have one, but an engagement party announces your love to the world and your intention to marry and You can even have your Celebrant attend for a commitment ceremony, ring blessing or similar.

ENGAGEMENT RING

How can I buy the perfect engagement ring?

The three major considerations should be:

      1. Your partner’s expectations
      2. Your Budget or ability to meet those expectations
      3. Your partners taste in style and jewellery

The goal is to find a balance between the three.

An interesting side consideration is that statistically, those who pay $thousands or even $millions have shorter marriages, so the higher the ring price, the shorter the marriage whereas marriages where under $5000 was spent on the ring, tend to be long lasting.

According to Credit Donkey, there are 10 steps to buying the perfect engagement ring:

How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

That is a very personal decision and I’ll explain why.

The ‘Rule of Thumb’ created by a marketing campaign in the 1940s was that two months’ salary should be spent on the engagement ring and it certainly worked to boost the profits of jewellers but as the ring is more about emotional than income, other consideration should come to play.

The three major considerations should be:

      1. Your partner’s expectations
      2. Your Budget or ability to meet those expectations
      3. Your partners taste in style and jewellery

The goal is to find a balance between the three.

An interesting side consideration is that statistically, those who pay $thousands or even $millions have shorter marriages, so the higher the ring price, the shorter the marriage whereas marriages where under $5000 was spent on the ring, tend to be long lasting.

My summation on that is that where appearances are placed above the relationship, the relationship will get into trouble but if the love and devotion are stronger, the love will be lasting.

According to Credit Donkey, there are 10 steps to buying the perfect engagement ring:

So the best outcome is to buy a ring that you can afford but which is to your tastes.

What are the 4Cs when it comes to diamonds  on an engagement ring?

Diamonds are graded by the 4 Cs which are:

Carat:    or weight, determines the size of the diamond.

Clarity: The fewer flaws, the greater the value. If you cannot see flaws with the naked eye, it’s called an eye-clean diamond.

Colour: A clear diamond is the rarest and has the highest grade of D. A yellow diamond will have the lowest grade of Z.

Cut:        The cut creates the sparkle and so impacts on the beauty of the diamond.

Another consideration is Shape: Not to be confused with ‘cut’ the shape identifies the overall appearance of the diamond, e.g. round, oval, teardrop etc. Round stones are the most common.

Where did the tradition of diamond engagement rings and gold wedding bands come from?

The tradition of exchanging wedding rings goes back as far as 4,800 years to ancient Egypt, but the rings were made of braided papyrus and reeds.

The Romans were the first to exchange jewellery, but they exchanged iron rings as a sign of devotion and a claim of ownership as It also transferred the ownership of the daughter from the father to the new husband. They did however have gold rings worn for special occasions

The engagement ring was a sign of a marriage contract between two people, but the first diamond engagement ring ever used was not until 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria asked Mary of Burgundy to marry him. The diamonds were in the shape of an “M” and were very thin and delicate. Back then, diamonds were expensive even for European aristocrats.

It was not however until around 1938 and through the 1940s, that the diamond cartel, de Beers, which controlled the diamond market, launched a very successful advertising campaign equating diamonds to love. The ‘Diamonds are forever’ slogan suggesting everlasting commitment and love, still remains. The theme of their advertising was:

    • Diamonds were the only way to show your love to a woman.
    • A woman measured a man’s love based on the diamond size.
    • Anyone who was anyone in life must have a diamond on their finger, just like the celebrities.

This campaign is attributed to giving birth to the modern diamond engagement ring phenomenon.

(ref: https://www.creditdonkey.com/history-engagement-ring.html)

Where do I put my engagement ring during the ceremony?

Wear the ring on your right hand or have someone hold it for you. If you want to wear your engagement ring for the reception, you can put it on after the ceremony. For Jewish weddings, it’s fine to wear your engagement ring and then exchange stone-free wedding bands if you want to keep with tradition. Also remember: The band is usually worn closest to your heart on your left hand.

Why is an engagement ring so important?

A diamond engagement ring is a symbol of your love. It shows that you are committed to the relationship. The ring is a special gift just for her and the expense shows that you’re invested in your future together.

(ref: https://www.creditdonkey.com/history-engagement-ring.html)

FAVOURS

Do we have to do Wedding Favours?

That’s not really a question for your celebrant but the answer is probably No, as it is entirely your choice. Many like to offer gifts to their guests to thanks them for their support, to give something to remember the occasions, or just to add to the fun.

FLOWERS

What do flowers symbolise?

Month Australia Australian Symbolisation UK Flower UK Symbolisation USA Flower USA Symbolisation
January Carnation

Snowdrop

Guinea Flower

Love, fascination and distinction

Strength & endurance

Carnation[2] Love, fascination and distinction. Carnation

Snowdrop

fascination, distinction, love
February Violet

Primrose

Cut-leaf Daisy

modesty, innocence, stability, sympathy and cheerfulness Violet[3]

Iris

Faithfulness, Wisdom and Hope, Loyalty. Violets come in shades of Purple & White.

Iris symbolises Royalty, Faith, Wisdom, Hope & Valour

Primrose modesty, distinction, virtue,
March 1.   Daffodil

2.   Jonquil

3.   Native Rhododendron

1.   Domestic Happiness, Respect, Regard and Friendship, new beginnings.

2.   Desire, domestic bliss as well as friendship

3.   Caution

Daffodil[4] Spring, Rebirth, Domestic Happiness, Respect, Regard and Friendship, new beginnings. Daffodil spring, rebirth, domestic happiness, vanity
April Daisy

Sweet Pea

Native Violet

Faithfulness, Wisdom and Hope, Loyalty.

Love, Youth, Purity, Innocence

Sweet Pea

Daisy

Love, Youth, Purity, Innocence Sweet pea good-bye, or blissful pleasure
May Lily Of The Valley

Hawthorn

Pink waxflower

Humility, Chastity, and Sweetness, a return to happiness

Riches

Lily of the Valley Humility, Chastity, and Sweetness, a return to happiness. Hawthorn

Lily of the Valley

happiness, humility, sweetness
June Rose

Honeysuckle

Payne’s Thryptomene

·  love, gratitude, appreciation

·  made small-humble

Rose (Depending on colour), Love, Appreciation, Passion, Beauty and Perfection, innocence, purity, and remembrance. Rose

Honeysuckle

love, gratitude, appreciation
July Larkspur

Water Lily

Dampiera Diversifolia

Levity and Lightness.

Colour, contrariness, a happy nature, a first love (Purple), Strong bonds of love.

Explorer, diversity

Larkspur (Depending on colour),

Levity and Lightness.

Colour, contrariness, a happy nature, a first love (Purple), Strong bonds of love.

Water Lily

Delphinium

Delphinium

 

joyful, fickleness, sweet
August Gladiolus

Poppy

#Brown Boronia

Strength of character[5], Moral Integrity, Remembrance, Infatuation, honour.

#Service & healing

Gladiolus Strength of character[5], Moral Integrity, Remembrance, Infatuation, honour. Poppy

Gladiolus

moral integrity
September Aster

Morning Glory

Gum Blossom#

daintiness, love, magic

#purity, healing

Aster

Myosotis

Patience, Daintiness and Remembrance, deep emotional love and affection. Morning Glory

Aster

daintiness, love, magic
October 1.    Marigold

2.    Cosmos

3.    Callistemon ‘Harkness’

1.    Warm, Fierce, exemplifies elegance and devotion.

2.    orderly, beautiful, and ornamental

3.    beauty

Marigold Warm, Fierce, exemplifies elegance and devotion. Calendula

Marigold

winning grace; protection; comfort; healing; lovable
November Chrysanthemum

Flannel Flower#

cheerfulness, friendship, abundance #playfulness, being carefree and spontaneous joy Chrysanthemum (Depending on colour) Compassion, Friendship, Joy. Red = Love,

White = innocence

Yellow = unrequited love.

Chrysanthemum

Peony

cheerfulness, friendship, abundance
December 1.   Narcissus (paperwhite)

2.   Holly

3.   Christmas Bells

1. sweetness, self-esteem, vanity

2. renewal, immortality, rejuvenation

3. holy, truth, ward off negativity

Poinsettia Good Cheer, Success.

“You Are The Special One”

Holly

Narcissus

sweetness, self-esteem, vanity

 

Why can’t specific flowers colours be guaranteed?

Flowers are a product of nature, and so are subject to variation that might be influenced by seasons, the element when growing and condition after being cut.

FOREIGN RECOGNITION OF AUSTRALIAN MARRIAGE

If I get married in Australia will my marriage be recognised in other countries?

Generally, Marriage in Australia is recognised by all 113 countries that are signatories to the Apostille Convention but an Apostille Seal from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), may be required.

The countries (states) are listed here

There may however be a complication in respect to recognition of your Marriages if you are of the same sex, as marriage equality by as late as 2022 was still only legal in 30 countries and so you should check with your country of residence as to legal status & recognition.

GARTER

Why do Grooms toss the Bride’s garter?

In past ages, a marriage had to consummated to be valid and proof of that consummation was guest checking the undergarments of the bride. This evolved to the groom throwing an undergarment to the crowd for checking rather than the crowd grabbing at the Bride and for modesty, this evolved to the throwing of the garter. Like the maids (unmarried women) upon whom good luck was bestowed by catching the bouquet, the unmarried man who catches the garter, also has is thought to be the lucky next Groom.


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GENDER

Does a celebrant need to have the couple provide proof of their gender?

No.

Marriage celebrants can choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence.

As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for:

    • date and place of birth,
    • identity of the parties; and
    • if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

Given the changes to the Marriage Act in 2017, where sex and gender no longer play a role in the law, can we remove ‘sex’ from the NOIM?

The NOIM asks a person to identify their sex as Female, Male or Non-Binary

The information provided enables the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to prepare and publish national marriage statistics.

When completing forms and saying vows, parties may choose to use the term that best describes their gender.

You may wish to choose gender-neutral descriptors in the ceremony e.g. ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’.

Marriage celebrants should accept a party’s statement about their sex and gender.

The Australian Government recognises that a person’s sex and gender may not be the same. Individuals may identify and be recognised as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female.

The AG’s department is undertaking a broad review in 2018, of the official marriage forms. As part of the review, they are consulting with the ABS about whether there is an ongoing need to collect statistical information about the sex of the parties to a marriage.

Is it a criminal offence to not record gender correctly on the NOIM?

Item 1 of the Notice of Intended Marriage requires a party to indicate how they want to be described.

This question has been included to allow state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages to register marriages and issue certificates that reflect how couples want to describe themselves.

There are three options for a party’s description:

    1. partner, or
    2. bride, or
    3. groom

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves in the marriage forms.

Item 4 asks a person to identify their sex as either Male, Female or Non-Binary. This question has been included for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to continue to prepare and publish national marriage statistics based on sex. A party’s recorded sex does not need to align with their gender identity.

Marriage celebrants can choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence.

When completing forms and saying vows, parties may choose to use the term that best describes their gender. Any person may choose the gender-neutral descriptors ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’.

Marriage celebrants should accept a party’s statement about their sex and gender.

The Australian Government recognises that a person’s sex and gender may not be the same. Individuals may identify and be recognised as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female.

As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for:

date and place of birth,

identity of the parties; and

if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

The fact sheet (Changes to Marriage Ceremony Requirements) states that the descriptor groom can be used by a male party and bride by a female party but does not state the descriptor bride cannot be used by a male party or vice versa, so can a male be described as a Bride?.

Yes. It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

When completing forms and saying vows, parties may choose to use the term that best describes their gender. Any person may choose the gender-neutral descriptors ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’.

Marriage celebrants should accept a party’s statement about their sex and gender.

The Australian Government recognises that a person’s sex and gender may not be the same. Individuals may identify and be recognised as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female.

What choices do we have in regard to being identified as Bride or Groom?

You can be whichever you choose.

It is simply the choice of the parties to the marriage.

After changes to Marriage Law, there was a period of time that we were told that only males could be grooms and only females could be brides, but this was subsequently recognised as being discriminatory and so the ruling changed.

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

Marriage celebrants can now choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence. As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for date and place of birth, evidence of identity of the parties; and if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

What does the acronym LGBTQIA mean?

LGBTQIA = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual.

People whose gender identity is opposite to the gender assigned at birth

Lesbian Female attracted to female
Gay Male or female attracted to same sex
Gender fluidity Genderfluid live between, above, behind, around gender
Gender diverse Gender diversity includes people who identify as transgender, genderfluid, intersex, gender questioning and genderqueer people.
Bisexual Attraction to both men & women
Transvestite  a person who wears clothes designed for the opposite sex i.e. a cross-dresser
Transgender Person whose gender identity is different to the gender assigned at birth
Transsexual
Queer umbrella term for sexuality and gender diverse people
Intersex grouped under the term “hermaphrodites”, Intersex people have genital, chromosomal or other physical characteristics of both male & female
Asexual Generally, Asexuality is the absence of sexual attraction
Cisgender term used to describe people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, for example, a person born with male genitals who identifies as a man is cisgender.
Pansexual One who is attracted to multiple genders
Heterosexism sexual attraction between people of opposite sex or gender

What happens when a driver’s licence and a passport have different sex categories recorded?

Marriage celebrants can choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence.

Accordingly, it is not appropriate to question what sex or gender is recorded in a party’s licence or passport.

In relation to the NOIM, a party’s recorded sex does not need to align with their gender identity.

As set out in the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender (Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender) individuals may identify as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or may not identify as exclusively male or female.

The Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender also note that there are legitimate reasons people may hold conflicting documents, for example, people who identify primarily as ‘X’ may want to hold a passport in a particular gender to ensure their safety while travelling overseas.

What if a person changes their gender identity on the day the marriage is to be solemnised?

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

A celebrant may permit changes to the NOIM at any time before the marriage has been solemnised.

The alteration should be initialled by the party changing the information and by the celebrant.

The NOIM may not be changed after the marriage has been solemnised.

If there is a difference in recorded gender in the NOIM and the marriage certificate after a marriage has been solemnised, the celebrant may wish to send a covering note explaining the change to the BDM when registering the marriage.

What if a person does not associate themselves with either male or female, as is now legally permitted – should they only be permitted to use the term partner/spouse?

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves, including whether they wish to describe themselves as ‘partner/spouse’.

Why can’t I use the term ‘partner in marriage’ in the vows?

You can use those words in your Vows.

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by each of the parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion).

As part of the legislative amendments that provided for marriage equality in 2017, the vows for use in a civil marriage ceremony were amended to expressly provide that parties to a marriage may elect to use the gender-neutral term ‘spouse’ in their vows.

This term was added as an additional option, the terms

    • ‘husband’ or
    • ‘wife’, or ‘
    • words to that effect’,

also continue to be available for use by parties when stating their marriage vows.

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Why do we have Item 1 (Description of Party) of the NOIM?

Item 1 of the NOIM includes three identifying options available to each party to a marriage:

  • Partner
  • Bride
  • Groom

When completing forms and saying vows, parties may choose to use the term that best describes their gender. Any person may choose the gender-neutral descriptors ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’.It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

The information provided in Item 1 of the NOIM is used by state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages to register marriages and issue official marriage certificates.

The Registrar is currently (2018) considering whether it is necessary to retain this item in the NOIM as part of the current review into marriage forms.

Can I marry as male or female if I was born in the opposite sex as a female or male?

Yes.

According to the Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, the Australian Government recognises that individuals may identify and be recognised within the community as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female.

Marriage celebrants can now choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence. As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for date and place of birth, evidence of identity of the parties; and if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

You will find more information at this link:

https://www.ag.gov.au/Publications/Documents/AustralianGovernmentGuidelinesontheRecognitionofSexandGender/AustralianGovernmentGuidelinesontheRecognitionofSexandGender.pdf

 

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GIFTS

Do I have to buy thank-you, gifts?

It is correct etiquette and actually just polite, to thank a few special people with some gifts to remember the occasion and of course, just to say, ‘thank you’ for their help and support.

The people on that list might include your parents, grandparents, Bridal/Wedding Party, flower girls, ring bearers, your own children, and anyone else that helped with the wedding.

GIVING AWAY THE BRIDE

Can my Mum be my escort?

Of course.

It is a lovely and supportive gesture for the Bride (or Groom) to be accompanied by a loved one such as a Parent, Grandparent or other person of significance to the Bride (or Groom), but it is not compulsory, and it does not have to be a male.

I have many couples who simply enter together or escort each other to position.

As for the walk down the aisle, I prefer the term of ‘Escorting’ or ‘Presenting’ the Bride.

The tradition of ‘Giving Away’ the Bride dates to times when women were regarded as possessions and so the father who was the Carer/Possessor, handed over the Care/Possession, to the Groom.

When the Bride is escorted, (or even if not) I like to add a few ‘I Do’ questions to the parents and loved ones, or even to all of the guests. These may be akin to:

“Do you promises to support this couple whenever they ask for help, but to give them privacy when they don’t?

Do I have to have someone give me away?

It is a lovely and supportive gesture for the Bride to be accompanied by a loved one such as a Parent, Grandparent or other person of significance to the Bride, but it is not compulsory at all. I have many couples who simply enter together or escort each other to position.

As for the walk down the aisle, I prefer the term of ‘Escorting’ or ‘Presenting’ the Bride.

The tradition of ‘Giving Away’ the Bride dates to times when women were regarded as possessions and so the father who was the Carer/Possessor, handed over the Care/Possession, to the Groom.

When the Bride is escorted, (or even if not) I like to add a few ‘I Do’ questions to the parents and loved ones, or even all of the guests. These may be akin to:

“Do you promises to support this couple whenever they ask for help, but to give them privacy when they don’t?

 


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GUESTS

How can I predict how many guests will rsvp ‘yes’?

The commonly accepted rule of thumb is that 75% will RSVP but that is not a hard and fast rule. Everyone might come, so make certain your budget and expectations match.

How do I create a guest list?

Make a list of everyone you want to share the occasion with and who would really want to be with you. Those you value now and will value later; and who value you.

You don’t however need to invite everyone that you have ever met.

Once you have the list, check your budget and see how many you can afford to have as guests.

Read the list several times and reduce as needed until you have the ideal number.

 

How many guests can I have?

That is entirely up to you and your venue but let me know so that I can adjust the ceremony accordingly. If you have only the 2 witnesses in attendance, the ceremony may be under 20 minutes but if you have 200 guests or more, you will want the ceremony to last longer than the time it took to seat everyone.

What’s the best way to greet guests if I don’t want a receiving line?

Make a short speech thanking guests for coming, parents (or anyone else who helped pay for your wedding or given support in other ways), and of course all the vendors (you may be paying them, but they are doing all they can to make you day special).

You can also greet your guests during the reception by going from table to table during the first course but always remember to eat as well because you will need the energy.

HANDICAPPED

Should I ensure handicap accessibility for my venue?

If you or your guests have mobility restriction or a handicap, then of course yes.

HONEYMOON

What is the origin of the Honeymoon?

In days of old, Brides were sometimes abducted from neighbouring villages and a Ceremony held under a full moon, and in the Norse tradition, the bride and groom were secreted away for 30 days (a lunar month) during which time, a friend or family member would bring them a cup of honey wine, and so the end of the 30 days, signalled by a new moon ending the honey wine consumption, became the “honeymoon.”

IDENTITY

How do I prove my identity to the Celebrant?

The Guidelines for Marriage Celebrants covers that as follows:

  4.12 ESTABLISHING IDENTITIES OF THE PARTIES TO THE MARRIAGE

A celebrant shall not solemnise a marriage unless satisfied that the parties are the parties referred to in the NOIM. (Section 75 of the Marriage Act.)

This requirement is separate from, and additional to, the requirement that each party to a marriage must give their celebrant evidence of their date and place of birth before a marriage is solemnised.

The Marriage Act does not prescribe the documents required to be sighted as evidence of identity.

There may be some overlap between the documents that can be provided as evidence of date and place of birth and those that may be provided as proof of identity. Ultimately it is up to each celebrant to determine whether they are satisfied as to the identity of the people seeking to get married.

Best practice is for a celebrant to require each party to a marriage to provide at least one of the following documents with photo identification as evidence of their identity:

          • a drivers’ licence
          • a proof of age/photo card
          • an Australian or overseas passport, or
          • a Certificate of Australian Citizenship along with another form of photographic evidence (such as a student card or other photo identification not listed above).

Each decision on accepting evidence to determine identity should be made on a case-by-case basis. If a celebrant is not satisfied of a person’s identity because of the age or validity of documents presented to them, they should request that the couple provide alternate evidence.

An expired Australian passport (issued on or after 1 July 2000 with more than two years validity; that has not been expired for over ten years, or reported lost/stolen) can be used to determine the identity of a person.

An expired passport that belonged to a child may not be useful to determine the identity of an adult (even if it has been expired for less than ten years).

If a person is not able to obtain any official photo identification as evidence of their identity, celebrants may consider whether other evidence, such as a document which provides sufficient information to identify the person, such as their name, address and possibly date of birth.

Government issued documents are recommended, e.g. a letter from the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink or Medicare card and a rates notice.

For the purposes of completing the NOIM, if a driver licence is sighted as evidence of identity, in addition to recording the driver licence number, celebrants may choose to also record the state or territory in which the driver licence was issued.

Similarly, if a passport is sighted, in addition to recording the passport number on the NOIM, the country of issue could also be recorded*

* NSW BDM requires country of issue when registering a marriage

Do I need to show originals of all certificates and ID?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants are very specific that the authorised celebrant must see all the original documents prior to the marriage ceremony.

That sighting can be via audio/Visual (Zoom, Skype etc)

If the documents are not produced, and then sighted by the Celebrant, the legal marriage cannot take place.

A Commitment ceremony could still proceed but an extra fee will then be applicable for a Marriage ceremony at a later date.

What happens if I don’t show originals of all certificates and ID?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants are very specific that the authorised celebrant must see all the original documents prior to the marriage ceremony.

If the documents are not produced, and then sighted by the Celebrant, the legal marriage cannot take place.

A Commitment ceremony could still proceed but an extra fee will be then applicable for a Marriage ceremony at a later date.

Why can’t you use the scanned or photocopies of my IDs as proof as original ID?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants are very specific that the authorised celebrant must see all the original documents prior to the marriage ceremony however they can be sighted via audio/visual and then scanned

Why do my IDs have to be original documents?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants are very specific that the authorised celebrant must see all the original documents prior to the marriage ceremony however that can be via audio visual means i.e. zoom

An authorised celebrant shall not solemnise a marriage unless satisfied that the parties are the parties referred to in the NOIM. This requirement is separate from, and additional to, the requirement that each party to a marriage must give their authorised celebrant evidence of their date and place of birth before a marriage is solemnised.

An authorised celebrant should require each party to a marriage to provide at least one of the following documents with photo identification as evidence of their identity:

    • a driver’s licence
    • a proof of age/photo card
    • an Australian or overseas passport, or
    • a Certificate of Australian Citizenship along with another form of photographic evidence (such as a student card or other photo identification not listed above).

Why isn’t my laminated birth certificate considered to be an original ID?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants are very specific that the authorised celebrant must see all the original documents prior to the marriage ceremony.

Many authorities now use imbedded heat sensitive security in documents (e.g. NSW Birth certificates) A laminated copy renders the security ineffective and so invalidates the document and there is often now a warning in fine print on the document, to that effect.

A laminated copy therefor may not be accepted as an original and it may be necessary to obtain a new original.

 

I was married and divorced and so my birth certificate and driver’s licence have different names. What do I need to prove my identity?

There is a Case Study in the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants – July 2014 that matches your situation.

It is Case Study One under section 4.12 Case Studies In The Correct Use Of Documents –

The scenario is that an authorised celebrant is approached by a prospective bride who uses the name Jane Brown.

An authorised celebrant is approached by a prospective bride who uses the name Jane Brown.

She was born Jane Smith and was previously married to Tim Brown.

She changed her name by usage to Jane Brown following that marriage.

She was divorced from Tim Brown and has the following documents:

    • a birth certificate (issued by NSW BDM) which records her name as Jane Smith
    • a BDM issued marriage certificate which also records her name as Jane Smith
    • a Federal Magistrates Court issued Certificate of Divorce for her marriage to, and subsequent divorce from, Tim Brown which records her name as Jane Brown, and
    • a driver’s licence which records her name as Jane Brown.

For the purposes of section 42 of the Marriage Act, an authorised celebrant needs to see all of these documents to establish Jane’s correct name for use on the marriage documents and to fulfil all the other responsibilities under section 42 as follows:

  1. A) Proof of date and place of birth (subsection 42(2)) – the authorised celebrant must use the BDM issued birth certificate.
  2. B) Proof of identity (subsection 42(8)) – the authorised celebrant needs to use the full chain of documents listed above.

The BDM issued birth certificate, the BDM issued marriage certificate and the Court issued divorce certificate taken together establish the clear link in the name change from Jane Smith to Jane Brown.

This chain of documents allows the authorised celebrant to record the name Jane Brown instead of Jane Smith (as recorded on the birth certificate) on the NOIM.

The driver’s licence, which has a photograph of Jane, establishes that Jane Brown is the same person as the person referred to in the documents.

Together all these documents establish her identity.

  1. C) Evidence of the end of the previous marriage (subsection 42(10)) – the Court issued divorce certificate establishes conclusively the end of the previous marriage and so fulfils the requirement under subsection 42(10).

Remember – the authorised celebrant must see all the original documents prior to the marriage ceremony.

In addition, as Jane changed her name only by marriage, she is free to revert to her maiden name and so, as she has proved her identity, she can use either her birth name or former married name on her new NOIM.

IMMIGRATION LETTERS

Do you provide letters of support and a copy of the NOIM for Immigration and Visa application?

I am happy to provide a letter for your Immigration Agent or a local or international Department  of Immigration after I have received the completed NOIM and full payment.

A copy of the NOIM is not required for Australian immigration but a copy of a NOIM is issued, it is stamped as a ‘copy’ and parts may be redacted for privacy and security.

My ‘immigration letter’ is on my own letterhead showing that I am a Marriage Celebrant, authorised to solemnise marriages within Australian borders, and includes the following:

      • the date the NOIM was lodged,
      • full names of parties to the planned marriage
      • date and place of planned marriage
      • my availability to perform the Ceremony
      • confirmation of payment

I do not issue a letter until payment is made as this offers a small guarantee that the matter is genuine and reassures the departments of same.


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Do I need to get Public  Liability  Insurance For my Wedding or Family Events?

It may be wise to obtain insurance just in case someone is injured at your function, or damage is somehow caused by your function.

It is rare but the worst I have heard of was when a candle at a wedding was moved and it then set fire to decorations and then the building, causing millions of dollars of damage.

To be safe, you might check with your own household insurer in case your existing insurance package already includes cover but you may also wish to obtain specific insurance cover for your event as a precaution.

When you book for your event, especially if holding it in a National Park, you may be required to providea copy of an insurance certificate, for  Public  Liability for  $20 million, listing the Department of Planning  Industry and  Environment as an interested party.  Note that in National Parks, however for groups of less than 40 people, best to check with the local NSW National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) office if an application is still required as they have the discretional authority to waive the requirement and if they waive the application, the insurance requirement would also seem to be unnecessary.

I did a search and found at least one insurer that offers public & products liability insurance, for one-off events such as weddings and family celebrations.

I have no connection to the insurer and have not checked their reviews but found that you can apply for a quotation on their website – https://www.localcommunityinsurance.com.au/
I tested it and found that it is a relatively simple process that takes less than 5 minutes and provides a quote instantly.

Should you have any questions or queries please contact them direct. These are the contact details I was given via email:

Emma Window | Account Broker | Local Community Insurance Services |
Level 1, 148 Frome Street, Adelaide  SA 5000
LCIS:  1300 853 800 | t: +618 8235 6496
w: www.localcommunityinsurance.com.au
e: Emma.Window@jlta.com.au
e: insurance@lcis.com.au

Do you have liability and professional indemnity insurance?

As a financial member of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants, I hold both liability and professional indemnity insurance as well as Copyright Insurance.

INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF MARRIAGE

If I get married in Australia will my marriage be recognised in other countries?

Generally, Marriage in Australia is recognised by all 113 countries that are signatories to the Apostille Convention but an Apostille Seal from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), may be required.

The countries (states) are listed here

There may however be a complication in respect to recognition of your Marriages if you are of the same sex as marriage equality is currently (2018) only legal in 26 countries and so you should check with your country of residence as to legal status & recognition.

As of January 2018, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) fee for an Apostille and Authentication $81 but for up-to-date information on DFAT fees for an Apostille Seal, see the external link to DFAT: How much does it cost?

For more information, see:

INTERPRETERS

When should an interpreter be used?

Section 112 of the Marriage Act provides that where an authorised celebrant considers it desirable to do so, they may use the services of an interpreter in, or in connection with, a marriage ceremony. It is prudent for an authorised celebrant to use the services of an interpreter when any one person among the authorised celebrant, parties or witnesses do not understand the language in which the marriage ceremony will be conducted. This includes ceremonies conducted in a sign language, such as Auslan.

The interpreter must be a person other than a party to the marriage, and they must be able to meet the requirements set out in section 112 of the Marriage Act. It is the authorised celebrant’s responsibility to decide whether an interpreter is necessary.

Subsection 112(2) of the Marriage Act states that the authorised celebrant must not solemnise a marriage at which the services of an interpreter are to be used unless the authorised celebrant has received a statutory declaration by the interpreter stating that he or she understands, and is able to converse in, the language/s required.

Immediately after the ceremony the interpreter must give the authorised celebrant a certificate of the faithful performance of his or her services as interpreter. The certificate must be in the approved form.[1] The approved form for the certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter (formerly called the Form 24) is available on the department’s website.

The authorised celebrant must forward the statutory declaration and certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter to the appropriate registering authority with the registration copy of the marriage certificate.

Where can I find a list of interpreters and/or translators?

You will find a list of service under Interpreters on the Helpful links page. which is another tab my webpage

INTOXICATED OR STONED

What happens if a member of the Bridal/Wedding Party is drunk or stoned?

The marriage cannot proceed.

It is vital that an authorised celebrant is satisfied that both parties genuinely consent to the marriage. If at any point a celebrant is unsure of the genuine consent of either party, he or she should not proceed with solemnising the marriage.

An authorised celebrant might have been satisfied that a party was mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony before the ceremony was due to be conducted, but might form a different view as a result of the party’s conduct during the marriage ceremony itself. In such a case the authorised celebrant should not proceed to solemnise the marriage until satisfied that the party is mentally capable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony.

Other consent issues that arise on the day of the marriage ceremony can include, for example, duress or a party to the marriage who is drunk, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise appears to be in an altered mental state to an extent that this could impair their ability to consent to the marriage.

The same applies to the witnesses. A witness cannot sign if in an altered mental state to an extent that this could impair their ability to comprehend the ceremony.

INVALID MARRIAGES

What are the grounds on which a marriage may be declared invalid?

Subsection 23B(1) of the Marriage Act sets out the grounds on which a marriage may be invalid.

When an authorised celebrant is approached by a couple to solemnise a marriage, the authorised celebrant must be satisfied that the marriage will not invalid by reason of any of the following grounds, each of which is explored in detail in the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants – July 2014

They ground upon which a marriage may be invalid, are:

1/           either of the parties is, at the time of the marriage, lawfully married to some other person

o       A marriage is void where either of the parties is, at the time of the marriage, lawfully married to another person (paragraph 23B(1)(a) of the Marriage Act).

2/           the parties are within a prohibited relationship

  • A marriage is void where the parties are within a prohibited relationship (paragraph 23B(1)(b) of the Marriage Act).
  • Prohibited relationships are marriages:
      • between a person and an ancestor or descendant
      • an ancestor is someone from whom a person is descended (parent or grandparent)
      • a descendant is someone descended from the person (child/grandchild), or
      • between a person and their brother or sister (whether whole or half-blood).

3/           by reason of section 48 of the Marriage Act the marriage is not valid

O      Under section 48 of the Marriage Act a marriage solemnised otherwise than in accordance with sections 40-47 is not a valid marriage. A marriage may be invalid where:

        • the vows do not comply with section 45 of the Marriage Act, or
        • there is doubt that the marriage ceremony took place.

4/           the consent of either of the parties is not a real consent because it was obtained by duress or fraud, a party was mistaken as to the identity of the other party or as to the nature of the ceremony performed or that party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony,

o       Under section 23B of the Marriage Act a person’s consent to a marriage is not real if:

      • the consent is obtained by duress or fraud
      • one of the parties is mistaken as to:
        • the identity of the other party, or
        • the nature of the ceremony performed, or
      • a party is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage ceremony.

A determination of whether any of these grounds have rendered a marriage void is a matter for the Family Court.

5/            Either of the parties is not of marriageable age.

o       The marriageable age in Australia is 18 years for both males and females. (Section 11 of the Marriage Act) A person under the age of 16 cannot marry under any circumstances. Two people under the age of 18 cannot marry under any circumstances.

O      It is an offence for a person to solemnise, or purport to solemnise, a marriage if the person has reason to believe that one or both of the parties are not of marriageable age. The authorised celebrant must therefore carefully check the age of both parties from their birth certificates or extracts. It is also an offence for a person to go through a form of ceremony of marriage with a person who is not of marriageable age. (Section 95 of the Marriage Act)

O      For further information on offences, please refer to Part 11 of the Guidelines.

o       Where one of the parties to a marriage is not of marriageable age, the marriage is void unless the required orders and consents have been obtained

INVITATIONS

When should I send out my invitations?

Mailing the invitations about 2 ½ months before the wedding date and setting the RSVP deadline for 5 or 6 weeks before the big event is sensible.

Typically, your venue and caterers will want a head count one month before the event and so requesting RSVPs 5 – 6 weeks in advance gives you one or two weeks to finalise the guest list.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

What is the role of a JP?

Justices of the Peace (JPs) in NSW are volunteers appointed by the Governor of New South Wales. The primary roles of a JP are to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. JPs come from all sections of the community and are available across NSW.

      • statutory declaration is a written statement which a person declares to be true in the presence of an authorised witness.  Various organisations such as banks, insurance companies and superannuation providers often require information provided to them via a statutory declaration.
      • An affidavit is a written statement for use as evidence in court proceedings. A person making an affidavit must promise he or she is telling the truth in the presence of an authorised witness.
      • certified copy of an original document may be required by various organisations. This avoids the need of a person to submit original documentation such as a birth certificate or academic qualifications.

A JP is trusted to be honest and impartial when performing their functions. They cannot:

      • unreasonably refuse to provide JP services
      • charge you a fee or accept a gift for providing JP services
      • assist or write in a statutory declaration or affidavit
      • provide you with legal advice.

The following resources are available to learn more about the role of JPs:

What is a Justice of the Peace?

In NSW, Justices of the Peace (JPs) are volunteers appointed by the Governor of New South Wales.

The primary role of a NSW JP is to:

  • witness a person making a statutory declaration
  • witness a person making an affidavit
  • certify that a copy of an original document is a true and accurate copy.

In general, a JP is not authorised to perform functions under
Commonwealth, interstate, territory or overseas laws unless stipulated under a relevant law, however a NSW Justice of the Peace, may witness a statutory declaration that is made for use in:

  • NSW, or
    • any other Australian state or territory, or
    • the Commonwealth of Australia
    • provided that the statutory declaration is signed and
      witnessed in NSW.

Where can I find a Justice of the Peace?

Apart from being a Commonwealth Authorised (Registered) Celebrant, I am also a Justice of the Peace in NSW.

Justices of the Peace (JPs) are volunteers appointed by the Governor of New South Wales. The primary role of a JP is to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. JPs come from all sections of the community and are available across NSW

Details about other Justices of the Peace are available on the following state and territory government websites:

Justice Of The Peace -V- Notary Public: What is the difference?

A notary public is not the same as a Justice of the Peace (JP).

Justices of the Peace (JPs) are volunteers appointed by the Governor of New South Wales. The primary role of a JP is to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. JPs come from all sections of the community and are available across NSW.

In Australia, Public Notaries are appointed by the Supreme Court and must be a solicitor or barrister with at least five years’ standing; have completed the prescribed Notarial Practice course, which includes the implications of witnessing, certifying and authorising foreign legal documents; and have applied through the Legal Profession Admission Board. A  Notary may prepare, attest, witness and certify original and copied legal documents for use overseas, and so Notaries public are senior legal practitioners with specific authority to witness legal documents, usually with an official seal.

In Australia, a Notary may prepare, attest, witness and certify original and copied legal documents for use overseas.

KETUBAH

What is a Ketubah?

This answer is based on an article entitled: The Marriage Contract (Ketubah), written by Maurice Lamm. See: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/465168/jewish/The-Marriage-Contract-Ketubah.htm

According to Maurice Lamm, the ketubah is a unilateral agreement drawn by witnesses in accordance with Jewish civil law, in which they testify that the husband guarantees to his wife that he will meet certain minimum human and financial conditions of marriage, “as Jewish husbands are wont to do.”

It is not a ceremonial document of scripture or prayer. Thus is written in Aramaic, the technical legal language of Talmudic law, rather than in Hebrew, the language of the “Song of Songs.”

It is not an affirmation of perpetual love but a statement of law that provides the framework of love.

The ketubah restates the fundamental conditions that are imposed by the Torah upon the husband, such as providing his wife with food, clothing, and conjugal rights, which are inseparable from marriage. It includes the husband’s guarantees to pay a certain sum in the event of divorce, and inheritance rights obligatory upon his heirs in case he dies before his wife.

It is not a mutual agreement; the wife agrees only to accept the husband’s proposal of marriage. It is assuredly not a bill of sale; the man does not purchase the bride. In fact, the ketubah represents the witnesses rather than husband or wife. Through this instrument they attest to the groom’s actions, promises, and statements, and to the bride’s willing acceptance of the marriage proposal.

KISS

Is there an appropriate way to kiss at the ceremony?

You kiss whenever and however you want to, but just remember that all your guests including perhaps grandma, are watching and you of course don’t want to get arrested either, so be loving but not too sensual.

When do we kiss in the ceremony?

You kiss whenever you want to.

Traditionally the Kiss occurs just after the vows, since you will technically be married at that point.

However there is still the ‘signing’ (sign Certificates)  and few other bits and pieces to be enjoyed and so I usually suggest that to avoid confusion,  and to enable a smooth flow of ceremony, when the ceremony comes to an end, the kiss has more meaning at the very end when I introduce you as a married couple for the first time.

But again, it is your ceremony, so kiss whenever you like, though it is wise to remember that all your guests are watching 🙂

LAW & REGULATIONS

What law or regulations covers the solemnisation of marriages in Australia?

The Law regarding the solemnisation of marriages is  The Marriage Act 1961, as amended and the regulations forming a part of that Act are the Marriage Regulations 2017 (from 1/4/2018).

The Marriage Act 1961 is the law.

The Regulations prescribe the practice, procedures and penalties.

More information relating to questions on legal aspects of marriage can be found at these links:

 

 LIBATION CEREMONY

What is a Libation Ceremony?

The libation ceremony is a ritual of pouring a liquid as an offering to a spirit, deity, ancestors, or the soul of a person recently deceased. and inviting them to attend.

The chosen liquid is poured onto soil and so if the wedding is outdoors, the liquid is poured directly onto the Earth but if indoors, a potted plant or plants may be used, and the liquid may be poured into the four cardinal directions i.e. North, South, East and West.

At a function such as a wedding reception, the ritual would usually occur when spirits were being served and might be accompanied by a prayer, but at the wedding ceremony itself, it would usually occur at the start to honour the ancestors, lost loved ones, a deity, or even the Earth.

Different liquids have different meaning and so couples may chose the liquid to signify a theme they want to convey during the ceremony.

Water essential in life symbolising new beginnings, purity and sanctity of life
spirits regarded as a strong elixir, and so protecting and strengthening  life
Wine A compromise or bridge between water and spirits invoking friendship between the seen and unseen worlds or creating a camaraderie

 

Similar rituals have existed for centuries all over the world, including in Rome, Africa, Egypt, Israel, Greece, Asia, and South America but are particularly significant in African societies such as the Yoruba and Igbo cultures to whom ancestors are especially important.

Ref: https://www.brides.com/libation-ceremony-5079929#:~:text=The%20libation%20ceremony%20is%20a,milestone%20moments%2C%20such%20as%20weddings.&text=She%20has%20officiated%20several%20weddings%20that%20featured%20a%20libations%20ceremony.

LODGEMENT OF NOIM

see also: NOTICE OF INTENDED MARRIAGE (NOIM

Can we lodge a NOIM before obtaining a Change of Name Certificate?

Yes.

A party choosing to officially change their name, can they lodge a NOIM before obtaining a Change of Name Certificate, however, the original name will appear on the NOIM until such time as the Celebrant has sighted and recorded the name change certificate, prior to the marriage taking place.

You can lodge the NOIM but must record the name as shown on current proof of identity evidence.

In consideration of the one month’s minimum notice period for marriage, Parties should ask the relevant BDM how long the name change process will take.

The NOIM can later be amended once the Change of Name certificate is obtained, prior to the solemnisation of marriage. The alteration should be initialled by the party correcting the error and by the celebrant. The corrected notice may then be treated as having been given in its corrected form.

If the change of name is not obtained prior to the date of the marriage the original evidence of identity will be used on the marriage certificates.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Births Deaths & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful links page.

How do I lodge a NOIM?

A NOIM is the acronym for a Notice Of Intended Marriage.

It is lodged when you hand your signed and witnessed NOIM to a Celebrant and this can now be undertaken via video link with me, your Celebrant.

The NOIM must be signed and witnessed and then given to the authorised celebrant (Lodged) no earlier than 18 months before, and no later than one month before, the date of the marriage.

  • Simply completing a form online or entering data into a registry is NOT lodgement.
  • Handing or sending an unsigned/unwitnessed NOIM to a Celebrant is NOT a Lodgement.
  • Submitting Data without a signed/witnessed NOIM to a Registry of Births Deaths is NOT a lodgement

In 2022, the Celebrant can witness your signing the NOIM via audio/visual link (zoom, Facetime etc). It must then be scanned to the Celebrant who signs as witness to complete the lodgement process.

After the Marriage ceremony has taken place, the Celebrant must then sign the NOIM to attest to the marriage having taken place and then the Celebrant must submit it to the state Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages within 14 days for registration to occur.

LUCK

Why is it bad luck to see the bride the night before the wedding?

Marriages were not always about love but about property, business and alliances and so with an arranged marriage, the bride and groom may not meet or even see each other until the Ceremony. If a bride or a groom did not like what she/he saw, they might even run off.

So the tradition that it’s “bad luck” for a man to see his bride before the ceremony began but even then, the bridal veil or groom’s veil, might be used to cover the face until the end of marriage ceremony, ensuring the bride or groom could not run off without legal marriage.

MAIDEN NAME

I have been married before and want to marry using my maiden name without mention of my previous married name. Can I just use my maiden name?

Yes, provided you can prove that is your name.

Most people use the name that is recorded on their birth certificate so in most cases when completing the NOIM parties will write their name as it appears on your birth certificate.

Generally, the name on a person’s birth certificate should be recorded on the NOIM but the individual circumstance may need to examined.

Subsection 42(8) of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires authorised celebrants to establish the identities of the parties to a marriage. Accuracy in recording names helps ensure that everyone is satisfied as to the identity of persons intending to marry, and that they can prove that they are who they claim to be.

NB: Where there has been a previous marriage, the authorised celebrant will of course need to see evidence of the termination of that marriage e.g. divorce or death certificate.

When you marry in Australia, you can choose to use your married name but can continue to use your maiden name, and so it remains your name.

In regard to name use, a person in the questioned situation has choices:

    1. If you continued using your birth name during the prior marriage you should record this name on the NOIM.
    2. If you reverted to the name on your birth certificate after divorce or death of your spouse you may, record that name on the NOIM.
    3. If you changed your name as a result of the first marriage and have kept using that name then you may, use this name on the NOIM.
    4. If the birth certificate is to be used as evidence of name, the Authorised celebrants should ensure that the party writes their names exactly as it appears on the birth certificate. The spelling must be identical and all given names which appear on the birth certificate must be included on the NOIM.

Variation occurs in the following:

    • If you have changed your name from the name on your birth certificate by way of a BDM issued Change of Name Certificate, or Deed Poll (prior to BDMs starting to issue Change of Name Certificates from the late 1990s), you should write this name exactly as it appears on the change of name certificate or Deed Poll documentation on the NOIM.
    • If you changed your name by marriage and retained a previous spouse’s surname you may record that surname on the NOIM. The surname recorded should be exactly as it appears on the BDM-issued official marriage certificate, or Court-issued divorce certificate, for the party’s previous marriage. See the case study on the correct use of documents, and Part 4.3.8 of the Guidelines on The Marriage Act (Frequently Asked Questions – Names on Notices of Intended Marriage and on Marriage Certificates) for further assistance in such situations.
    • A person may record the name on your Australian Citizenship Certificate on the NOIM if the person also has photo identification in that name, such as a driver’s licence, proof of age card; an Australian or overseas passport.
    • Remember that Photo ID is also required but if that is in your previous married name, you just have to show the paper trail showing the change, marriage and divorce.

 

MARRIAGE CEREMONY IN AUSTRALIA

Can an Authorised Celebrant conduct my marriage ceremony in a foreign embassy in Australia?

I would suggest you get legal advice but my answer is Yes.

A person who is registered as an authorised marriage celebrant may solemnise marriages at any place in Australia.

Whilst embassies and consulates are protected as inviolable by international law (The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961)) and so have a variety of immunities and special governing rules, to the point that embassies are immune from intrusion, damage, or disturbance by the hosting country but the land they are built on is still not foreign territory.

The Convention stipulates that receiving states ultimately designate and recognize premises as being foreign diplomatic missions on their territory (articles. 22-28). And while the Convention does specify many inviolabilities and exemptions of such premises to allow its functioning as a diplomatic mission (articles 2 – 41), the receiving state may at any time withdraw the status of such premises (provided certain rules are followed regarding repatriation of officials, property, etc. (articles 41-46)

Ref:

Can I get an Australian Marriage if I have already been married in another country?

If you are already legally married, you cannot marry again in Australia until your previous marriage has been terminated.

To be legally married in Australia, a person must:

    • not be married to someone else
    • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
    • 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
    • use specific words during the ceremony
    • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

As your Celebrant, I will help you understand these requirements.

Do I have to be an Australian Citizen to get married in Australia?

No, you don’t have to be an Australian citizen or even a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. You just have to be in the country and satisfy eligibility.

Many people visit Australia on a Tourist Visa to marry in our beautiful country, and so do a fly-in/fly-out, ceremony and honeymoon.

I cannot offer immigration advice, but you will find information on Visas including a Marriage Visa, on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

    • To be legally married in Australia, a person must:
    • not be married to someone else
    • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
    • 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
    • use specific words during the ceremony
    • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

As your Celebrant, I will help you understand these requirements.

Is my marriage in Australia, valid?

Let’s go through a checklist to get some clarity.

If you can tick all of the boxes, there would seem to be no reason to doubt your marriage is valid:

  • You and your partner were eligible to be married under Australian law:
    • not be married to someone else
    • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or sibling
    • be at least eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old
    • understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying
    • use specific words during the ceremony
    • gave written notice of their intention to marry to their celebrant, within the required time frame.
  • Neither of you was coerced into marriage
  • You had a Registered Celebrant or a person you believed be a registered Celebrant
  • You completed a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) and after signing it before an authorised witness, gave it to the celebrant at least a month, but no more than 18 months, before the marriage
  • You provided proof of Date & Place Of Birth, as well as Proof of Identity to the Celebrant
  • You signed a Declaration of No Impediment to marriage prior to the ceremony
  • All of the information you provided forms is true
  • The supporting documents used as evidence, were true and legitimate
  • The ceremony took place within Australian borders
  • At the ceremony, you had two witnesses who were over 18
  • The Celebrant identified as being authorised to solemnise the marriage, at the Ceremony
  • The Celebrant gave a legal definition of Marriage in Australia during the ceremony
  • Your full names were used at least once during the Ceremony
  • You and your partner exchanged legal vows
  • You both believed you were married
  • You, the Celebrant and the two witnesses signed the Marriage certificates.
  • A Ceremonial Marriage Certificate, which is proof of marriage, was handed to you by the Celebrant
  • The Celebrant signed the NOIM to attest that the marriage had been solemnised

And for registration purposes, (but not validity) :

      • The Celebrant lodged the marriage documents with the relevant BDM within 14 days.

We have lived together for a while, so why should we bother getting married?

Quite apart from the obvious proclamation of love, that will strengthen your relationship, unlike DeFacto rights (or possible lack thereof), a marriage offers protections under the law.

Rights for a couple in a couple in a de-facto marriage are not the same as for a legally married couple as a DeFacto partner may not be recognised as the next-of-kin .

With a marriage, you are immediately the next-of-kin, and so, given protection under the law with regards to property, assets, inheritance, insurances, medical care and so much more.

If for instance there is a medical emergency and you are required to make decisions for your partner but another relative arrives, that relative may be identified as the next of kin instead of you and so is able override your decisions; or if your partner had been married before but not divorced, the ex-partner remains the legal next of kin and so in those same circumstances could be in charge of life & death decisions.

Then of course, what if someone dies? The next of kin has rights in regard to property, assets, inheritance, insurances, that may override that of a partner and a legal battle might result between partner and legal next-of-kin.

There was the horrible incident of a man in Adelaide whose parents did not approve of his relationship and had not spoken to him or his partner for 17 years. The man took seriously ill and the partner of some 18 years, phoned the estranged parents out of respect and concern. The parents soon after arrived at the hospital and as next of kin, enforced their authority, excluding the partner from medical decisions or even visiting the patient and upon the poor man’s subsequent death, also excluded the partner from the funeral and made no mention of the relationship at all in the eulogy. The couple had a home together but no Will and so the next of kin became the beneficiaries of the estate and subsequently attempted to evict the grieving partner from the jointly owned home and/or force a sale of the home even though it remained the grieving partner’s home.

What do I need to get married in Australia?

To be legally married in Australia, a person must:

    • not be married to someone else
    • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
    • 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
    • use specific words during the ceremony
    • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

As your Celebrant, I will help you understand these requirements.

MATRIMONIAL ARRAS / LAS ARRAS MATRIMONIALES

Ref:

Are There Different Styles of Las Arras?

In Spain and Latin America, las arras is made up of either:-

  • thirteen gold coins, or
  • thirteen silver plated coins or token or
  • twelve gold and one platinum wedding arras coins.

The coins often bear a depiction of Saint Rafael or San Rafael Arcangel and are presented in an ornate box or chest.

In the Philippines, however, las arras are generally held in an ornate basket or pouch.

For sets referred to as arras para boda, the collection of unity coins is made up of thirteen silver-plated coins.

Can you include a Matrimonial Arras / Las Arras Matrimoniales in our wedding ceremony?

Yes of course.

Although the Matrimonial Arras / Las Arras Matrimoniales has been a part of Catholic Hispanic marriage ceremonies for hundreds of years, it is not actually a religious rite and therefore can be conducted by a Civil Celebrant however, unless specifically requested, it may not have religious wording.

We can decide on the wording together.

 

How are the arras stored?

Matrimonial Arras are usually stored in an ornate box or chest which maybe jewelled, or covered in heart-shaped rhinestone.

This keepsake maybe later display in the marital home alongside the Bible used during their wedding mass and with other keepsakes such as a rosary or wedding lasso.

In what cultures is The Matrimonial Arras practiced?

The tradition of The Matrimonial Arras / Las Arras Matrimoniales, usually 13 coins, is practiced in is an element traditionally included in Catholic wedding ceremonies in Hispanic cultures including much of Latin America and in Spain and the Philippines.

What does arras or Matrimonial Arras actually mean?

Arras is a Spanish term meaning “earnest money” and Matrimonial Arras is the exchange of that “earnest money”¸ usually as 13 wedding coins or tokens.

It is a tradition of wishing prosperity for the couple in their married life and is symbolic of their unity,

It may also be referred to as las arras matrimoniales, arras de boda or arras para boda, but each refers to an exchange of wedding coins during the wedding ceremony.

The 13 coins carry multiple meanings; 12 of the coins represent Jesus’ 12 apostles and the importance of putting God first in their marriage.

The 12 coins also represent the 12 months of the year and prosperity for the newlyweds as they combine finances.

The last coin symbolizes overabundance and reminds the couple that they should always try to give back to the less fortunate if they’re blessed with more than they need.

What the origin of The Matrimonial Arras / Las Arras Matrimoniales?

This custom developed from the tradition of giving an arrabon, a Greek word for “pledge.” And so a “dowry” that represented the groom’s commitment and ability to care for the material needs of the home.

The word arras in Spanish means “earnest money”

Originally the thirteen coins were given by the groom, as mentioned above, to represent his promise to provide for this family and the bride’s acceptance,  or her also offering 13 coins represented the bride’s trust in the groom’s promise and care in the use of that provision.

As commonly couples in modern times each have an income, the bride offering the Arras can have the same meaning as that of the groom’s and so in each case, is a symbol of their equal commitment to their shared future and so Arras are also referred to as unity coins.

12 of the 13 coins represent the 12 apostles and the importance of putting God first in their marriage.

The 12 coins also represent the 12 months of the year and prosperity for the newlyweds as they combine finances.

The 13th coin symbolizes overabundance reminding the couple to be generous to the less fortunate if they’re blessed with more than they need.

Where and when did the Las Arras Matrimoniales begin?

Back when marriages were arranged between families of the bride and groom, wedding coins were provided as a dowry.

Around the 10th or 11th century Frank marriage ceremonies (this was before France existed as a country) generally included a ritual where thirteen pennies were exchanged while Spanish thought the giving of coins as the perfect gift.

The number of thirteen coins represented the twelve months of the year plus one coin that represented supporting the poor but may also symbolise Jesus and his twelve apostles.

What does an arras look like?

Arras are a coin or token that may be gold, silver plated coins or platinum wedding coins, often bearing a depiction of Saint Rafael or San Rafael Arcangel but can be coins from different countries and are presented in an ornate box or chest.

There are also coins especially minted for this purpose.

When does the Matrimonial Arras / Las Arras Matrimoniales within the wedding ceremony?

Typically the Matrimonial Arras / Las Arras Matrimoniales occurs after the blessing and exchange of wedding rings and like the rings, the priest blesses the coins before passing them to the couple.

Historically, the groom would offer the coins to the bride but now couples will often exchange the gold or silver wedding arras back and forth as a symbol of their shared commitment to providing for their future by making promises such as “all that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine.” But  many will personalise their promises.

What Happens During the Las Arras Ceremony?

In Filipino and Hispanic weddings, a arrhae-bearer or coin bearer, like the ring bearer, is included in the wedding procession and carries the pouch or chest containing the gold arras wedding coins so they can be exchanged during the wedding ceremony.

Who are the Los padrinos y madrinas?

Los padrinos y madrinas, are wedding sponsors.

They may be Godparents or may be marriage sponsors/Godparents chosen by the couple.

If chosen, they will be a couple who have been happily married for some time and who are able to offer advice and mentoring to the couple in their ceremony and marriage.

Who Buys Las Arras?

Las Arras, or wedding coins, are usually purchased by the couple’s wedding sponsors or Godparents or Los padrinos y madrinas, as a wedding gift to the couple.

The wedding sponsors may be a chosen couple who have been happily married for some time and who are therefore able to offer advice and mentorship to the couple in their ceremony and marriage.

There are a vast array of wedding arras box sets that might include an ornate gift box in addition to the thirteen wedding unity coins as part of the gift set.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE NOT FOUND

When I applied for a copy of my Marriage Certificate from the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages, record of my marriage could not be found and I am unable to locate the Ceremonial Certificate that was signed by us at the wedding and which was given to us by the celebrant after the ceremony, and so does this mean that my first marriage is not valid?

The question implies that all conditions for a legal marriage in Australia were met but that the record of registration of your marriage is missing from official record.

On that basis, it does appear that you are currently legally married but that the marriage records must be found so that the marriage can be registered.

The first thing you should do is contact the Registry, but it appears you have already done that.

The next thing is to contact your Celebrant who is required to keep record for 7 years.

The Celebrant should be able to provide you with the unique identification number of your Ceremonial Certificate (the one you were given) may need to resubmit the registration application.

Section 50 of the Marriage Act requires the celebrant to prepare and sign the following three marriage certificates for each marriage they solemnise:

      1. the official certificate of marriage, which is sent to the relevant BDM for registration purposes
      2. the second official certificate of marriage kept by the celebrant or the church, and
      3. the Form 15 certificate of marriage, which is given to the parties to the marriage

Each of these certificates is regarded as evidence of the marriage.

Subsection 45(3) of the Marriage Act states that a certificate of marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnised in accordance with that section.

 So if you can find your Form 15 certificate of marriage (the ceremonial certificate signed at your wedding), you will have proof of your marriage.

The celebrant is required to forward the Official Certificate Of Marriage to the BDM in the state or territory where the marriage was solemnised, within 14 days of the ceremony in accordance with Section 50 of the Marriage Act. Along with the certificate, the celebrant should also send”

      • the NOIM,
      • The signed & witnessed Declaration of No Impediment to marriage
      • any order under section 12 of the Marriage Act, and
      • any statutory declarations, consents and dispensations with consents relating to the marriage that are in their possession

The Form 15 or Ceremonial Certificate of marriage, is the certificate the celebrant must issue to the parties. It is not a document of identity, but it is evidence that a couple married and hence that their legal status has changed.

Celebrants must record the number of each Form 15 certificate of marriage issued, on a Record of Use form, and detail what has happened to the certificate (used, lost, damaged, destroyed, etc.) and the date on which that occurred.

Where the registration certificate of marriage (official certificate of marriage) is lost or destroyed, the registering authority may require the celebrant to prepare a certified copy of the second official certificate and send that to the registering authority as per Section 78 of the Marriage Regulations.

If the Form 15 certificate of marriage, (Ceremonial Certificate) is lost or destroyed, it cannot be replaced under any circumstances, but a report of its loss should be submitted to the relevant Registry so as to prevent fraudulent use of the certificate.

Marriages are registered in the state or territory in which they are solemnised, in accordance with the law of that state or territory. Copies of, and extracts from, entries in the register of marriages can be obtained from the registering authority in the state or territory in which the marriage is registered.

It is the responsibility of the celebrant, not the parties to the marriage, to forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage. Under no circumstances should the documents be given to any other person, including either or both of the parties to the marriage, to carry out this obligation. The obligation belongs to the celebrant only.

Serious consequences may arise for the celebrant and the couple if the celebrant does not forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage within the required time. Disciplinary measures, in the form of a caution, being required to undertake professional development, suspension or deregistration, could be taken against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who does not comply with their obligation to register a marriage. A minister of religion of a recognised denomination could be removed from the register of ministers of religion for failing to comply with this obligation as outlined in Section 33 of the Marriage Act.

Under section 48 of the Marriage Act a marriage solemnised otherwise than in accordance with sections 13, 42, 44 or 46 is not a valid marriage.

The loss of records itself does not invalidate a marriage but a marriage may be invalid where:

      • the vows do not comply with section 45 of the Marriage Act, or
      • there is doubt that the marriage ceremony took place.

There are a number of exceptions to section 48. (see Paragraphs 48(2)(a)-(f) of the Marriage Act)

 Section 88D Validity of marriages of the Marriage Act states:

             (1)  Subject to this section, a marriage to which this Part applies shall be recognised in Australia as valid.

             (2)  A marriage to which this Part applies shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) if:

                            (a)   either of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, a party to a marriage with some other person and the last‑mentioned marriage was, at that time, recognised in Australia as valid;

                            (b)   where one of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia—either of the parties was not of marriageable age within the meaning of Part II;

                             (c)   the parties are within a prohibited relationship within the meaning of section 23B; or

                            (d)   the consent of either of the parties was not a real consent for a reason set out in subparagraph 23B(1)(d)(i), (ii) or (iii).

             (3)  Where neither of the parties to a marriage to which this Part applies was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia, the marriage shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while either party is under the age of 16 years.

             (4)  A marriage solemnised in a foreign country, being a marriage to which this Part applies, shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while the marriage is voidable:

                            (a)   except in a case to which paragraph (b) applies—under the local law; or

                            (b)   if the marriage was solemnised in a foreign country by or in the presence of a diplomatic or consular officer of another foreign country—under the law of that other foreign country.

             (5)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this Part, where:

                            (a)   a marriage (in this subsection referred to as the initial marriage) has, whether before or after the commencement of this Part, been solemnised in a foreign country;

                            (b)   at the time of the solemnisation of the initial marriage, that marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid;

                             (c)   after the solemnisation of the initial marriage, and whether before or after the commencement of this Part, either party to that marriage entered into another marriage (in this subsection referred to as the subsequent marriage); and

                            (d)   at the time when the subsequent marriage was solemnised:

                              (i)  the subsequent marriage was recognised in Australia as valid; and

                             (ii)  the initial marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid; the initial marriage shall not be recognised at any time in Australia as valid.

MARRIAGE NOT REGISTERED

When I applied for a copy of my Marriage Certificate from the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages, record of my marriage could not be found and I am unable to locate the Ceremonial Certificate that was signed by us at the wedding and which was given to us by the celebrant after the ceremony, and so does this mean that my first marriage is not valid?

The question implies that all conditions for a legal marriage in Australia were met but that the record of registration of your marriage is missing from official record.

On that basis it does appear that you are currently legally married but that the marriage records must be found so that the marriage can be registered.

The first thing you should do is contact the Registry, but it appears you have already done that.

The next thing is to contact your Celebrant who is required to keep record for 7 years.

The Celebrant should be able to provide you with the unique identification number of your Ceremonial Certificate (the one you were given) may need to resubmit the registration application.

Section 50 of the Marriage Act requires the celebrant to prepare and sign the following three marriage certificates for each marriage they solemnise:

      1. the official certificate of marriage, which is sent to the relevant BDM for registration purposes
      2. the second official certificate of marriage kept by the celebrant or the church, and
      3. the Form 15 certificate of marriage, which is given to the parties to the marriage

Each of these certificates is regarded as evidence of the marriage.

Subsection 45(3) of the Marriage Act states that a certificate of marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnised in accordance with that section.

So if you can find your Form 15 certificate of marriage (the ceremonial certificate signed at your wedding), you will have proof of your marriage.

The celebrant is required to forward the Official Certificate Of Marriage to the BDM in the state or territory where the marriage was solemnised, within 14 days of the ceremony in accordance with Section 50 of the Marriage Act. Along with the certificate, the celebrant should also send:

    • the NOIM,
    • The signed & witnessed Declaration of No Impediment to marriage
    • any order under section 12 of the Marriage Act, and
    • any statutory declarations, consents and dispensations with consents relating to the marriage that are in their possession

The Form 15 or Ceremonial Certificate of marriage, is the certificate the celebrant must issue to the parties. It is not a document of identity, but it is evidence that a couple married and hence that their legal status has changed.

Celebrants must record the number of each Form 15 certificate of marriage issued, on a  Record of Use form and detail what has happens to the certificate (used, lost, damaged, destroyed etc) and the date on which that occurred.

Where the registration certificate of marriage (official certificate of marriage) is lost or destroyed, the registering authority may require the celebrant to prepare a certified copy of the second official certificate and send that to the registering authority as per Section 78 of the Marriage Regulations. 

If the Form 15 certificate of marriage, (Ceremonial Certificate) is lost or destroyed, it cannot be replaced under any circumstances, but a report of its loss should be submitted to the relevant Registry so as to prevent fraudulent use of the certificate.

Marriages are registered in the state or territory in which they are solemnised, in accordance with the law of that state or territory. Copies of, and extracts from, entries in the register of marriages can be obtained from the registering authority in the state or territory in which the marriage is registered.

It is the responsibility of the celebrant, not the parties to the marriage, to forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage. Under no circumstances should the documents be given to any other person, including either or both of the parties to the marriage, to carry out this obligation. The obligation belongs to the celebrant only.

Serious consequences may arise for the celebrant and the couple if the celebrant does not forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage within the required time. Disciplinary measures, in the form of a caution, being required to undertake professional development, suspension or deregistration, could be taken against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who does not comply with their obligation to register a marriage. A minister of religion of a recognised denomination could be removed from the register of ministers of religion for failing to comply with this obligation as outlined in Section 33 of the Marriage Act.

Under section 48 of the Marriage Act a marriage solemnised otherwise than in accordance with sections 13, 42, 44 or 46 is not a valid marriage.

The loss of records itself does not invalidate a marriage but a marriage may be invalid where:

      • the vows do not comply with section 45 of the Marriage Act, or
      • there is doubt that the marriage ceremony took place.

There are a number of exceptions to section 48. (see Paragraphs 48(2)(a)-(f) of the Marriage Act)

 Section 88D  Validity of marriages of the Marriage Act states:

             (1)  Subject to this section, a marriage to which this Part applies shall be recognised in Australia as valid.

             (2)  A marriage to which this Part applies shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) if:

                            (a)   either of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, a party to a marriage with some other person and the last‑mentioned marriage was, at that time, recognised in Australia as valid;

                            (b)   where one of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia—either of the parties was not of marriageable age within the meaning of Part II;

                             (c)   the parties are within a prohibited relationship within the meaning of section 23B; or

                            (d)   the consent of either of the parties was not a real consent for a reason set out in subparagraph 23B(1)(d)(i), (ii) or (iii).

             (3)  Where neither of the parties to a marriage to which this Part applies was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia, the marriage shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while either party is under the age of 16 years.

             (4)  A marriage solemnised in a foreign country, being a marriage to which this Part applies, shall not be recognised as valid in accordance with subsection (1) at any time while the marriage is voidable:

                            (a)   except in a case to which paragraph (b) applies—under the local law; or

                            (b)   if the marriage was solemnised in a foreign country by or in the presence of a diplomatic or consular officer of another foreign country—under the law of that other foreign country.

             (5)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this Part, where:

                            (a)   a marriage (in this subsection referred to as the initial marriage) has, whether before or after the commencement of this Part, been solemnised in a foreign country;

                            (b)   at the time of the solemnisation of the initial marriage, that marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid;

                             (c)   after the solemnisation of the initial marriage, and whether before or after the commencement of this Part, either party to that marriage entered into another marriage (in this subsection referred to as the subsequent marriage); and

                            (d)   at the time when the subsequent marriage was solemnised:

                              (i)  the subsequent marriage was recognised in Australia as valid; and

                         (ii)  the initial marriage was not recognised in Australia as valid; the initial marriage shall not be recognised at any time in Australia as valid.

MONITUM

Do you, as Celebrant, have to say the sentence containing the legal definition of marriage?

Yes; Under the Marriage Act, authorised celebrants are required to explain nature of marriage relationship:

(1) Subject to subsection (2), before a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion of a recognised denomination, the authorised celebrant shall say to the parties, in the presence of the witnesses, the words:

“I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.”

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.”

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”;

or words to that effect.

Subsection 46(1) of the Marriage Act sets out certain words—sometimes referred to as the ‘monitum’—that must be used by Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants and State and Territory Officers in solemnising a marriage. Subsection 46(1) provides:

All Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants solemnising civil or religious marriages are required to say these words. This includes Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants who were authorised before 1997, as any exemption from saying the words in subsection 46(1) no longer applies. State and Territory Officers are also required to say these words.

Only authorised celebrants who are ministers of religion for a recognised denomination are not required to say these words. Such ministers are not Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants.

What is the Monitum and why is it said?

The word ‘Monitum’ means caution or forewarning.

From 9th December 2017, the monitum the new/current Monitum, or warning about the importance of what is about to occur, by way of the definition of marriage, is to be said by the Celebrant:

I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.

Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

The history is that in Australia, before 2004, the Marriage Act 1961, required celebrants explain the legal nature of marriage to a couple as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”,

On 27th May 2004, the then federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 to incorporate a definition of marriage into the Marriage Act 1961, being:

 “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”

This definition is known as the Monitum.

That definition however changed with the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, which amended the Marriage Act 1961 to provide for marriage equality.

The right to marry in Australia is not determined by sex or gender.

The vows and monitum changed to reflect the new definition of marriage as:

‘Marriage is the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

Under current law, all authorised celebrants (other than ministers of religion belonging to a recognised denomination) are required to include a statement (the ‘monitum’) explaining the nature of the marriage relationship in all marriage ceremonies they perform (section 46 of the Marriage Act).

There is of course quite a difference between a minister of religion who is part of a religious institution and a religious marriage celebrant who is an authorised celebrant but who has elected, on religious grounds, to be registered as such.

Under section 47A of the Marriage Act, a religious marriage celebrant may refuse to solemnise a marriage if the celebrant’s religious beliefs do not allow the celebrant to solemnise the marriage but if a ceremony takes place, from 9 December 2017, all authorised marriage celebrants, including religious marriage celebrants, are nonetheless required to state the current legal definition of marriage as part of a marriage ceremony.

From 9 December 2017, the monitum changed to reflect the new/current definition of marriage:

I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.

Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

If an authorised Celebrant fails to solemnise a marriage in compliance with section 44, 45, 46 and 48 of the Marriage Act it may result in a void marriage (45 being the vows).

It is an offence under section 100 of the Marriage Act for a person to solemnise a marriage if they have reason to believe the marriage would be void.

So, put simply, if the current Monitum is not stated, the marriage may be void and the Celebrant open to prosecution.

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Why is using the wording in subsection 46(1) so important?

Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants and State and Territory Officers have a legal obligation to say the words in subsection 46(1). It is the statement of their authority to solemnise the marriage. It also explains marriage under Australian law. The safest course for Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants or State Officers in solemnising marriages is to always use the wording in the Marriage Act. Doing so will leave no room for doubt that the celebrant has complied with their obligations under the Marriage Act, and will ensure that parties are aware of the legal implications of marriage.

MUSIC, SONGS, & SOUND

What songs should I choose?

You will find a list of over 400 songs and ideas on my Wedding Songs tab

Is there a sound system with adequate speakers or will that need to be rented?

I will bring a portable PA system that I use for the Ceremony and in most instances, music can be played through that system, but depending on the size and style of the event, you may wish to provide your own.

I have a choice of:

      • Mipro MA708 (rated to be suitable for up to 1000 without auxiliary speaker)
      • Mipro MA707 (rated to be suitable for up to 800 without auxiliary speaker)
      • Mipro MA705 (rated to be suitable for up to 500 without auxiliary speaker))
      • MA705 auxiliary speaker
      • Bluetooth speaker for very small events

I can also combine the system to boost the sound.

Are there any musical instruments available for use?

I don’t provide any, but you can make arrangements yourself.

You might find what you need on other tabs on my webpage:

How many songs should we choose?

You will find more detailed information and ideas on my Wedding Songs tab

Most songs or piece of music, last for about 3 minutes but may not be played in full.

They are mood & memory makers but if a task, such as the bridal entrance or signing is completed before the music finishes, not all of the song or songs may be played.

Pre-wedding mood 5 songs on a loop 15 minutes
Entrance 1 song for Bridal/Wedding Party 3 minutes
Signing 2-4 6-12 minutes
Pronouncement 1 dramatic or exciting 3 minutes

Should I hire a band or a DJ?

A string quartet, single instrument, or vocalist, bagpipes or live bands can be fantastic, but it depends on your budget, style and tastes and how much dancing & singing there will be during or after the ceremony.

You could have live music for all or perhaps just the Ceremony and a DJ for the fun reception.

You will find more detailed information and ideas on my Wedding Songs tab

What songs should I choose?

You will find a list of over 400 songs and ideas on my Wedding Songs tab

Should we have live music or a DJ for our reception and do I need them for the Ceremony?

That is dependent entirely on your budget, style,  the ambient mood you want, your tastes (personal preferences) and any venue conditions e.g. if in a national park, amplified music may not be permitted.

So basically, it is your choice.

A string quartet, single instrument, or vocalist, bagpipes or live bands can be fantastic but maybe dependent on budget.

A good DJ can add a lot of fun and if you provide some guidance, will play the music of your choice, however the Celebrant, DJ and/or musicians can also offer you some valuable guidance as well.

Consider as well, how much music, dancing & singing there will be during or after the ceremony or at the reception.

You could have live-music such as a string quartet just for the Ceremony and a DJ or live band for the fun reception.

You will find more detailed information and ideas at these links:

NAME CHANGE

What if I don’t want to obtain a Change of Name certificate?

This relates to a party who does not wish to obtain a Change of Name certificate before marriage but wishes to use the name they have changed by usage alone.

The authorised celebrant should advise this person to think carefully about whether they may ever need identity documents, including a passport, in the future. It may be possible to formally change their name after the marriage, but the process may be more complicated for them.

The celebrant will therefore advise the party to check with the relevant State or Territory BDM.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

What reasons do people have to undertake a formal name change?

If married in Australia, a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s name.

However usually personal documentation, such as your driver’s licence and passport, can be changed to your married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate (Registration of Marriage Certificate) to the relevant authority.

Some people however have other reasons for a formal name change. Here are some examples:

    • To revert to a former name.
    • To merge names upon marriage (e.g. Martha Jones and Peter Smith might become Martha and Peter Smones).
    • To procure a passport in a married name before marriage in readiness for a honeymoon (e.g. Peter Smith in readiness to Martha Jones might change his name to Peter Jones and apply for a passport in that name)
    • To remove and unwanted first, middle or last name
    • To replace, update & enable all legal records to reflect the one name where different names might have been used in the past.
    • Protest or activism (e.g., John Jones o Jonah Saves Whales)
    • To distance oneself for a past.
    • To associated with a genre, hobby, passion, or accomplishment (e.g., old name Alan Peters, new name might be Aslan Jedi Knight or Alan Scifilover )
    • To receive an inheritance that is conditional on adopting the name of the deceased (this reason was once quite common in landowning families in the UK)
    • To replace an undesired name with a more desirable one (e.g. old surname Bumford, to Ford)
    • To dissociate from a former religion or to connect with a newly chosen one (e.g., Ahmed Mohamed to Maan Maat)
    • To dissociate from a famous or infamous person (e.g., many people named Hitler changed their name)
    • To identify with a famous or infamous person (Michael Jones to Michael Jackson)
    • To dissociate from a relative (some relatives of Adolf Hitler changed their surname).
    • To satisfy a Commercial sponsorship
    • To change to a fictional character’s name, (e.g. John Dick to Sherlock Holmes)
    • To make a name more positive, commercial or professional (e.g. a stage or professional name)
    • To change a birth name to one used in everyday life (e.g. remove an unused middle name  or abbreviate a first name)
    • To anglicise a name or choose a different name if to make it easier to spell or pronounce (e.g. Juzeff to Joe)
    • To coincide with a gender change  (e.g., old name Bruce Jenner, became Caitlyn Jenner)

How do I change my name in NSW after marriage?

If you were married in Australia, a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s name.

However usually personal documentation, such as your driver’s licence and passport, can be changed to your married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate (Registration of Marriage Certificate) to the relevant authority.

That Certificate is available from the BDM after the marriage is registered but may be ordered through me, as your Celebrant. Be aware that there is a fee for that additional Certificate.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

The links and information below, mostly relate to NSW.

You can apply by post, or in person for Change of Name, either Adult or Child; born in NSW or overseas. Please check the approval requirements for: Restricted persons

Change of Name

You can apply online, by post, or in person for a Change of Name for either an Adult or Child; born in NSW or overseas. Please check the approval requirements for:

The Registry records official changes of name for adults and children (under 18 years) which includes amending any part of a name. If a person alters their name or​​ uses an additional or other name with the intention to act fraudulently or with an intention to deceive or in any other way that contravenes the law, they may be subject to criminal proceedings.

Restricted persons

Approval requirements

Persons who are under the supervision of the Commissioner of Corrective Services, the Mental Health Review Tribunal, or the NSW Police Commissioner, must obtain approval from that authority before making an application. Making an application without approval is an offence under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995.

Persons restricted from changing their name in NSW

The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 restricts certain classes of persons from changing their name without the permission of a supervising authority. It also restricts people from making a change of name on behalf of a restricted person. Restricted persons are:

        • an inmate
        • a person on remand
        • a parolee
        • a periodic detainee
        • a person who is subject to a supervision order
        • a forensic patient, or
        • a correctional patient.

Exemptions to these restrictions are:

Persons who have been convicted of an offence under a law of the Commonwealth.

Persons who are the subject of a warrant under the Commonwealth Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 and are in a correctional centre pursuant to a punishment imposed under that Act.

Persons who are detainees within the meaning of the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958 and who are held in a correctional centre.

Persons who are in the keeping of a correctional officer under section 250 of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences Act) 1999.

Persons who are a former serious offender because of the commission or alleged commission of an offence under a law of the Commonwealth.

If unsure of your status contact:

LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529
(Monday to Friday 9am: 5pm, excluding public holidays).

Prisoners can call Prisoners Legal Service or LawAccess NSW on the Common
Auto Dial List (CADL) as a free call just press 11# (Legal Aid) and 2# (LawAccess).

Registration process

Effective 1 April 1996 the Registry assumed the administrative responsibility for registering all changes of name in NSW. All changes of name are registered in accordance with provisions contained in Part 5 of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995.

The Land Titles Office no longer registers Changes of Name, however they hold the records from 1875 to 1996 of Deed Poll or Instruments Evidencing Change of Name.

A person is legally able to change his or her name. If a person alters their name or uses an additional or other name with the intention to act fraudulently or with an intention to deceive or in any other way which contravenes the law, they may be subject to criminal proceedings.

A person may use a new name without any formal steps. At common law, a person will not actually change his or her name until the person has used and become known by the new name. Under the Registry’s legislation the name is changed once it is registered.

Occasions arise where a person will be asked to provide proof of change of name (for example as proof of identity or to obtain a passport). For these reasons a person may record their new name or alteration of their name by registering a Change of Name at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Changing your name after marriage

If you were married in Australia a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s name. Usually personal documentation, such as your driver’s license and passport, can be changed to your married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate.

Who can apply?

You are eligible to have your name changed in NSW if:

  • you are not a restricted person, and
  • your birth is registered in NSW, or
  • you were born overseas and have been resident in NSW for three consecutive years immediately prior to your application, or
  • your birth is not registered in NSW and a protection order has been made to protect you and/or your children from domestic violence.

Applications to register a change of name for a child (under 18 years) should be made by both parents. If both parents cannot make a joint application, please phone 13 77 88 to discuss your circumstances.

Change of Name interviews

To organise a Change of Name interview, phone 13 77 88 for an appointment. Alternatively, the Registry accepts applications by mail. For more information, please contact NSWBDM.

Fees

The NSW BDM fee of about $185 which includes the registration of the Change of Name and the issue of a Standard Certificate. You must return all of your original certificates with your application including any NSW Birth or NSW Change of Name Certificates and extracts.

A Child’s birth registration is amended to include the change of name. Parents’ names are not changed.

An Adult’s birth registration is amended to show details of previous names.

If the person was born overseas, only a Change of Name certificate can be issued.

Can I use my new name on the NOIM after a change by Deed Poll?

Yes.

Generally, a change of name by Deed Poll that was registered before the commencement of the Change of Name Certificate BDM process in the relevant State or Territory is still a valid change of name. If an authorised celebrant has any doubt as to the validity of a person’s Deed Poll documentation they should contact the relevant BDM for further guidance.

However, the authorised celebrant should advise the party they may encounter difficulties obtaining an Australian passport in their deed poll or married names.

Which name should be used if I have been going by a different name?

A party to a marriage tells an authorised celebrant that they changed their name by usage and have a driver’s licence and a Medicare card in that new name.

In this case the person should use the name on their birth certificate for legal documentation such as the NOIM and Marriage Certificates.

If they do not wish to do this, they can apply to the BDM in the State or Territory where they live or were born for a Change of Name certificate to be issued to reflect the name changed by usage.

Does this mean a person cannot change their name by usage? 

No, it does not mean this.  A person can change their name by usage. However, a name gained by common usage may be difficult to substantiate and many government agencies require a Change of Name certificate issued by a BDM as evidence of a person’s name.

How & Why would I change my name after marriage?

If you were married in Australia a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s name.

However, usually personal documentation, such as your driver’s license and passport, can be changed to your married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate (i.e. Registration of Marriage Certificate). That Certificate is available from the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM) after the marriage is registered but may be ordered through me, as your Celebrant. Be aware that there is a fee for that additional Certificate.

If you are choosing to take on a new name, you may even wish to include a Naming Ceremony for your children (though an official Change of Name, would still have to be lodged with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) – for more information on changing names, see NAME CHANGE IN NSW: How do I change my name in NSW after marriage?. )

For NSW, you can find detailed information at this link my webpage NAME CHANGE IN NSW: How do I change my name in NSW after marriage?

There you will also find links to the following at the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM):

Please check the approval requirements for: Restricted persons

Change of name requirements vary across state office of Births Death and Marriages (BDMs) and tis may have implications for a married person seeking identity documents following a marriage For example:

the ACT and Tasmanian  BDMs are unable to change the name on a registered marriage, or register a change of name, retrospectively.

A person registering a change of name after their marriage does not enable the ACT or Tasmanian BDMs to update their marriage register to the person’s new name, as the register reflects the person’s name at the time of the marriage.

In the ACT and Tasmania a change of name cannot be backdated to the date of the marriage.

Similar provisions may apply in other States and Territories.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

How do I change my name after marriage?

If you were married in Australia a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s name. That applies equally to all parties in a marriage.

However, usually personal documentation, such as your driver’s license and passport, can be changed to your married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate (i.e. Registration of Marriage Certificate).

Change of name requirements vary across state office of Births Death and Marriages (BDMs). For example, the ACT and Tasmanian  BDMs are unable to change the name on a registered marriage, or register a change of name, retrospectively (in the case of an error please refer to Part 6.10 of the Marriage Act Guidelines). A person registering a change of name after their marriage does not enable the ACT or Tasmanian BDMs to update their marriage register to the person’s new name, as the register reflects the person’s name at the time of the marriage. Similarly, in the ACT and Tasmania a change of name cannot be backdated to the date of the marriage. Similar provisions may apply in other States and Territories. This may have implications for a married person seeking identity documents following a marriage.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

I don’t want to apply for a Change of Name certificate under any circumstances. What goes on the NOIM and certificates?

If a person refuses to use the name stated on their birth certificate, and does not fall within one of the scenarios described in the previous question above for when another name may be recorded in the NOIM,, the celebrant should outline the possible difficulties they may face in the future when attempting to obtain an Australian passport, or possibly other identity documents, in the name they wish to use.

If the person insists this will never be an issue for them, they may list their preferred name on the NOIM.

The authorised celebrant should make a written record of this advice, and give a copy of it to the person. It may be prudent for the celebrant to include a copy of the advice with the documents sent to the BDM to register the marriage, as well as keeping the advice as part of their personal records. Some BDMs will scan the letter of advice and retain it as part of the marriage register.

What are my Name Changing Options?

You do not have to change your name. So let’s look at the options.

Keeping Your Own Last Name

If you decide to keep your own last name following marriage, you don’t need to change anything other than decide if you want to use the appellation from say Miss to Mrs.

Hyphenate or ‘Double Barrel’ Your Names

If want to take on your partner’s, but still wish to retain your original surname, you can always double barrel your names, adding your partner’s last name to yours with or without a hyphen.

It’s up to you which order you put the last names in, although traditionally, the original surname would go first e.g. Miss Jones marries Mr Brown might result in Mr Brown-Jones and/or Mrs Jones-Brown.

Making Your Maiden Name a Middle Name

Those who want to take on a new married name but still want to keep their original  family name can register a name change to include the original family name as a middle name.

Jennifer Louise Jones marrying John Arthur Brown could become Jennifer Louise Jones Brown and be known as Mrs Brown or John Arthur Brown could become John Arthur Brown Jones and be known as Mr Jones.

Merging Your Last Names

You could merge your names.

Jennifer Louise Jones marrying John Arthur Brown could become Jennifer Louise and John Arthur Jonown or Jennifer Louise & John Arthur Brones etc..

A formal name change would be required but could be undertaken before or after marriage.

Keeping Your Name Professionally

A name can be synonymous with your professional reputation or even a business name and so some people choose to retain their original name to avoid confusion and loss of business.

You can use your original name when working and your married name when not.

What is the difference between a change of name by Deed Poll and a Change of Name certificate?

Deed Poll:  Prior to the 1990′ a person wishing to formally change their name would lodge an instrument with the State Registrar of Deeds or Titles. This was called ‘changing your name by Deed Poll’.  In some States Deed Poll name changes have been transferred to the Register of Change of Names. and so People who have changed their name by Deed Poll should check with the Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM), in the State or Territory where the change was executed as to whether they need to obtain a Change of Name certificate.

Change of Name Certificate: Change of Name certificate procedures differ from Deed Poll procedures and both procedures vary between the States and Territories. The Deed Poll process has now largely been replaced throughout the States and Territories by Change of Name procedures under which a person applies to have a change of name registered with the State or Territory office of Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM).

Most States will only register a change of name for a person whose birth has been registered in that State or who has been resident there for a certain period of time.

You should check where and how to apply for the Change of Name certificate with your local BDM. Some may allow this to be done online.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful links page.

What is the history of How & Why would I change my name after marriage?

Historically in Australia, where a marriage was between a man and a woman, it was common for the woman to assume the man’s last name upon marriage.

That dates back even further to a time when women were regarded as the ‘property’ of their father and then upon marriage, of their spouse, hence the ‘giving away’ the Bride, by the father and anything they owned became the property of their husband.

Mistress  or Miss Jones marrying Mister or Mr Brown, became the ‘Mistress of Mr Brown’. The title ‘mistress of’. …  was abbreviated to ‘Mrs’ and so upon marriage, she became Mrs Brown.

Though women are no longer ‘property’ the tradition of the Bride taking on the Grooms name remains common.

Jumping to current and more enlightened times, if married in Australia a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s name and so Miss Jones and Mr Brown, can be Mrs & Mr Brown or Mrs & Mr Jones, but you will need to update the name change anywhere your original name is registered.

Usually this would include personal documentation, such as your driver’s license and passport, which can be changed to your married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate (i.e. Registration of Marriage Certificate) to the relevant authority.

Who do I have to Notify once I have changed my name?

If you change your name, you will need to make a list of everywhere your name is required and what evidence you need to produce. In most cases, it will be the Certificate of Marriage registration obtained from you Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM) referred to by BDMs as the Ordinary Certificate.

Although you receive a ceremonial certificate of marriage following your Ceremony, for licences, passports, insurances (including superannuation) and some lending bodies, you will require Ordinary Certificate issued.

You may need to provide a covering letter as well. I have prepared samples below.

Who to Notify List

  • Bank
  • Car & Household Insurers
  • Credit Card Companies
  • Employer/s
  • Gym
  • Local Council
  • Medical Providers e.g. Hospital, Doctor and Dentist
  • Mortgage Broker
  • Passport Office
  • Pension Providers
  • Roads & Maritime Services
  • School: Child’s School (emergency contact details)
  • School, College or University if attending
  • Taxation Office & Tax Agent
  • Utility & Energy Providers
  • (e.g. gas, electricity, internet, phone etc.)

Sample Notice Letter

New Name

Address

<Date>

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: change of name from <old name> to <new name>.

I write to formally notify you that I married on <wedding date>,

Or… I changed my name on <name change date>

Please amend and update your records accordingly to show my new name as I have commenced using my new name from the date of change.

Please find enclosed/attached a certified copy of the marriage/name change certificate in evidence of the change of name. That certified copy should be immediately returned to me.

Yours sincerely,

<Sign with your new name>

NAME IN CEREMONY

Do I have to say my full name?

NOIM forms and marriage certificates must have one full name for each party to the marriage.

This will assist couples, will help alleviate errors that can potentially arise from the confusion of having more than one name for one person on the documents and will help streamline electronic processing of the documents.

Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (other than ministers of religion), and State and Territory Officers, should use the parties’ full names at some stage during the ceremony, preferably early in the ceremony, for the purpose of legal identification of the parties. The full name of the parties will be the names recorded in the NOIM.

Where full names (as they appear in the NOIM) have been used earlier in the ceremony, it is not necessary for surnames to be used in the minimum vows. This is because the identity of the parties to the marriage has already been established. Couples may choose to use their first, or first and middle, names only.

Nicknames alone should not be used for the vows. However, shortened names or nicknames may be added to the names used in the vows. For example, ‘…I, Elizabeth Jane (Liz), take you, Peter John (Buddy)…’. Nicknames may be used elsewhere in the ceremony, on the condition that full legal names have been used earlier in the ceremony.

NAME ON CERTIFICATE OF AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP

What if a person tells an authorised celebrant there is an error in the name on their Certificate of Australian Citizenship?

The celebrant should advise the person to approach the Department of Immigration and Border Protection about having the error corrected. If this is not possible they will need to apply to the BDM in the State or Territory where they live for a Change of Name certificate to be issued to reflect the correct spelling of their name.

NAMES ON CERTIFICATE

My witness has ‘junior’ (jnr) after his name, can we put that on the certificates?

When completing the marriage certificates, the witnesses to the marriage you should record their names in full, including any middle names.

Whilst I don’t usually require the witnesses to provide identification, if the witness can show me an identification document that has Jnr following their name, such as a passport, birth certificate or drivers licence, I can then and record the name exactly as stated on the document to ensure it is accurate on your paperwork.

Is there anything a party can do to overcome the problems of using a different name from that on their birth certificate?

Yes.

They can apply to the BDM in the State or Territory where they were born or where they live for a Change of Name certificate to be issued to them to reflect the spelling of their name that they commonly use, or to reflect the given names they actually use.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

Note
: Change of Name certificate procedures vary between the States and Territories. Most States will only register a change of name for a person whose birth has been registered in that State or who has been resident there for a certain period of time.

They can then use the name on the Change of Name certificate on the NOIM, rather than the birth certificate name.

Do the names on all three marriage certificates need to be the same?

Yes. All three marriage certificates which the couple signs are evidence that the marriage took place.

The authorised celebrant must use the same name on all three marriage certificates, i.e. Form 15 certificate of marriage, the retained certificate and the official certificate of marriage (formerly the Form 16) (the certificate forwarded to BDM for registration of the marriage).

What names should be written (or printed) on the marriage certificates?

The names on the marriage certificates should be exactly the same as the names on the NOIM.

An authorised celebrant should always cross check the NOIM with the original documents from which those names were derived i.e. the birth certificates, marriage certificates or Change of Name certificates and not just rely on copying from the NOIM. If the celebrant copies from the NOIM they may repeat an error from the NOIM.

If the celebrant finds there is a mistake on the NOIM they should correct it. The authorised celebrant may permit the change to be made in his or her presence by either of the parties at any time before the marriage has been solemnised. The alteration should be initialled by the party correcting the error and by the celebrant. The corrected notice may then be treated as having been given in its corrected form.

NAMES ON NOIM

What if a person does not want all their given names on the NOIM?

For example, they have four given names on the birth certificate, and they have always only used two of those names.

They should use all four names on the NOIM. Authorised celebrants should tell the person that their name as it appears on their birth certificate and their name as it appears on the NOIM should be the same. Authorised celebrants should also tell the person that any discrepancy between their name as it appears on their birth certificate and their name as it appears on the marriage documents may mean that they will encounter problems if they wish to obtain an Australian passport in their married name.

What surname should I put on the NOIM if I have been married before but am divorced or my spouse has died.?

A person in this situation has a choice.

If they continued using their birth name during the prior marriage they should record this name on the NOIM.

If they reverted to the name on their birth certificate after divorce or death of their spouse they may record that name on the NOIM.

If they changed their name as a result of the first marriage and have kept using that name then they may use this name on the NOIM. The authorised celebrant will of course need to see evidence of the death of, or divorce from, the first spouse.

Which name should they use on the NOIM?

A party to a marriage has lived for many years with a stepfather and though not formally adopted has always used that stepfather’s surname.

In this case the party should use the name on their birth certificate. If they do not wish to do this, they can apply to the BDM in the State or Territory where they live or were born for a Change of Name certificate, to reflect the name as it has been changed by usage. They can then use this name on the NOIM.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.


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NOTARY PUBLIC

Can a foreign notary public witness a statutory declaration?

A notary (also known as a notary public or public notary) takes oaths, signs and witnesses documents for use within Australia. A notary also performs similar functions in respect of international documents.

If you are outside Australia, an Australian registered notary can witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. A notary public who does not have a connection to Australia cannot witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. A notary public must be appointed in Australia under their local state or territory legislation to be able to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations.

What is the difference between a Notary Public & Justice Of The Peace?

A Notary Public/Public Notary  is not the same as a Justice of the Peace (JP).

In Australia, Public Notaries are appointed by the Supreme Court and must be a solicitor or barrister with at least five years’ standing; have completed the prescribed Notarial Practice course, which includes the implications of witnessing, certifying and authorising foreign legal documents; and have applied through the Legal Profession Admission Board. A  Notary may prepare, attest, witness and certify original and copied legal documents for use overseas. Notaries public are senior legal practitioners with specific authority to witness legal documents, usually with an official seal, and so in Australia, a Notary may prepare, attest, witness and certify original and copied legal documents for use overseas.

Justices of the Peace (JPs) are volunteers appointed by the Governor of New South Wales. The primary role of a JP is to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. JPs come from all sections of the community and are available across NSW.

What is a notary public?

Notaries public are senior legal practitioners with specific authority to witness legal documents, usually with an official seal.

In Australia, Public Notaries are appointed by the Supreme Court and must be a solicitor or barrister with at least five years’ standing; have completed the prescribed Notarial Practice course, which includes the implications of witnessing, certifying and authorising foreign legal documents; and have applied through the Legal Profession Admission Board. A  Notary may prepare, attest, witness and certify original and copied legal documents for use overseas.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officers are not notaries public.

A Notary Public/Public Notary  is not the same as a Justice of the Peace (JP).

A list of Notaries Public can be found on Supreme Court or Law Society listings for each State or Territory or through other local legal channels.

You can also search in telephone directories using the search ‘Notary Public’ and your post code.

Alternatively use the Society of Notaries responsible for your state/territory as listed below:

Many professionals in Australia can witness signatures and certify copies of documents. For the purpose of legalising your document for use overseas, (i.e. through an authentication or apostille), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) cannot accept documents signed by these professionals. Only documents signed by Australian notaries public, or Australian consular or diplomatic officers overseas can be accepted.

Generally, Justices of the Peace (JP) cannot sign documents for DFAT legalisation purposes. The exception is documents from Western Australia signed by JPs who perform the function in relation to their role within a local court. DFAT also cannot accept documents signed by foreign notaries public.

When presenting multiple page documents for authentication or apostille, to DFAT, please ensure every page has been signed in full or the pages have been legally bound by an Australian notary public.

Where can I find a Notary Public in Australia?

Within Australia, most notarial services (including witnessing and certifying of documents) are provided by Australian Notaries Public.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officers are not notaries public, however, within Australia, as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)’s role as the local authority for a number of international conventions or arrangements, DFAT provide the following services:

  • issuing of Certificates of no Impediment to Marriage (CNI) (including witnessing the signature on the application form)
  • legalisation of signatures and/or seals that appear on Australian public documents (apostilles and authentications)

Legalisation requests can be lodged by mail to:

Melbourne

Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
GPO Box 2239
MELBOURNE VIC 3001​

Sydney

Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
GPO Box 2239
SYDNEY NSW 2001

Alternatively, legalisation requests can be lodged in person at Australian Passport Offices. Lodgement in person is by appointment only. You can make an appointment by phoning 1300 935 260.

DFAT cannot certify copies of documents or witness signatures. If you require these services, and your documents are intended for use overseas, you should contact an Australian notary public and arrange for them to witness the signature, or certify a copy of your document.

A list of notaries public can be found on Supreme Court or Law Society listings for each State or Territory or through other local legal channels.

You can also search in telephone directories using the search ‘Notary Public’ and your post code.

Alternatively use the Society of Notaries responsible for your state/territory as listed below:

Many professionals in Australia can witness signatures and certify copies of documents. For the purpose of legalising your document for use overseas, (i.e. through an authentication or apostille), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) cannot accept documents signed by these professionals. Only documents signed by Australian notaries public, or Australian consular or diplomatic officers overseas can be accepted.

Generally, Justices of the Peace (JP) cannot sign documents for DFAT legalisation purposes. The exception is, documents from Western Australia signed by JPs who perform the function in relation to their role within a local court. DFAT also cannot accept documents signed by foreign notaries public.

When presenting multiple page documents for authentication or apostille, to DFAT, please ensure every page has been signed in full or the pages have been legally bound by an Australian notary public.

Where can I find a notary public outside of Australia to witness my NOIM?

To find a Notary Public, try a web search and/or the phone listings in the area & country in which you are situated.

NOTICE OF INTENDED MARRIAGE (NOIM)

How do I lodge a NOIM?

A NOIM is the acronym for a Notice Of Intended Marriage.

It is lodged when you hand your signed and witnessed NOIM to a Celebrant and during 2022, this  can be undertaken via audio/visual link (zoom, skype etc.) in that the Celebrant can observe the couple signing in Australia following which the couple scan the signed NOIM to the Celebrant for witnessing and lodgement.

The NOIM must be signed and witnessed and then given to the authorised celebrant (Lodged) no earlier than 18 months before, and no later than one month before, the date of the marriage

      • Simply completing a form online or entering data into a registry is NOT a lodgement.
      • Handing or sending an unsigned/unwitnessed NOIM to a Celebrant is NOT a Lodgement.
      • Submitting Data without a signed/witnessed NOIM to a Registry of Births Deaths is NOT a lodgement

After the Marriage ceremony has taken place, the Celebrant must then sign the NOIM to attest to the marriage having taken place and then the Celebrnat must submit it to the state Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages within 14 days

How long is a NOIM current for?

A NOIM is the acronym for a Notice Of Intended Marriage.

Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires the parties to an intended marriage to give the authorised celebrant at least one month’s written notice prior to the solemnisation of the marriage.

The Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM) must be given to the authorised celebrant (Lodged) no earlier than 18 months before, and no later than one month before, the date of the marriage.

This means that the NOIM is valid for 18 months from the time of ‘Lodgement’ i.e. signed NOIM handed to the Celebrant.

A notice expires after 18 months, and a marriage may not be solemnised if the NOIM was received more than 18 months before the date of the proposed marriage.

If the NOIM is scheduled to expire for any reasons, prior to the marriage taking place, a new NOIM can be lodged, usually, one month before the expiry of the first, so that there is no break in the notice period.

 When we signed the NOIM, both of my parents were alive, but one of my parents has since died and our wedding has not yet occurred. Do we have to change/update the information on the NOIM ?

Firstly, given the circumstances, you may wish to include a memorial ritual or activity, into your Ceremony, to honour the deceased and to recognise the absence of a loved one.

See  Remembering.  

If the NOIM was signed prior to 1st September 2020, the answer to the questions though is Yes, an update to the form is required prior to the Ceremony. Changes can be made and initialed.

However, if the NOIM was signed on or after 1st September 2020, only their names, if known, and country of birth are required.

I don’t know the name of my father, and so can I just leave that blank on the NOIM, and do I really have to submit a Statutory Declaration explaining that?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act are clear as are the instructions on the NOIM, if you don’t know the name of a parent, you simply write ‘unknown’.

Under what circumstances will I have to submit a Statutory Declaration in support of my NOIM and marriage?

Where a party is unable to ascertain all of the particulars required in the NOIM after reasonable inquiry, they should write ‘unknown’ in the appropriate space/s and in order to make the NOIM effective, before the marriage is solemnised, they should also provide the authorised celebrant with:

  • a Statutory Declaration as to his or her inability to ascertain the particulars not included in the NOIM, and
  • the reasons for that inability,

Celebrants should not solemnise a marriage until a satisfactory statutory declaration is received.

At the ceremony, if an interpreter is present, it is the interpreter who must complete a Statutory Declaration on the back of the certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter.

What documents do we need to show, to complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM)?

You need to show to the Celebrant, the originals of:

4.4 Evidence Of Date And Place Of Birth

Each party to a marriage must give their authorised celebrant evidence of their date and place of birth before a marriage is solemnised. (see Paragraph 42(1)(b) of the Marriage Act).

The following documents only are acceptable as evidence of a party’s date and place of birth:

  • an official (original) certificate of birth, or an official extract of an entry in an official register showing the date and place of birth of the party, (Subparagraph 42(1)(b)(i) of the Marriage Act) or
  • a statutory declaration from the party or the party’s parent stating:
    • (see Subparagraph 42(1)(b)(ii) of the Marriage Act)  that it is impracticable (this does not mean not practical or convenient; it means impossible) to obtain an official birth certificate or extract, and the reasons why, and
    • to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born, or
  • a passport issued by the Australian government or a government of an overseas country showing the date and place of birth of the party. (see Subparagraphs 42(1)(b)(iii)&(iv) of the Marriage Act).

Why do we have Item 1 (Description of party) of the NOIM?

Item 1 of the NOIM includes three identifying options available to each party to a marriage:

        • partner, or
        • bride, or
        • groom

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

The information provided in Item 1 of the NOIM is used by state and territory registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) to register marriages and issue official marriage certificates and is procured for statistical information.

The Registrar is currently (2022) considering whether it is necessary to retain this item in the NOIM as part of the current review into marriage forms.

What documents can an authorised celebrant receive electronically?

A Celebrant can receive the following documents by fax (some people still have those), email, or scan:

  • The completed (signed & witnessed) Notice of Intended Marriage (Notice)
  • Original supporting documents – passport (scanned original), birth certificate (scanned original), divorce certificates (scanned original or certified copy).
  • A Commonwealth statutory declaration (scanned original signed in pen).
  • The signed NOIM, witnessed via audio/visual by the Celebrant

What is a NOIM or Notice Of Intended Marriage?

A NOIM is the acronym for a Notice Of Intended Marriage, sometimes referred to as the ‘Notice’.

Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires the parties to an intended marriage to give the authorised celebrant at least one month’s written notice, but no more than 18 months, prior to the solemnisation of the marriage. This notice is known as the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM).

That doesn’t mean you cannot book your Celebrant before that time; it just means the Notice must be ‘lodged’ in that time frame.

The NOIM must be signed and witnessed and then given to the authorised celebrant (Lodged) no earlier than 18 months before, and no later than one month before, the date of the marriage.

It is ‘lodged’ when you hand, your signed and witnessed NOIM to a Celebrant and this can be completed utilising audio/video link in that the Celebrant can observe the signing by the couple and then receive the signed form via scan or fax.

  • Simply completing a form online or entering data into a registry is NOT lodgement – it MUST be signed and witnessed.
  • Handing or sending an unsigned/unwitnessed NOIM to a Celebrant is NOT a Lodgement.
  • Submitting Data without a signed/witnessed NOIM to a Registry of Births Deaths is NOT a lodgement

After the Marriage ceremony has taken place, the Celebrant must then sign the NOIM to attest to the marriage having taken place and then the Celebrant must submit it to the state Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages within 14 days

The form of the NOIM has been approved by the Attorney-General and must contain the parties’ particulars as required in the approved form.

The NOIM must be given to the authorised celebrant no earlier than 18 months and no later than one month before the date of the marriage.  A notice expires after 18 months, and a marriage may not be solemnised if the NOIM was received more than 18 months before the date of the proposed marriage.

Where the NOIM is lodged with less than the required notice time a ‘Shortening Of Time’ may be applied for but strict conditions apply.

What names should parties write on the (NOIM) Notice Of Intended Marriage?

Most people use the name that is recorded on their birth certificate so in most cases when completing the NOIM parties will write their name as it appears on their birth certificate. Authorised celebrants should ensure that the parties write their names exactly as they appear on their birth certificates. The spelling must be identical and all given names which appear on the birth certificate must be included on the NOIM.

If a person has changed their name from the name on their birth certificate by way of a BDM issued Change of Name Certificate, or Deed Poll (prior to BDMs starting to issue Change of Name Certificates from the late 1990s), they should write this name exactly as it appears on the change of name certificate or Deed Poll documentation on the NOIM.

If a person has changed their name by marriage and retained a previous spouse’s surname they may record that surname on the NOIM. Authorised celebrants should ensure the party has written their surname exactly as it appears on the previous marriage certificate or Court‑issued Divorce Certificate.

A person may record the name on their Australian Citizenship Certificate on the NOIM if the person also has photo identification in that name, such as a driver’s licence, proof of age card; an Australian or overseas passport.

Who may witness a NOIM signed in Australia?

A NOIM signed in Australia must be signed in the presence of one of the following (See Subsection 42(2) of the Marriage Act ):

      • an authorised celebrant (can be witnessed via audio/visual link until the end of 2022)
      • a Commissioner for Declarations under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959
      • a justice of the peace
      • a barrister or solicitor
      • a legally qualified medical practitioner, or
      • a member of the Australian Federal Police or the police force of a State or Territory.

Please Note: 

      • the witness to each signature must add their credentials.
      • Pharmacists and Nurses are NOT authorised witnesses

Where one signature on the NOIM is provided less than one month before the marriage, then subsection 42(3) of the Marriage Act requires an authorised celebrant to witness this signature.

  • A person who proposes to witness the signature of a party to a NOIM in Australia must belong to one of the categories listed above.
  • The list is not the same as the list of persons before whom a Commonwealth statutory declaration may be made.
  • A Commissioner for Declarations is NOT the same as a person before whom a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration may be made – they are specifically appointed people who will have written evidence of their appointment.
  • Commissioners for Declarations are appointed under State and Territory laws. Only some States and Territories appoint Commissioners for Declarations. If the parties to the marriage wish to use a Commissioner for Declarations, the parties should check whether Commissioners exist in the jurisdiction in which they reside. The best way to do this is by contacting the relevant State or Territory government where the NOIM is to be witnessed.

Be aware that the form must be complete if witnessed by anyone other than your Celebrant as only the Celebrant can add information.

Who may witness a NOIM signed outside Australia?

A NOIM signed outside Australia must be signed in the presence of one of the following:

      • an Australian Diplomatic Officer
      • an Australian Consular Officer
      • a notary public
      • an employee of the Commonwealth authorised under paragraph 3(c) of the Consular Fees Act 1955, or
      • an employee of the Australian Trade Commission authorised under paragraph 3(d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955.

Please note: the witness to each signature MUST add their credentials.

You will find details of address, telephone and fax numbers for Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates and multilateral mission offices around the world at this link: Australian Consular Officer.

More information below:

Outlines the help that Australian citizens overseas who find themselves in trouble can expect from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade when seeking consular assistance.

Find details of address, telephone and fax numbers for Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates and multilateral mission offices around the world.

A list of foreign embassies, high commissions, consulates and international organisation offices in Australia. The lists give addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and hours of business of each mission.

Why do we have to be so careful about the name we put on the (NOIM) Notice Of Intended Marriage and on the Marriage Certificates?

Subsection 42(8) of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires authorised celebrants to establish the identities of the parties to a marriage. Accuracy in recording names helps ensure that everyone is satisfied as to the identity of persons intending to marry, and that they can prove that they are who they claim to be.

A major focus of all Australian Governments has been putting in place systems to deal with identity fraud. As an example of this, and as a result of amendments to the Passports Act 2005, the Australian Passport Office has developed rules which are strictly enforced concerning names on Australian passports. These rules are relevant to marrying couples as anyone wishing to apply for a passport in their married name will need to strictly adhere to these rules.

OBJECTION

Will you ask, “does anyone object…”?

I’ve seen that in American movies, but it is not a requirement under the Marriage Act 1961

OTHER WEDDINGS

Will there be any other events going on, on the day of our wedding?

As a rule, I prefer to only one booking per day and will only allow a second booking in the one day as a rare exception, and then only if several hours apart.

This however is not necessarily a rule adopted by venues where there may be several weddings only 30 or 100 metres apart, so I suggest you check with your venue. If they have more than one wedding or event, it may limit activity and/or impact on sound  and  micorphones frequencies.

OVERSEAS OR FOREIGN COUNTRIES

Are we legally married if we have already had a church wedding in South Korea but did not register the marriage?

I’ve looked into this and am told ‘unofficially’ by an embassy staffer that it is entirely the responsibility of the couple in Korea to register their marriage and so not the church or any other party.

Hence a couple could have a church or civil wedding but if they (the couple) do not register their marriage, they are not actually legally married, regardless of any ceremony.

Further, a couple could have no ceremony at all but still register their marriage to be legally married.

Authorised Celebrants in Australia are only permitted to solemnise a marriages in Australia that meets all criteria for a valid marriage. You cannot marry whilst married to another, and cannot marry someone to whom you are already married.

It would be an offence for an Authorised Celebrant to conduct a ceremony that could be invalid and an offence for a person to ‘marry’ if already married..

If you have had a marriage ceremony in South Korea, I strongly recommend you obtain a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, obtainable from the embassy, to be certain.

Can I divorce in Australia if married overseas?

Proper legal advice should always be obtained; however my understanding is that you may make an application for divorce in Australia if you or your spouse is:

  • an Australian Citizen;
  • “domiciled*” in; and
  • an ordinary resident of Australia and has lived in Australia for the last 12 months.

*“domiciled” means that you or your spouse regard Australia to be your home country.

A marriage certificate issued by an authorised body of an overseas country is evidence of marriage. An “authorised body” of an overseas country is an organisation that is authorised to perform marriages within that country for example, churches or other religious organisations. You must provide a copy of your marriage certificate with your application for divorce. If your marriage certificate is issued in a language other than English, you must provide an English translation of your marriage certificate.

In some (unusual) cases there may be two Courts, for example, the Family Court in Australia and a Family Court in another country that would have a right to determine the issue and annul a marriage. However, there can be in those circumstances a question as to which of the two countries has the superior right to deal with the divorce. In certain circumstances, there are different consequences in relation to the issues that arise in property, spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody depending on which country has the superior right and determines the matters on the breakdown of a marriage.

Do you provide letters of support and a copy of the NOIM for Immigration and Visa application?

I am happy to provide a letter for your Immigration Agent or a local or international Department  of Immigration after I have received the completed NOIM and full payment.

A copy of the NOIM is not required for Australian immigration but a copy of a NOIM is issued, it is stamped as a ‘copy’ and parts may be redacted for privacy and security.

My ‘immigration letter’ is on my own letterhead showing that I am a Marriage Celebrant, authorised to solemnise marriages within Australian borders, and includes the following:

      • the date the NOIM was lodged,
      • full names of parties to the planned marriage
      • date and place of planned marriage
      • my availability to perform the Ceremony
      • confirmation of payment

I do not issue a letter until payment is made as this offers a small guarantee that the matter is genuine and reassures the departments of same.

How can I get an authentication, apostille or CNI?

For up-to-date information, go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website via this external link-How can I get an authentication, apostille or Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI)?

You can also download from DFAT, and complete the document legalisation request form.

You then mail your document(s), document legalisation request form and a self-addressed return envelope to us at the postal address on form. If you are applying for a CNI you will also need to send the CNI application form and supporting documents with the document service request form above.

DFAT recommends that you send your document via registered post, include a self-addressed registered post envelope for its safe return and keep a copy of both tracking numbers. DFAT cannot take responsibility for documents lost in the mail.​

Lodging your form via mail

Melbourne
Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
GPO Box 2239
MELBOURNE VIC 3001

Sydney
Australian Passport Office Authentications Section
GPO Box 2239
SYDNEY NSW 2001

​Alternatively, legalisation requests can be lodged in person at Australian Passport Offices. Lodgement in person is by appointment only. You can make an appointment by phoning 1300 935 260. You may arrange for someone else to attend on your behalf.

How do I get a Certificate if I am an Australian Citizen, but I live overseas?

Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates can be ordered online from the relevant state registry however Birth, Death and Marriage Registrations for Australian citizens and their children born overseas can be lodged overseas at Australian Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates-General, Consulates, or other Australian or United Kingdom. Missions are controlled by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Requests for information about births, deaths and marriages registered at Australian overseas posts should be directed to:

Department of Immigration and Border Protection
PO Box 25
Belconnen ACT 2616

Tel: (02) 6264 1111

How do I get a copy of a Decree Absolute or Final Order from the UK?

Getting a copy of a decree absolute or final order depends on the information you have about the divorce, dissolution or annulment.

  1. If you know the case number and the court, it costs about £10. You just Send an email or letter to the courtand include:
    • your name and address
    • the case numbers
    • how you want to pay
  2. If you do not know the case number but know which court issued the decree absolute or final order, you can ask them to search their records. It costs about £45 to search a 10-year period.
  3. If however, you do not know which court to ask, you can ask the Central Family Court to search for the decree absolute or final order. To do that you must complete a form D440and send it to the address on the form. It costs £65 for each 10-year period that’s searched.

For more information, go to https://www.gov.uk/copy-decree-absolute-final-order

How does a couple lodge a Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM) if they are overseas or interstate?

Where the couple will be overseas or interstate until a time that is less than one month before the marriage, they may send a copy of the NOIM and supporting documents to the celebrant by post, (scanned) email, or fax.

It is not acceptable for a celebrant to witness/accept a Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM) from overseas via video conferencing.

It is recommended that couples send photocopies of their supporting documents with the NOIM when they post or email them from overseas or interstate. If there are any potential problems with, for example, divorce papers or death certificates, the celebrant will be able to advise the couple of this before they arrive for the marriage.

The celebrant will need to sight the original supporting documents relating to evidence of date and place of birth, identity and evidence of the end of a previous marriage (if relevant) prior to solemnising the marriage. This means the parties will need to bring these original documents with them when they meet the celebrant.

I am a Ukrainian Refugee, and I don’t have a birth certificate or passport as these were taken from me when I left Ukraine as a refugee over 30 years ago and I no longer have my original travel documents issued to me by Australia; only a drivers’ licence, so how do I prove my date of birth and identity?

Your driver’s licence can be used as your proof of identity but not proof of your date and place of birth.

The following documents only are acceptable as evidence of a party’s date and place of birth:

      • an official (original) certificate of birth, or an official extract of an entry in an official register showing the date and place of birth of the party, or
      • a statutory declaration from the party or the party’s parent stating:
      • it is impracticable (this does not mean, not practical or convenient; it means impossible) to obtain an official birth certificate or extract, and the reasons why, and
      • to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born, or
      • a passport issued by the Australian government or a government of an overseas country showing the date and place of birth of the party.

I would suggest you contact the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia, as there may now be records available.

Embassy of Ukraine in Australia

Chief: Kulinich Mykola
Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia
Level 12:1/60 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601
GPO Box 1567, Canberra, ACT, 2601.
http://australia.mfa.gov.ua/en
Phone: +61 2 6230 5789
Fax: +61 2 6230 7298
Email: emb_au@mfa.gov.ua

There is also an application form available for download from the Embassy website for persons seeking certificates.

If you are unable to obtain a birth certificate, you will need to include the evidence of your efforts in preparing a Statutory Declaration to attest to your identity and why you are unable to obtain record of your date and place of birth and/or a statutory declaration from the party’s parent stating (see Subparagraph 42(1)(b)(ii) of the Marriage Act)

  • it is impracticable (this does not mean, not practical or convenient; it means practically impossible) to obtain an official birth certificate or extract, and the reasons why, and
  • to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born, or

I am an Australian Citizen Or Resident Born Overseas, can I get my birth certificate from an Australian Registry?

Records of births and marriages which took place before a person migrated to Australia are not maintained by the Australian Government.

Where the person has been naturalised such details will usually be found on the application for naturalisation.

I was born in a refugee camp and don’t have a birth certificate or passport, and so how do I provide proof of my date and place of birth?

If a party does not have a birth certificate (for example, if a party was born in a refugee camp and did not receive a birth certificate) or passport, the party, or a parent of the party, may make and give to the celebrant a statutory declaration setting out the reasons why it is ‘impracticable’ (practically impossible) to obtain such a certificate or extract.

The declaration must also state, to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief, and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born (see Part 11.5 of these guidelines for further information on statutory declarations).

Commonwealth statutory declaration forms can be downloaded for free from the Attorney-General’s Department’s website and must be used for any Commonwealth statutory declarations relating to any marriage ceremony solemnised by a celebrant.

Any statutory declaration that must be completed in relation to a marriage must be provided on this form only or it is not a valid statutory declaration.

A statutory declaration form issued under state and territory legislation, or any other type of statutory declaration form is not acceptable for use under the Marriage Act.

If a person supplies a celebrant with a statutory declaration in relation to a marriage on a different form the celebrant must get another statutory declaration from them on the correct form.

Note that old blank statutory declaration forms purchased before November 2004 can no longer be used.

A person who intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence against the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (Cth) and is liable to four years imprisonment.

If a party to a marriage was born overseas and does not have an overseas birth certificate, what name should they put on the NOIM?

If the person does not have a birth certificate a celebrant will need to see a passport issued by the Australian government or a government of an overseas country as evidence of the person’s date and place of birth. If that is impracticable (practically impossible), the celebrant must require a Statutory Declaration executed under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 from the person to meet the requirements of section 42 of the Act relating to evidence of date and place of birth. The Commonwealth Statutory Declaration form is available on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website.

If the party is not an Australian citizen the party may use the name on their overseas passport on the NOIM.

If their name or date and place of birth are written in another language the celebrant should advise the party to provide the celebrant with a formal translation of the document so that the celebrant knows how the name should be written in English.

If the person, born overseas, is an Australian citizen, then the name as shown on their citizenship certificate may be used on the NOIM only if the person also has official photo identification in the same name as appears on their citizenship certificate:

  • such as a driver licence,
  • proof of age/photo card, or
  • an Australian or overseas passport.

Please note that in this case the celebrant would only be using the certificate of Australian citizenship to confirm the person’s name/identity, and not for the purpose of checking the person’s date and place of birth.

If I get married in Australia will my marriage be recognised in other countries?

Generally, Marriage in Australia is recognised by all 113 countries that are signatories to The Hague Convention on Celebration and Recognition of the Validity of Marriages.

The countries (states) are listed here

There may however be a complication in respect to recognition of your Marriages if you are of the same sex, as marriage equality by as late as 2022 was still only legal in 30 countries and so you should check with your country of residence as to legal status & recognition.

My overseas Birth Certificate does not have a registration number and so what will be recorded on my NOIM?

Where a birth certificate does not have a registration number (as is the case with some overseas birth certificates), the celebrant may record other identifying numbers on the NOIM, such as an identity number or document number. In this situation, the celebrant should amend the NOIM and send a covering note to the BDM explaining that the birth certificate does not have a registration number, and a document or identity number has been recorded instead.

What evidence of divorce must I produce if my divorce was granted overseas?

If a person was divorced overseas they must provide the authorised celebrant with divorce documentation from the country where the divorce was granted.

The Attorney-General’s Department is unable to verify the validity of foreign divorce documents or divorce procedures.

An authorised celebrant with concerns about overseas divorce documents should advise the party/parties to contact the relevant embassy or high commission to seek written confirmation that the documents provided are appropriate evidence of divorce in that country (noting that in some cases a person (most notably a refugee) may not be comfortable approaching the embassy or high commission of their country of origin to seek this confirmation). This confirmation should be provided to the authorised celebrant. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has contact details for foreign embassies and high commissions in Australia (see http://protocol.dfat.gov.au/Mission/list.rails).

If the authorised celebrant is still uncertain as to whether the evidence of divorce is sufficient, or the person does not get confirmation from their country of origin’s embassy or high commission, they should recommend to the party that they seek legal advice in relation to the power of the Family Court, under section 104 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), to make declarations as to the validity of an overseas annulment or a divorce. In some circumstances such a declaration that an overseas divorce is valid may be the only satisfactory evidence that a prior marriage has been dissolved.

Difficulties can arise if a person was divorced overseas and the records kept by the country where the divorce was granted have since been destroyed, or a party in Australia finds it impracticable to obtain records from overseas.

It is important for authorised celebrants to be aware that it is the responsibility of the party to the proposed marriage to satisfy the celebrant that they are free to marry. An authorised celebrant should ask the couple to provide legal advice supporting the validity of any overseas divorce if the celebrant is uncertain that the marriage has been dissolved. Celebrants should not solemnise a marriage if they are uncertain whether a prior marriage has been dissolved.

Statutory declarations are not acceptable evidence of divorce from a person’s former spouse.

Authorised celebrants should seek guidance from the department where a party to a proposed marriage was married in another country before he or she came to Australia and is unable to supply evidence of the end of a previous marriage. An example is a person who came to Australia as a refugee and may be unable to obtain evidence of the end of the previous marriage from the country in which they were previously married. The appropriate documentation needed in such instances will vary according to the particular situation.

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), a party to an overseas marriage can apply to the Family Court for a divorce in certain circumstances (e.g. after a period of residency). It is recommended that the party seek legal advice about this potential option.

What surname should be put on the NOIM if a party has been married before, but now divorced, or their spouse has died, and the first marriage took place overseas?

A person in this situation has a choice.

If they have continued using their birth name during the prior marriage they should record this name on the NOIM.

If they reverted to the name on their birth certificate after divorce or death of their spouse, they may record that name on the NOIM.

If they changed their name as a result of the first marriage and have kept using that name, then they may use this name on the NOIM. The authorised celebrant will of course need to see evidence of the death of, or divorce from, the first spouse.

When would I need a CNI?

This question is only relevant if you intend to marry overseas or if you divorced overseas but have no divorce papers though you want to marry here in Australia.

If that is your intention, you will need to check requirements within the chosen country.

Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI), may be required by the foreign government if marrying overseas.

You should check with the relevant Embassy or Consulate to establish if a CNI or additional Authentication or Apostille Seal is required.

If needed, you can download the application from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and complete the document legalisation request form.

If marrying in Australia however, a Certificate Of No Impediment To Marriage (CNI) is not a requirement unless you are using a CNI to prove a previous marriage had been terminated.

You will however still be required to complete a Declaration Of No Impediment To Marriage, if marrying in Australia.

I am registered as an Authorised Celebrant by the Australian Attorney General to conduct marriage ceremonies within Australian borders so that your marriage can be registered in Australia.

If you would like me to conduct your Ceremony offshore, the best option may be a ‘legals only’ ceremony within Australian borders, and then you will be free to celebrate the occasion with a celebratory ceremony offshore.

Where can I find a Notary Public outside of Australia?

To find a Notary Public, try a web search and/or the phone listings in the area & country in which you are situated.

For Europe try: https://notaries-directory.eu/

For the UK, try The Notaries Society: https://www.thenotariessociety.org.uk/

See also:

Who may witness a NOIM signed outside of Australia?

A NOIM signed outside Australia must be signed in the presence of one of the following:

      • an Australian Diplomatic Officer
      • an Australian Consular Officer
      • a notary public
      • an employee of the Commonwealth authorised under paragraph 3(c) of the Consular Fees Act 1955, or
      • an employee of the Australian Trade Commission authorised under paragraph 3(d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955.

Please note that the witness to each signature must add their credentials.

You will find details of address, telephone and fax numbers for Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates and multilateral mission offices around the world at this link: Australian Consular Officer.

More information below:

Outlines the help that Australian citizens overseas who find themselves in trouble can expect from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade when seeking consular assistance.

Find details of address, telephone and fax numbers for Australian embassies, high commissions, consulates and multilateral mission offices around the world.

See also:

Where one/both parties are underage, will their overseas marriage be recognised in Australia?

If neither party was domiciled in Australia at the time of the marriage, the marriage is not recognised in Australia as valid at any time while either party is under the age of 16 years. (see Subsection 88D(3) of the Marriage Act).

In this situation, when both parties reach the age of 16 years, the marriage will be recognised in Australia as valid provided there are no other circumstances that would invalidate the marriage such as such as the consent of either party not being real.

However, if one of the parties was domiciled in Australia at the time of the marriage, both parties must have been 18 years of age at the time of the marriage for it to be recognised in Australia as valid. (see Subsection 88D(2) of the Marriage Act)

As the word ‘domiciled’ has a particular legal meaning, celebrants should recommend that parties seek professional legal advice about whether a particular situation falls within the circumstances described above.

Do I need to take my Marriage Certificate with me if travelling overseas?

That may depends on where you are going and under what name.

The Marriage Certificate issued to you at your ceremony is Proof of marriage but is NOT Proof of Identity however your Passport is Proof of Identity, and most countries will rely on your Passport, rather than your Marriage certificate as such.

Serious problems may then arise in countries that have draconian laws relating to marriage and cohabitation as they may still prohibit cohabitation, even in a  hotel, if a couple’s marriage is not proven or recognised in their country.

This was evidenced when a couple honeymooned in the middle east only a few years ago and just after they checked into their room, Police arrived and because the female could not produce a Marriage Certificate, was arrested and despite the efforts of the Australian Embassy, was only released after 6 weeks when her Marriage certificate was produced, and marriage proven.

PARENTS’ NAMES

I don’t know the name of my father, and so can I just leave that blank on the NOIM, and do I really have to submit a Statutory Declaration explaining that?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act are clear. If you don’t know the name of a parent, you simply write ‘unknown’.

PARKING

Should I ensure a parking spaces is available for the celebrant?

Yes.

Most venues will provide a space for the Celebrant but please keep that in consideration> I do have a bit of equipment I need to unload and so do need vehicular access to the venue both before and after; and of course, it needs to be parked during the ceremony.

PASSPORT

Can an expired Passport be used as proof of identity and date of birth?

The short answer is general, YES, but there are some considerations.

An expired passport is acceptable as evidence of date and place of birth as well as identity, however, a cancelled passport is not acceptable. This is because a cancelled passport is a passport that has been reported as lost or stolen and is permanently cancelled by border control authorities in Australia or abroad.

If an overseas passport does not show the place of birth of the party, then it cannot be used as evidence of the party’s place of birth and the celebrant will request the party to produce either a birth certificate or statutory declaration as appropriate.

Note that if a celebrant is not satisfied as to a person’s identity because of the age or validity of documents presented, the Celebrnat may require that the couple provide alternate evidence.

For instance, an expired passport that belonged to a child may not be useful to determine the identity of an adult (even if it has been expired for less than ten years).

PETS – FURRY, FEATHERED OR SCALED FAMILY MEMBERS

Can I have my dog/horse/goat/snake/lizard/spider at my wedding?

Yes of course.

You will however be responsible for the health and welfare of that guest and of all others in attendance.

It is best to have a ‘butler’ or ‘carer’ for each non-human guest or participant and it important the Celebrant be acquainted with the special guest beforehand so that both are comfortable with each other.

How do I include my ‘pet (furry, feathered or scaled)’ family members in my Ceremony?

Including furry, feathered or scaled family members can be a great experience and depending on ability, the involvement is really left up to imagination.

The most common inclusion is to be an escort, ring bearer, usher, or guard.

Most can certainly dress up for the occasion.

If it is a horse, the bride and/or groom could arrive or depart in a carriage, or on its back if safe for the horse.

Large dogs can also pull carriages.

Arachnids and reptiles can be ring keepers as long as they don’t swallow the rings or bite or eat anyone).

With any such inclusion, just be certain that there is a ‘butler’ orcarer’ to look after their welfare so that you are not distracted, and that all, especially the special guest/s, is/are safe and well at all times. (crowds can be stressful)

TIPS:

    • Toilet beforehand and offer nothing to eat or drink just before the ceremony
    • Have a treat and water available as a reward once their part is done however the reward should be consumed away from the Bridal/Wedding Party to avoid any accidents.
    • Have a safe quiet place as a retreat so that there is no distress

PLANNING

Do you organise the complete wedding day including the photographer?

My job is to prepare and write the ceremony, satisfying legal requirements to ensure the marriage is valid.

I do not hire photographers for you as I am a Marriage Celebrant and an MC and so or I do work closely with your chosen photographer at the Ceremony, and at the Reception if you have hired me as MC.

I do however usually make a video recording (unattended camera on a tripod pointed at the centre area) of the ceremony and you will be presented with a copy of that video if available.

PLUS ONE

Do we need to invite plus ones?

No. However, if your budget and venue capacity allow for it, it is a nice gesture.

Celebrating your love and union can be even more enjoyable if guests have their own loved ones by their sides.


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POST-RECEPTION

What is the best way to store wine and champagne kept from the reception?

Cork is now becoming rare and often replaced by screw tops or plastic stoppers.

However, your wine bottle has an actual cork, the best way to store wine and champagne is at a slight tilt from horizontal with the cork down and give the bottle a quarter turn every month. This will keep the cork moist so that it doesn’t dry out and so keeps the wine sealed, and it ensures any sediment does not solidify at the bottom of the bottle.

The best temperature is between 10C and 15C. If the wine overheats or freezes, the flavour will be diminished or perhaps even destroyed even if returned to the correct temperature.

PRESCRIBED AUTHORITY

What is a Prescribed Authorities and where can I find one?

A prescribed authority is the body that may authorise a marriage to be solemnised despite the authorised celebrant receiving the Notice of Intention to Marry (NOIM) within one month of the date of the marriage, which is known as a shortening of time. The Attorney General’s department maintains a list of prescribed authorities.

PREVIOUS MARRIAGE

When will an authorised celebrant ask more questions of a party who has been previously married?

An authorised celebrant will ask more questions of a party or parties in the following circumstances:

  • no documentary evidence to support a claim that they are divorced from their former spouse or that their former spouse is dead, or
  • documents purporting to prove that a party is divorced or the former spouse is dead not being the original document, being illegible or not written in English.

My fiancé doesn’t know I have been married before, can you conceal that from him/her please?

No.

Whilst I must adhere to strict privacy rules:

  • both parties must sign the NOIM
  • both parties must sign  No Impediment to Marriage Declarations

Also, your failure to disclose can render the marriage invalid because, like any contract, parties there must be informed consent, and a failure to disclose information could place in doubt the validity of the marriage under section 23B of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), that is, that the person’s consent to the marriage may not be a real consent because it was obtained by duress or fraud.

Authorised celebrants are not permitted to participate in such ceremonies because there is no guarantee that the marriage will be valid and the Celebrant could then be prosecuted.

PRISON

Can I get married in a prison while in custody?

Yes, but there are complications and applications.

    1. The Prisoner needs to get Permission to Marry.
    2. The ‘fiancé’ will need to be given an official visitors number after clearance
    3. The Celebrant (Me) will need to be on the prisoners visitor list to visit and secure a  security clearance.
    4. Permission will also be required from the Operational Manager to have a space for the ceremony

For more details, see:

PROCESSION

How do we as a couple, enter the ceremony?

This is a common question but the answer lies in which tradition or traditions you wish to follow, if at all, or whether you wish to create your own.

There is a sample chart below but a bit more detail first.

Wedding traditions are mostly based on western culture and a history that came down mostly from the UK and then Europe, India, China and the Middle East.

Prior to the Marriage Act 1961 in Australia, most weddings were performed in churches, and according to the World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) there are over 33000 “Christian” denominations alone though the Australian government in 2022 recognises only around 134 of them, and each may have their own traditions.

So the tradition could come from anywhere in the world and be very different to what some might expect..

Generally though, in most western cultures, the most common tradition is:

  • One party and assistants walk in from the side and wait at the Ceremonial space with the Celebrant.
  • The other processes down the aisle behind a wedding party and is usually accompanied by a parent

There are a great many more options.

To begin with, if there are stairs for example, it is a good idea that those wearing high heels, be accompanied, for safety and appearances (you probably don’t want twisted ankles or people stumbling down the stairs), and so couples might enter together.

I have listed a few different processional order traditions below to give you some ideas but it is really up to your imagination:

  • sample Civil Ceremony
  • Christian
  • Hindu
  • Jewish

Music is almost always included as it enhances the entrance and so each entry person entering could have a separate tune, or just have the one tune for all:

  1. Pre-recorded music
  2. Live orchestra, band or a solo musician
  3. All join in a song
  4. Guests hum, applaud, play tambourines, drums, ring bells etc

Alternate Civil Ceremony order of entry

  1. All the Wedding Party enters in procession either singularly or in pairs, to be followed by either or both of the persons to be married
  2. The Couple walk in together
  3. One or each of you walks in unaccompanied
  4. One or each of you is escorted by a family member/s, or another loved one
  5. One or each of you is escorted by both parents
  6. One or each of you is escorted by your own children
  7. One or each of you is escorted by a young family member
  8. One or each of you is carried to the podium e.g. on a plank or chair, in a wheelbarrow, on shoulders, or on a stretcher (this can be dictated by your professions)
  9. One or each of you ride in on a motorbike, horse, donkey, camel, GoKart or pony drawn cart
  10. You enter accompanied by a furry family member e.g. cat, dog, horse etc
  11. The ring bearer could lead the entrance in a remote-controlled electric car or on a small pony
  12. All the guests could form an archway with raised arms, swords, spears, musical instruments etc.
  13. Parents enter first, followed by others
  14. If there is a trapdoor, you could rise from the floor or be lowered from the ceiling

​Civil Ceremony Sample

  1. Celebrant
    • Can either enter via the aisle or wait at the front
  2. Groom
    • either from the side or, walks or dances down the aisle.
  3. Best Man
  4. Follows the Groom
  5. Groomsmen
    • Follows the Best Man or accompanies the Bridesmaids
  6. Bridesmaids
    • according to position enter singularly, or
    • in pairs, or
    • with Groomsmen
  7. Maid/Matron of Honour
    • Enters alone
  8. Flower Girl(s) and/or Ring Bearer(s)
    • one after the other and then sit with parents
  9. Bride and/or the Bride’s Parents
    • The bride may be escorted by one or both parents or meet parents halfway.

Christian Wedding Processional Order

The bride’s family and guests sit on the left and the groom’s family and friends sit on the right, facing the altar.

  1. Bride’s Mother
    • The mother of the bride’s enters and sits on the first row.
  2. Groom
    • arrives from the side of the venue
  3. Best Man
    • arrives from the side, or follows the Groomsmen, and takes position next to the groom,
  4. Groomsmen
    • either enter in a line from the side following the Best Man, or process down the aisle, ahead of the Best man, one by one.
  5. Bridesmaids
    • process individually up the aisle and take positions on the Bride’s side
  6. Maid/Matron of Honour
    • after having assisted the Bride into position to prepare to enter, the Maid/Matron of Honour processes to her position ready to assist the Bride in the ceremonial area.
  7. Flower Girl(s) and Ring Bearer(s)
  8. Father of the Bride escorts the Bride

Jewish Wedding Processional Order

The bride’s family and guests sit on the right and the groom’s family and friends sit on the left, facing the altar.

  1. Rabbi and/or Cantor
    • stand at the altar under the chuppah
  2. Grandparents of the Bride
    • walk down the aisle first to be seated on the front row, on the right.
  3. The Grandparents of the Groom
    • walk down the aisle first to be seated on the front row, on the left
  4. The Groomsmen
    • The groomsmen walk down the aisle in pairs according to their positions on the altar
  5. The Best Man
    • walks solo after the groomsmen and takes a position to the right-hand of the groom.
  6. The Groom
    • walk down the aisle accompanied by his parents, with his father on the left and his mother to the right.
  7. Bridesmaids
    • proceed in pairs according to position on the altar
  8. Maid/Matron of Honour
    • enters via the aisle, alone to position.
  9. Ring Bearer(s)
  10. Flower Girl(s)
  11. Bride, escorted by her parents
    • father on the bride’s left arm and her mother on her right. Parents of both the bride and groom may stand under the chuppah with the couple if they wish.

Hindu Wedding Processional Order

      1. Groom, the Groom’s Family, and Friends
        • Enters on a white horse surrounded by family & friends who dance in celebration, to live music (in Baraat)
      2. Bride’s Family
        • The bride’s family who may feed the groom sweets and
        • exchange gifts or flower garlands with the groom’s parents.
        • They then proceed together to the Mandap, which is the traditional Hindu arch.
      3. The Bride & Bridal Party
        • The bride walks down the aisle with the rest of her family, wedding party, and friends who attempt to conceal her from the Groom.
        • upon reaching the Mandap, the Bride exchanges garlands with the groom
        • The couple, parents of the bride, and the priest then sit under the mandap to begin the ceremony.

What is the correct, traditional order of entrance?

This is a common question but the answer lies in which tradition or traditions the couple wishes to follow, if at all, or whether you wish to create your own.

There is a sample chart below but a bit more detail first.

Wedding traditions are mostly based on western culture and a history that came down mostly from the UK and then Europe, India, China and the Middle East.

Prior to the Marriage Act 1961 in Australia, most weddings were performed in churches, and according to the World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) there are over 33000 “Christian” denominations alone though the Australian government in 2022 recognises only around 134 of them, and each may have their own traditions.

So the tradition could come from anywhere in the world and be very different to what some might expect..

Generally though, in most western cultures, the most common tradition is:

  • One party and assistants walk in from the side and wait at the Ceremonial space with the Celebrant.
  • The other processes down the aisle behind a wedding party and is usually accompanied by a parent

There are a great many more options.

To begin with, if there are stairs for example, it is a good idea that those wearing high heels, be accompanied, for safety and appearances (you probably don’t want twisted ankles or people stumbling down the stairs), and so couples might enter together.

I have listed a few different processional order traditions below to give you some ideas but it is really up to your imagination:

  • sample Civil Ceremony
  • Christian
  • Hindu
  • Jewish

Music is almost always included as it enhances the entrance and so each entry person entering could have a separate tune, or just have the one tune for all:

  1. Pre-recorded music
  2. Live orchestra, band or a solo musician
  3. All join in a song
  4. Guests hum, applaud, play tambourines, drums, ring bells etc

Alternate Civil Ceremony order of entry

  1. All the Wedding Party enters in procession either singularly or in pairs, to be followed by either or both of the persons to be married
  2. The Couple walk in together
  3. One or each of you walks in unaccompanied
  4. One or each of you is escorted by a family member/s, or another loved one
  5. One or each of you is escorted by both parents
  6. One or each of you is escorted by your own children
  7. One or each of you is escorted by a young family member
  8. One or each of you is carried to the podium e.g. on a plank or chair, in a wheelbarrow, on shoulders, or on a stretcher (this can be dictated by your professions)
  9. One or each of you ride in on a motorbike, horse, donkey, camel, GoKart or pony drawn cart
  10. You enter accompanied by a furry family member e.g. cat, dog, horse etc
  11. The ring bearer could lead the entrance in a remote-controlled electric car or on a small pony
  12. All the guests could form an archway with raised arms, swords, spears, musical instruments etc.
  13. Parents enter first, followed by others
  14. If there is a trapdoor, you could rise from the floor or be lowered from the ceiling

​Civil Ceremony Sample

  1. Celebrant
    • Can either enter via the aisle or wait at the front
  2. Groom
    • either from the side or, walks or dances down the aisle.
  3. Best Man
  4. Follows the Groom
  5. Groomsmen
    • Follows the Best Man or accompanies the Bridesmaids
  6. Bridesmaids
    • according to position enter singularly, or
    • in pairs, or
    • with Groomsmen
  7. Maid/Matron of Honour
    • Enters alone
  8. Flower Girl(s) and/or Ring Bearer(s)
    • one after the other and then sit with parents
  9. Bride and/or the Bride’s Parents
    • The bride may be escorted by one or both parents or meet parents halfway.

Christian Wedding Processional Order

The bride’s family and guests sit on the left and the groom’s family and friends sit on the right, facing the altar.

  1. Bride’s Mother
    • The mother of the bride’s enters and sits on the first row.
  2. Groom
    • arrives from the side of the venue
  3. Best Man
    • arrives from the side, or follows the Groomsmen, and takes position next to the groom,
  4. Groomsmen
    • either enter in a line from the side following the Best Man, or process down the aisle, ahead of the Best man, one by one.
  5. Bridesmaids
    • process individually up the aisle and take positions on the Bride’s side
  6. Maid/Matron of Honour
    • after having assisted the Bride into position to prepare to enter, the Maid/Matron of Honour processes to her position ready to assist the Bride in the ceremonial area.
  7. Flower Girl(s) and Ring Bearer(s)
  8. Father of the Bride escorts the Bride

Jewish Wedding Processional Order

The bride’s family and guests sit on the right and the groom’s family and friends sit on the left, facing the altar.

  1. Rabbi and/or Cantor
    • stand at the altar under the chuppah
  2. Grandparents of the Bride
    • walk down the aisle first to be seated on the front row, on the right.
  3. The Grandparents of the Groom
    • walk down the aisle first to be seated on the front row, on the left
  4. The Groomsmen
    • The groomsmen walk down the aisle in pairs according to their positions on the altar
  5. The Best Man
    • walks solo after the groomsmen and takes a position to the right-hand of the groom.
  6. The Groom
    • walk down the aisle accompanied by his parents, with his father on the left and his mother to the right.
  7. Bridesmaids
    • proceed in pairs according to position on the altar
  8. Maid/Matron of Honour
    • enters via the aisle, alone to position.
  9. Ring Bearer(s)
  10. Flower Girl(s)
  11. Bride, escorted by her parents
    • father on the bride’s left arm and her mother on her right. Parents of both the bride and groom may stand under the chuppah with the couple if they wish.

Hindu Wedding Processional Order

      1. Groom, the Groom’s Family, and Friends
        • Enters on a white horse surrounded by family & friends who dance in celebration, to live music (in Baraat)
      2. Bride’s Family
        • The bride’s family who may feed the groom sweets and
        • exchange gifts or flower garlands with the groom’s parents.
        • They then proceed together to the Mandap, which is the traditional Hindu arch.
      3. The Bride & Bridal Party
        • The bride walks down the aisle with the rest of her family, wedding party, and friends who attempt to conceal her from the Groom.
        • upon reaching the Mandap, the Bride exchanges garlands with the groom
        • The couple, parents of the bride, and the priest then sit under the mandap to begin the ceremony.

PROHIBITED RELATIONSHIP

What are some examples of prohibited relationship situations that may arise?

The prohibited relationship requirements mean:

    • A man cannot marry his grandmother, mother, sister or half-sister, daughter or granddaughter.
    • A woman cannot marry her grandfather, father, brother or half-brother, son or grandson.
    • An uncle may marry his niece and an aunt may marry her nephew.
    • Cousins may marry each other.
    • Individuals who have lived together in the one family but were not adopted by the adults who raised them are not in a prohibited relationship.
    • Individuals who were adopted by the same adults but have never lived together are in a prohibited relationship. This includes cases where an adoption has been annulled, cancelled or discharged.

An authorised celebrant should exercise caution when a party to a proposed marriage refers to the couple being raised as stepbrothers and sisters, or refers to any family connection between them. In such a case the authorised celebrant should question them closely to ensure there is no prohibited relationship. This advice is intended to assist couples and is in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961.

PROOF OF IDENTITY

What proof of ID do I need to get married?

The Marriage Act & Guidelines are quite specific.

An authorised celebrant shall not solemnise a marriage unless satisfied that the parties are the parties referred to in the NOIM.

This requirement is separate from, and additional to, the requirement that each party to a marriage must give their authorised celebrant evidence of their date and place of birth before a marriage is solemnised.

An authorised celebrant should require each party to a marriage to provide at least one of the following documents with photo identification as evidence of their identity:

      • a driver’s licence
      • a proof of age/photo card
      • an Australian or overseas passport, or
      • a Certificate of Australian Citizenship along with another form of photographic evidence (such as a student card or other photo identification not listed above).

RAIN – see also WEATHER

Are rainy days good luck?

Many cultures and traditions regard rain on your wedding day as a Good Omen, after all there are 365 days in the year and so you have just 1 in 365 chances of rain.

I add some of these words if it rains on your special day:

Water is cleansing, washing away any challenges of the past and leaving only your future together.

It is a symbol of the new life, you are starting together,

Washing away all of the past and leaving only the fresh aroma of the new life that is your future

It signifies an expected longevity and strength of your marriage and a symbol of your unity, because, as you know, a knot that becomes wet is extremely hard to untie – therefore, when you “tie the knot” on a rainy day, your marriage will be even more difficult to unravel!

The falling of tears from heaven are a blessing and symbolise the last tears that you will shed in this union.

READINGS

Can I do the reading?

A reading is not compulsory but if you choose to have one or more, you choose who you want to read it. Just make sure you give me a copy so that we can fit it into the program and, so we can be certain that I’ll have a backup copy for the reader.

Reading before an audience is a skill and not everyone is capable of doing it successfully, so I like to meet the readers beforehand so that I can give them a few tips to strengthen the delivery and enhance the readers confidence.

You will find hundreds of reading on my webpage to choose from.

Whom do I choose to do the reading?

Look for someone with whom you have a personal connection as the sincerity of the reader will carry through.

The best voices are from people who have a pleasant tone, and speak & read easily however hearing a heartfelt reading from a loved one who has struggled to overcome shyness and stands proudly just for you, can be extremely rewarding as well.

Someone who slouches will sound muffled while someone who fidgets will distract.

A skilled male’s voices can be soothing and carry well but with amplification, a woman’s voice will carry just as well.

So, it is highly subjective and linked to your tastes. Which means it is entirely up to you, who reads.

Whomever you choose, I will give them some coaching beforehand offering a few tips and tricks.

Does there have to be a reading?

A reading is not compulsory at all, but it can set a theme and mood, enhancing the ceremony.

A well-thought-out reading, read by a skilled reader, can truly enhance the ceremony.

RECEPTION

How many canapes should you allow per person?

As a rule, allow 4-6 canapes per person. That way you’ve accounted for those guests who are on a 5:2 fast day, and also those guests who will hover by the kitchen door ready to hoover up everything that comes out. But it does depend on the time of day – if canapes are your starter, opt for a more generous 6/7 per person.

How many crackers per person for the cheeseboard?

Allow around 100g of cheese, and 4-5 crackers per person.

How many different glasses do we need?

Simplicity is always the best option.

      • champagne flutes for toasts,
      • wine glasses for wine,
      • tumblers for other drinks
      • cocktail glasses only if cocktails are available

How many glasses are in a bottle of champagne?

A standard bottle of champagne is 750ml. If you’re being generous, this will give six large glasses. But, if you’re only half filling glasses for a toast, you could stretch one bottle of champagne to fill eight flutes.

How many items of cutlery will we need?

That depends entirely on the number of courses and style of meal and so make that decision first, and then create a mock set-up. You rehearse you wedding ceremony, why not your meal.

Remember that when setting out cutlery, the cutlery for the first course is on the outside and you work inwards for each course, so the soup or entre cutlery on outside and dessert on the inside etc.

Once you know the right type of cutlery, and the right amount to be ordered, add about 10% extra of each item to allow for any extra needs such as second helpings or droppages.

How many serving staff do I need?

The number of serving staff you need depends on the type of meal you are having.

For a formal sit-down meal, you’ll need one member of staff per 10-12 guests.

If you’re having a more informal buffet reception, allow one waiter per 25 guests.

How many types of cocktail should we have?

Cocktail can actually reduce your alcohol cost as alcohol can be significantly extended with less expensive but flavoursome mixers such as crushed ice, juices and lemonades watered and so a creative cocktail menu, can be more budget-friendly than wine and spirits alone and of course creative cocktail names can also add a little fun. Having a non-alcoholic cocktail available also ensures inclusion and perhaps fewer headaches.

Where should we have our reception?

You will find a list of options on my Venues tab.


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RECORDS

How long do you keep records of our marriage?

Marriage celebrant’s record-keeping obligation includes retaining their copy of the official certificate of marriage for a period of six years from the date the marriage is solemnised. The Form 15 certificate record of use form must also be kept for a period of six years from the last entry on the form however these documents can be kept electronically and, as I lodge all my marriage registrations online within the required 14 days, and that process includes the submission of the signed official certificate of marriage, Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) or and Declaration of No Impediment to Marry (DNLI or DONLI) an exception applies.

Generally, under the marriage regulations, the official marriage certificate must be retained for a period of 6 years starting on the day after the day the marriage was solemnised however after that is submitted to the registering authority, there is no requirement under the marriage legislation for marriage celebrants to retain hard copies of the second official certificate of marriage (also signed at the Ceremony as is required), NOIM or DNLI or any supporting documents such as statutory declarations once these documents have been lodged online. Any other hardcopy documents, such as divorce orders and parental consents, are also not required to be kept once lodged online.

I may however retain a hard copy of my notes and/or the marriage ceremony and so if you would rather I destroyed any documents before the 6-year period, just let me know.

The direction from the Attorney generals Department is as follows:

    • Marriage celebrants can retain the second official certificate of marriage and Form 15 certificate record of use form electronically
    • Ministers of Religion may determine how their records are kept – electronically or hard copy
    • Hard copies of the Notice, DNLI or any supporting documents (divorce orders, parental consents etc.) do not need to be kept once lodged electronically with the registry of births, deaths and marriages (BDM)
    • Celebrants may wish to retain these documents until the marriage is registered
    • Two official certificates of marriage must still be prepared – one for registration (with the DNLI on the reverse side) and one for the authorised celebrant (they may retain this copy electronically)
    • Once registered with the BDM, the authorised celebrant may dispose of the BDM copy.

RECORDS

What date should an authorised celebrant record on the record keeping form, for the Form 15 (Ceremonial) certificate of marriage?

The date to be recorded is the date the authorised celebrant used the certificate in any way.

This includes:

  • completing the certificate and giving the certificate to a marrying couple at their wedding – in which case the authorised celebrant records the names of the parties to the wedding and the date it was given to them
  • if the certificate was spoiled and had to be destroyed – for example by spilling something on it – the authorised celebrant records that they destroyed it and why and the date on which it was destroyed, and
  • if the authorised celebrant provided the certificate to another celebrant – the authorised celebrant providing the certificate records the other celebrant’s name and registration number and the date on which it was provided to the other celebrant.

What is the purpose of authorised celebrants recording what happens to each Form 15 (Ceremonial) certificate of marriage issued to the Celebrant?

Authorised celebrants must ensure they have a complete record of what happens to each Form 15 (decorative) certificate of marriage issued to the Celebrant.

Each marriage certificate issued to an authorised celebrant and then to a couple after 1 September 2005 is traceable.

The supplier keeps a record of which numbers are supplied to each authorised celebrant and provides these to the Attorney General’s department.

The authorised celebrant keeps a record of what happens to each certificate and who it is given to.

This process ensures the authenticity of each certificate can be verified.

What records must an authorised celebrant keep?

Authorised celebrants record the same marriage rites for each marriage on both the NOIM and the Form 15 (Decorative Certificate) and Form 16 (for Registration and Celebrant Copy) marriage certificates but for what records does an authorised celebrant keep.

We find the information under section 6.5, on Pages 85 & 86, of the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants – July 2014.

The Records An Authorised Celebrant Must Keep For The Form 15 Marriage Certificate (Record Of Use Form)

Authorised celebrants must record:

      • the number of each Form 15 certificate of marriage they are issued with,
      • what happens to the certificate and
      • the date on which they use it.

There is a record keeping form supplied with each set of Form 15 (decorative) certificates of marriage that the Celebrant purchases, but the form can also be downloaded from the Attorney-General’s Department website.

Authorised celebrants must record the following details on the record keeping form:

      • their name and registration number
      • the serial number on the certificate
      • the date they used the certificate, and
      • how the certificate was used (see following section).

What should an authorised celebrant do if Form 15 (Ceremonial) certificates of marriage are lost or stolen?

If Form 15 certificates of marriage issued to an authorised celebrant are lost or stolen the authorised celebrant must do two things:

      1. record how many were lost or stolen – on the record keeping form if they still have it, and
      2. notify the department immediately.

RED CARPET

Do you provide an aisle runner provided?

Generally, no.

You are decorating and, so it is always best that you provide all the decorations.

However, I do have a 6-metre green runner that I can bring along if absolutely needed and may invest in a red runner in the future however it is your wedding and you are decorating and, so it is always best that you provide the decorations.

REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGE

How long will it take after the ceremony could I apply for my legal Marriage document?

Firstly, the certificate is only available from the state BDM, in which the Ceremony took place.

If it was in NSW, I, as your Celebrant, can order the NSW Certificate for you.

I find that it usually gets delivered to me within 2-5 working days by Registered Post but that is of course subject to NSW BDM processing time and Australia Post, delivery periods (had one take about 7 days).

There may however be delays for Interstate marriages as the marriage must be registered in the state in which the ceremony occurs, and so paper registration may be required.

You can of course apply for the certificate yourself, directly to the BDM and you will note that each BDM does apply a fee for issue of the certificate.

I charge a Handling & delivery fee of just $20.00 above the BDM fee

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

Where can I apply to get my certificates?

You can obtain a birth, death or marriage record from the registry in the state in which the event was originally recorded.

You will find links or contact details for the various State Registries of Birth Death & Marriages, and some International Registries, on my Helpful People tab, under Births, Deaths & Marriages.

How soon after my Wedding Ceremony, will it be registered and how soon after can I get my Certificate of Registration?

I will mention the legal requirements later in the answer but will firstly say that as I submit registrations online, the registration of marriage at the NSW BDM, usually takes place on the next business day. If the wedding takes place in the morning on a business day, there is the slim possibility of same day registration.

The Certificate of Registration, or Standard Marriage Certificate’ is available immediately following that registration.

A delay may occur in regard to Interstate marriages as the marriage must be registered in the state in which the ceremony occurs, and so a slower manual paper registration may possibly be required.

If I, as your Celebrant, order the NSW Certificate for you, I find that it usually gets delivered to me within 2-5 working days by Registered Post but that is of course subject to NSW BDM processing time and Australia Post, delivery periods (had one take about 7 days).

You can of course apply for the certificate yourself, directly to the NSW-BDM and you will note that NSW BDM does apply a fee to issue the certificate so if you want me to get it for you, that same fee will apply, as well as of course a small handling fee of $19 but I will then, usually, hand deliver it to you.

If it is urgently required, I can arrange to pick it up from Parramatta, but an additional handling fee may apply – just ask me.

Now, back to the first part of the question about how soon will the marriage be registered?

The Marriage Act, and its Guidelines for Celebrants are quite clear that the documents arising from the Wedding Ceremony must be submitted for registration within 14 days of the marriage. Here is an extract from the Guidelines:

7 REGISTERING THE MARRIAGE

Subsection 50(4) of Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires the authorised celebrant to forward the Form 16 official certificate of marriage and the NOIM (together with supporting documents) to the BDM in the State or Territory in which the marriage was solemnised within 14 days of the marriage being solemnised. Some states and territories allow these documents to be lodged online. Authorised celebrants should make enquiries with the relevant BDM about the availability of this option. Contact details for the BDMs can be found in Part 13 of these Guidelines.

Other necessary supporting documents that should also be sent to the relevant BDMs with the Form 16 certificate of marriage will depend on the circumstances of the marriage. Such documents may include any official translations of documents, copies of parental consents or court orders for an underage marriage, statutory declarations or the certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter (formerly called the Form 24). Note that BDMs have different practices as to what supporting documents are required. For example, WA BDM will usually receive any parental consents or court orders for an underage marriage, Certificates of Interpreter or statutory declarations but not other documents.

Marriages are then registered in the State or Territory in which they are solemnised, in accordance with the law of that State or Territory. Copies of, and extracts from, entries in the register of marriages can be obtained from the registering authority in the State or Territory in which the marriage is registered. Note that WA BDM does not issue extracts from the register of marriages.

It is the responsibility of the authorised celebrant, not the parties to the marriage, to forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage. Under no circumstances should the documents be given to any other person, including either or both of the parties to the marriage, to carry out this obligation. The obligation belongs to the authorised celebrant only.

Serious consequences may arise for the authorised celebrant and the couple if the authorised celebrant does not forward the documents to the BDM to register the marriage within the required time. Disciplinary measures, in the form of a caution, being required to undertake professional development, suspension or deregistration, could be taken against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who does not comply with their obligation to register a marriage. A minister of religion of a recognised denomination could be removed from the register of ministers of religion for failing to comply with this obligation. (ref:Section 33 of the Marriage Act)


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REGISTRY WEDDING

I am not certain where to marry and so what are the differences between a Marriage Celebrant, Registry Wedding and getting married in a Church?

There are many differences, and some similarities (as may be required by law) and so I have made a list of around 80 direct comparisons to simplify distinction.

It is a personal decision dependant on what your dream wedding consists of.

Choose a Civil Marriage Celebrant you want a unique personalised Ceremony with guidance through lots of easy choices.

If you are content to stand in a queue for an hour for a 10-minute service using a set script with essentially no choice of location other than a small room, than a Registry ceremony might be acceptable.

If you are devoutly religious, then a religious ceremony might suit you.

Here is my ‘generalised’ ready reckoner listing my interpretation of differences but if you have any questions, disagree with me on any point, or find an error, just let me know and I will explain the basis of my reasoning and/or make any corrections.

Item/Activity Celebrant Registry Church
1.          Requires one month’s notice under the law Yes Yes Yes
2.          You must provide proof of identity as well date/place of birth Yes Yes Yes
3.          You will be given a pamphlet to inform/remind you of what it means to be married. Yes Yes Yes
4.          Only 2 witnesses required for the signing of your Certificates Yes Yes Yes
5.          Only 2 witnesses required for the signing of your Certificates, but you can have any number sign another non-legal certificate Yes No Maybe
6.          The Ceremony is designed/written especially for you Yes No No
7.          The Celebrant will come to you for the NOIM Yes No No
8.          The Celebrant will come to you to plan your Ceremony Yes No No
9.          You can call the Celebrant any time of day Yes No No
10.      You will be offered variety in your Ceremony Yes No No
11.      You can choose your Ceremony content (beyond legals)? Yes No Limited
12.      Is entirely about your marriage Yes Yes No
13.      Can take place anywhere within Australia Yes No No
14.      Can take place anytime Yes No No
15.      Held at any venue/location of your choice such as in a garden, hall, restaurant, backyard, loungeroom etc.. Yes No Limited
16.      The ceremony can be at the same location as the reception Yes No No
17.      The ceremony can be a part of a reception or even a full day Celebration Yes No No
18.      Can include a variety of rituals from different cultures or religions Yes No No
19.      You must ‘say’ your legal Vows to each other Yes Yes No
20.      You can add your own personal Vows. Yes Maybe Maybe
21.      Will welcome Ministers of other denominations, or friends & family, to perform parts of the Ceremony Yes No Unlikely
22.      Can have lots of friends of all denominations as guests. Yes Small Space Limited
23.      The denomination of guests is irrelevant Yes Yes No
24.      Everyone can have a role in the ceremony regardless of numbers Yes No Maybe
25.      Can take place anywhere within Australian borders Yes No No
26.      You will be given the Celebrant’s mobile number and email for direct & personal contact Yes No Maybe
27.      Only one or two ceremonies performed in a single day Yes No No
28.      By choice, the couple usually face each other or the guests that they have invited. Yes Yes No
29.      Can marry regardless of age (but over 18), sex or sexual orientation, gender, religious belief, culture, race etc, Yes Yes Maybe
30.      Will permit marriage if you are unable to have children Yes Yes Maybe
31.      Will permit marriage if you are of the same sex /gender Yes Yes Probably No
32.      Will permit marriage if you are LGBTQI Yes Yes No
33.      Can have LGBTQI Bridal/Wedding Party Yes Yes Probably No
34.      Conducts marriages of people of the same sex/gender Yes Yes Maybe
35.      Can have almost any content, completely non-religious, religious, agnostic, pagan, or just be limited to basic legal words Yes No No
36.      Will provide freebie extras such as photos, video etc.. Yes No No
37.      Will work to your schedule, not theirs Yes No No
38.      Has almost no restrictions as long as laws are not broken Yes No No
39.      You choose your Celebrant Yes No Maybe
40.      The same Celebrant will be able to perform other ceremonies for family members when needed e.g. Anniversaries, Memorials, Namings and Funerals Yes No Yes
41.      You get a free copy of the Ceremony booklet Yes No No
42.      Allows you the option of including any music of choice Yes No No
43.      Can have any size Bridal/Wedding Party whatsoever Yes No No
44.      Your ceremony will commonly run for 20-40 minutes depending on inclusions of your choice Yes No Maybe
45.      You can hire the Celebrant to be your MC as well Yes No No
46.      Will I be in a queue behind others waiting for an identical Ceremony? No Yes Maybe
47.      Your ceremony will take only around 10 minutes Optional Yes No
48.      Follows a church doctrine Your Choice No Yes
49.      Will include the reading of religious or Biblical text Your Choice Maybe Yes
50.      Will include the reading of non-religious text Your Choice Maybe Maybe
51.      Couples face the altar/front Your Choice Maybe Yes
52.      Couple and guests join in prayer Your Choice No Yes
53.      Holy blessing Your Choice No Yes
54.      Family blessing Your Choice No Maybe by Choice
55.      Will not contradict or impinge upon religious context Your Choice Maybe Yes
56.      Will include religious context or content Your Choice No Yes
57.      Will have no religious content whatsoever. Your Choice Yes No
58.      Must include members of the religious congregation Your Choice No Yes
59.      The celebrant will wear vestments Maybe No Yes
60.      You are limited as to how many can attend No Yes No
61.      Can only take place within the state in which the Celebrant is registered. No Yes Yes
62.      Is a specifically a religious service/Sacrament No No Yes
63.      You can only call the Celebrant during business hours at an office No Yes Maybe
64.      May perform up to 30 ceremonies in a single day No Yes Maybe
65.      A specific common script is used No Yes Yes
66.      Is restricted to specific times of the day No Yes Yes
67.      You announce your vows by questions and answer only No No Yes
68.      Is conducted by a Minster of Religion (Clergy member) No No Yes
69.      You must be Baptised into the church (or similar ritual) No No Yes
70.      One or both in the couple must join the religion or Church No No Yes
71.      You wait in a queue at an appointed time No Yes Maybe
72.      Must take place inside their Church building No No Yes
73.      Must take place at a specific location/building No Yes Yes
74.      Must attend Marriage Preparation courses. No No Yes
75.      Must be of the same religious faith No No Usually
76.      Must attend religious service and/or classes No No Yes
77.      Requires permission of as Bishop, if to be married outside a Church building No No Maybe
78.      Requires your children to join a particular religion No No Yes
79.      Have to undergo other religious rituals (Sacraments) before marriage) No No Maybe
80.      Restricts what you can wear No Maybe Yes

REHEARSAL

Can I schedule a rehearsal & when can I schedule it?

I am quite adaptable and so a full rehearsal is often not required for small weddings but may be required if there are complicated rituals or a large Bridal/Wedding Party.

It is best to schedule the rehearsal about two weeks before the event so that there is time to make any necessary changes that might be revealed in the rehearsal.

Please note that if the Rehearsal runs for more than an hour, or requires extra travel, there may be an extra charge.

How many hours will we need the venue for the rehearsal?

Depending on the venue and Ceremony, a full rehearsal may not be necessary on site but if it is necessary, an hour should suffice.

RICE & CONFETTI

Are there any restrictions regarding rice, birdseed, confetti, bubbles or rose petal tossing?

Most venues no longer allow confetti or rice, but some will allow the far more attractive rose petals and, so you can set up a ‘petal bar’ or have someone hand out small bags of petals to guest on arrivals.

Alternatives are bubbles in which case you can hire a bubble machine or hand out bubble makers.

RING

How can I buy the perfect engagement ring?

According to Credit Donkey, there are 10 steps to buying the perfect engagement ring:

How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

That is a very personal decision and I’ll explain why.

The ‘Rule of Thumb’ created by a marketing campaign in the 1940s was that two months’ salary should be spent on the engagement ring and it certainly worked to boost the profits of jewellers but as the ring is more about emotional than income, other consideration should come to play.

The three major considerations should be:

      1. Your partner’s expectations
      2. Your Budget or ability to meet those expectations
      3. Your partners taste in style and jewellery

The goal is to find a balance between the three.

An interesting side consideration is that statistically, those who pay $thousands or even $millions have shorter marriages, so the higher the ring price, the shorter the marriage whereas marriages where under $5000 was spent on the ring, tend to be long lasting.

My summation on that is that where appearances are placed above the relationship, the relationship will get into trouble but if the love and devotion are stronger, the love will be lasting.

According to Credit Donkey, there are 10 steps to buying the perfect engagement ring:

So the best outcome is to buy a ring that you can afford but which is  to your tastes.

What are the 4Cs when it comes to diamonds?

Diamonds are graded by the 4 Cs which are:

Carat:          or weight, determines the size of the diamond.

Clarity:        The fewer flaws, the greater the value. If you cannot see flaws with the naked eye, it’s called an eye-clean diamond.

Colour:        A clear diamond is the rarest and has the highest grade of D. A yellow diamond will have the lowest grade of Z.

Cut:              The cut creates the sparkle and so impacts on the beauty of the diamond.

Another consideration is Shape,  not to be confused with ‘cut’ the shape identifies the overall appearance of the diamond, e.g. round, oval, teardrop etc. Round stones are the most common.

What meaning is attributed to the rings?

A wedding ring is traditionally made of gold or other precious metal. The precious metal is indicative of the preciousness of the love and relationship.

The unending circle of the ring is a symbol of eternity and so it is the promise of love of each other with fidelity for all time. Love never ends.

The hole is a symbol of a doorway to the future to be spent together.

Wearing the wedding bands throughout your lifetime is a reminder to you and to all, of your wedding day and the promises & vows made.

The public display of the rings tells all others of this commitment of love, faith and fidelity  made.

So the exchange of rings is true symbol of love, commitment and fidelity.

Where did the tradition of diamond engagement rings and gold wedding bands come from?

The tradition of exchanging wedding rings goes back as far as 4,800 years to ancient Egypt, but the rings were made of braided papyrus and reeds.

The Romans were the first to exchange jewellery, but they exchanged iron rings as a sign of devotion and a claim of ownership as It also transferred the ownership of the daughter from the father to the new husband. They did however have gold rings worn for special occasions

The engagement ring was a sign of a marriage contract between two people, but the first diamond engagement ring ever used was not until 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria asked Mary of Burgundy to marry him. The diamonds were in the shape of an “M” and were very thin and delicate. Back then, diamonds were expensive even for European aristocrats.

It was not however until around 1938 and through the 1940s, that the diamond cartel, de Beers, which controlled the diamond market, launched a very successful advertising campaign equating diamonds to love. The ‘Diamonds are forever’ slogan suggesting everlasting commitment and love, still remains. The theme of their advertising was:

      • Diamonds were the only way to show your love to a woman.
      • A woman measured a man’s love based on the diamond size.
      • Anyone who was anyone in life must have a diamond on their finger, just like the celebrities.

This campaign is attributed to giving birth to the modern diamond engagement ring phenomenon.

(ref: https://www.creditdonkey.com/history-engagement-ring.html)

Why is an engagement ring so important?

A diamond engagement ring is a symbol of your love. It shows that you are committed to the relationship. The ring is a special gift just for her and the expense shows that you’re invested in your future together.

(ref: https://www.creditdonkey.com/history-engagement-ring.html)

SAME SEX MARRIAGE/MARRIAGE OF PEOPLE OF SAME SEX OR GENDER

Can we marry if my fiancé is female and I was born as a female, but after gender reassignment, am now a male?

Yes, as long as you are otherwise eligible for marriage, and by the way, I prefer the simple term ‘Marriage’

To be legally married in Australia, a person must:

  • not be married to someone else
  • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
  • 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
  • use specific words during the ceremony
  • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

As your Celebrant, I will help you understand these requirements.

Following the amendment to the Marriage Act on 7th December 2017, sex is not a determining factor in eligibility for marriage and so marriage in Australia is defined as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

Can we marry if my fiancé is female, as am I?

Yes, as long as you are otherwise eligible for marriage.

Following the amendment to the Marriage Act on 7th December 2017, sex is not a determining factor in eligibility for marriage and so marriage in Australia is defined as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

The right to marry under Australian law is not determined by sex or gender.

It is legal for same-sex couples to marry in Australia.

To be legally married in Australia, a person must:

  • not be married to someone else
  • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
  • 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
  • use specific words during the ceremony
  • give written notice of their intention to marry to your authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

As your Celebrant, I will help you understand these requirements.

The usual requirements around giving a Notice of Intended Marriage continue to apply; the NOIM must be given at least one month prior to the wedding ceremony, unless a shortening of time has been obtained from a prescribed authority.

Can we marry if my fiancé is male, as am I?

Yes, as long as you are otherwise eligible for marriage.

To be legally married in Australia, a person must:

      • not be married to someone else
      • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
      • 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
      • use specific words during the ceremony
      • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

As your Celebrant, I will help you understand these requirements.

Following the amendment to the Marriage Act on 7th December 2017, sex is not a determining factor in eligibility for marriage and so marriage in Australia is defined as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

The usual requirements around giving a Notice of Intended Marriage continue to apply; the NOIM must be given at least one month prior to the wedding ceremony, unless a shortening of time has been obtained from a prescribed authority.

My fiancé and I are the same gender; when can we marry?

You must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) at least one month, and no more than 18 months, prior to the wedding ceremony, unless a shortening of time has been obtained from a Prescribed Authority.

To be legally married in Australia, a person must:

      • not be married to someone else
      • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
      • 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
      • use specific words during the ceremony
      • give written notice of their intention to marry to your authorised celebrant, within the required time frame (not more than 18 months before and not less than 1 months before).

What if a person changes their gender identity on the day the marriage is to be solemnised?

Just make sure you inform the Celebrant before the Ceremony so that any necessary changes to legal documents can be made.

According to the Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, the Australian Government recognises that individuals may identify and be recognised within the community as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female, so it is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

Marriage celebrants may choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence. As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for date and place of birth, evidence of identity of the parties; and if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

A celebrant may permit changes to the NOIM at any time before the marriage has been solemnised. The alteration should be initialled by the party changing the information and by the celebrant.

The NOIM however, may not be changed after the marriage has been solemnised.

If there is a difference in recorded gender in the NOIM and the marriage certificate after a marriage has been solemnised, the celebrant may, when registering the marriage, include a covering note explaining the change to the BDM when registering the marriage.

You will find more information at this link:

https://www.ag.gov.au/Publications/Documents/AustralianGovernmentGuidelinesontheRecognitionofSexandGender/AustralianGovernmentGuidelinesontheRecognitionofSexandGender.pdf

Who can be described as a bride or groom?

When completing forms and saying vows, parties may choose to use the term that best describes their gender.

There are three options for a party’s description: ‘groom’, ‘bride’ or ‘partner’.

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves in the marriage forms.

Item 4 of the NOIM asks a person to identify their sex as either Male, Female or Non-Binary. This question has been included for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to continue to prepare and publish national marriage statistics based on sex. A party’s recorded sex does not need to align with their gender identity.

Any person may choose the gender-neutral descriptors ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’.

Marriage celebrants should accept a party’s statement about their sex and gender.

The Australian Government recognises that a person’s sex and gender may not be the same. Individuals may identify and be recognised as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female.

 

SEATING

Which side is the bride’s side, and which is the groom’s side at the ceremony?

Traditionally, the bride stands to the left of the groom. (ask me why), but is this really still a thing? Most people in attendance know the couple and not just one of the other and so people often just sit where they like.

Positions may be dictated by the Ceremony style, rituals, entrance, venue etc. but that doesn’t necessarily apply to seating.

As a seated guest at a Religious Ceremony in a Christian Church, you will be facing the front and the Bridal/Wedding Party will be facing the altar. The Groom therefor will commonly be to your right and Bride to your left however for Jewish ceremonies, it’s the opposite.

As a seated guest at a Civil Ceremony, you will be facing the front, but the Bridal/Wedding Party will be facing you. The Groom will then commonly be to your left and Bride to your right.

Therefore, guests of the bride and groom should sit on the side of whomever they know best or are related to while mutual friends should sit on the side that has less people.

Many couples though now opt for people to sit wherever they are most comfortable as at a Civil Ceremony as we are not bound by tradition; the couple are free to create their own.

SECURITY

Do I need to have ‘security’ in place?

Security is not usually a problem at weddings but if you are expecting a problem with a venue, wayward relative or past acquaintance, or if a guest is known to have a little too much to drink, you might consider it.

SET-UP

Is it possible for your setup the day before?

I prefer to bring my equipment on the day.

What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding?

That is a question for the venue. I always arrive up to an hour beforehand but only need about 10 or 15 minutes to setup. I do however like to have a few minutes of alone time to review the Ceremony.

SHOES

Can I take my shoes off at any time during the Ceremony or reception?

Entirely up to you. It is your wedding and, so you can decide that.

SHORTENING OF TIME

How does the prescribed authority grant a shortening of time?

A prescribed authority is limited to the criteria set out in the marriage Act.

If the prescribed authority is satisfied that the relevant circumstance for shortening the notice period to less than one month has been met, the PA will make a note in the box provided at the foot of the NOIM on page four, sign it, add his/her designation and the words ‘Prescribed Authority’ and write the date.

The original NOIM should then be given by the parties to the authorised celebrant before the marriage is solemnised.

You will find more detail, including a Step-by-Step Guide on my webpage on the  ‘Shortening of Time’ tab

One month notice is not practical for me, can I apply for a shortening of time?

Talk to me about your situation and/or go to the ‘Shortening of Time’ tab on my webpage for more information and instructions.

The five circumstances in which an application for shortening of time may be considered by a prescribed authority are set out in Schedule 1B to the Marriage Regulations 1963 (Cth). These are limited to:

    1. employment related or other travel commitments
    2. wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations
    3. medical reasons
    4. legal proceedings, or
    5. an error in giving notice.

If the parties to an intended marriage have not provided the NOIM to the authorised celebrant with the minimum one month’s notice, they will need to apply to a prescribed authority for authorisation before the celebrant can make or confirm any arrangements to marry them.

What are the five circumstances in which an application for shortening of time may be considered by a prescribed authority?

The five circumstances in which an application for shortening of time may be considered by a prescribed authority are set out in Schedule 1B to the Marriage Regulations 1963 (Cth). These are limited to:

      1. employment related or other travel commitments
      2. wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations
      3. medical reasons
      4. legal proceedings, or
      5. an error in giving notice.

Whether a particular situation falls within one of these is a matter for the prescribed authority, not the authorised celebrant.

Talk to me about your situation and/or go to the ‘Shortening of Time’ tab on my webpage.

What steps are involved?

Situations arise from time to time where a couple have a need to shorten the One Month notice period before marriage.

It should be noted that shortening is only granted in extraordinary circumstances.

Steps for being granted Shortening of Notice are:

      • Step 1: Check that your circumstances
      • Step 2: Lodge your NOIM
      • Step 3: Prepare your evidence.
      • Step 4: Attend a Prescribed Authority
      • Step 5: Return the NOIM to your celebrant

Talk to me about your situation and/or go to the ‘Shortening of Time’ tab on my webpage for detailed information.

SIGNATURES

How should the marriage certificates be signed?

The marriage certificates should all be signed using the parties’ usual signatures.

The signatures should be the same as the signatures on the NOIM and on the declarations of no legal impediment.

The certificates should be signed in the pre-marriage names.

How should the NOIM be signed?

The NOIM should be signed using the person’s usual signature in ink.

 

SITTING OR STANDING

Can people stand throughout the ceremony.

It is entirely your choice, but just be mindful that anyone of tender age or condition, or with a disability might experience discomfort and they will be standing for 15 minutes or more before and probably after the ceremony.

As a Celebrant, I would suggest you take 10 factors be considered.

  1. How many in attendance? – If there are more than 40, people may not be able to see if all are standing all of the time, in a crowd.
  2. How long is the ceremony? – Most Ceremonies run for about 40 minutes it is more than 30 minutes, standing for all could be an issue?
  3. What will the weather be like? – Standing in the sun or in the cold, could be a problem.
  4. Will the seats be used? – I had a wedding in the heat of the day in full sun. Most guests didn’t sit down as they were standing way back, in the shade.
  5. Are there any children, anyone pregnant, aged or disabled? -They will probably need seating.
  6. Is there room in the budget for chairs?
  7. Is there space at your chosen venue?
  8. Do you want people sitting or standing as the Bridal/Wedding Party enters? I always have people seated for the entry of the Bridal/Wedding Party but standing for the bride.
  9. What will your photos and video look like? Photographers and videographers have different ideas because a video looks great if people are standing but people can be in the way for photos especially if they pull out phones to take pictures.
  10. How wide is the aisle? If narrow, the photographer will have to stand in the aisle to get great shots and that means the Tog will be blocking the groom’s view.

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SOLEMNISATION OF MARRIAGES

What procedure must the Celebrant undertake before solemnising a marriage?

PROCEDURE REQUIRED BEFORE SOLEMNISING A MARRIAGE

A marriage must not be solemnised unless:

      • notice of the intended marriage (NOIM) has been given to the authorised celebrant within the required notice period (discussed in Part 4.3 of the Guidelines i.e. at least one month’s written notice prior to the solemnisation of the marriage)
      • each party has produced the following documents to the authorised celebrant (as required by the NOIM):
      • evidence of date and place of birth (discussed further in Part 4.4 of the Guidelines, re: Paragraph 42(1)(b) of the Marriage Act)
      • evidence of identity (discussed further in Part 4.6 of the Guidelines, re: Subsection 42(8) of the Marriage Act)
      • evidence of the termination of any previous marriage, where relevant (discussed further in Part 4.8 of the Guidelines, re : Paragraph 42(1)(c) of the Marriage Act)
      • each party has made a declaration as to his or her belief that there is no legal impediment to the marriage (discussed further in Part 4.5 of the Guidelines), and
      • the authorised celebrant is satisfied that the marriage will be valid, including that each party has given real consent (discussed further in Part 8.6 of the Guidelines).

 

The authorised celebrant must also ensure that information about marriage education and counselling is made available to the parties to the marriage (discussed further in Part 4.9 of the Guidelines).

The checklist in Part 4.2 of the Guidelines is a useful tool for celebrants to ensure that they have completed all required documents when solemnising a marriage under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).

SONGS, SOUND & MUSIC

What songs should I choose?

You will find a list of over 400 songs and ideas on my Wedding Songs tab

Is there a sound system with adequate speakers or will that need to be rented?

I will bring a portable PA system that I use for the Ceremony and in most instances, music can be played through that system, but depending on the size and style of the event, you may wish to provide your own.

I have a choice of:

      • Mipro MA708 (rated to be suitable for up to 1000 without auxiliary speaker)
      • Mipro MA707 (rated to be suitable for up to 800 without auxiliary speaker)
      • Mipro MA705 (rated to be suitable for up to 500 without auxiliary speaker))
      • MA705 auxiliary speaker
      • Bluetooth speaker for very small events

I can also combine the system to boost the sound.

SPEECHES & TOASTS

How do I write/deliver a Speech?

A Speech delivered at a Wedding, Engagement or Naming Ceremony, is both a special tribute, and a privilege.

There are many considerations in writing a Speech including:

      • Purpose – is it to thank someone, or is to convey information
      • Preparation
      • Where & how to deliver
      • Will all be able to hear you?
      • Structure & Tone
      • Content
      • Audience
      • Time
      • How would the person/couple like the occasion be remembered?
      • What are the highlights of the person or couple’s story?

The Speech should be memorable and interesting for the audience so the tone and content should suite the audience while honouring the wishes, character and history of the person or couple to thanked or honoured.

It could be formal or funny?

At the start of the Speech you should briefly introduce yourself so that the audience knows the context and relationship especially if there are people in attendance who may not know you.

There should be a beginning, a middle and a close.

      1. A sentence that summarises is always a good place to start and sets the tone.
      2. The middle is the expansion of the opening sentence and
      3. The end is the summary in a sentence, of what was said.

Inclusions can be:

      • Achievements
      • Challenges faced how overcome
      • Family history & connections
      • Funny things they’ve said, done or experienced
      • The challenging times & the happy times
      • What you wish for the person or couple

If anyone else is going to speak make sure you find out what they are saying to avoid duplication.

TIP: Check facts and pronunciations of names, with one or more family members to ensure accuracy.

      • A Speech should not be too long. An average Speeches run for 3 -10 minutes but if there are more than one speaker, should run for only 3 minutes each.
      • Remember that ‘less is more’ as an overly long speech becomes boring but one that has concise content can have a significant impact.
      • After you have written your first draft, read it out aloud.
      • To help you to see if it flows well and so that you can identify the need for any adjustments, Practice reading the Speech to a friend, or in the mirror.
      • Stay in view of everyone and pause and focus before your start.
      • Type your speech and use large print to make it easy to read
      • Stand up straight so that people can see you and this helps with breathing, focus and projection
      • Do not fidget or make any unnecessary gestures
      • Speak to people at the back of the room to ensure that your voice caries and so that no one is excluded
      • When reading, run your index finger of your left hand down the margin as you read to mark the line you are reading and the index finger of your right hand to mark & follow the words along the line (so you won’t get lost)
      • Speak clearly and slowly. If your speak too fast, no one will understand you.
      • Do not worry if you miss anything as no-one will notice. Just carry on
      • If you get overcome with emotion, just pause, lift your chin, & take a deep breath. This closes the tear ducts and crying stops (hence the old expression of ‘chin-up’)
      • lifting your chin also opens your air-passage and you can take a deep breath and regulate your breathing
      • When finished, pause for a moment, before you return to your seat.

What is the correct Order of The Speeches & Toasts?

The wedding toasts and speeches are traditionally an important highlight of the reception that is an opportunity to offer thanks, good wishes, congratulations and of course, tributes.

A good speech can bring tears of laughter, joy or empathy & appreciation but the order and number are entirely dependent upon the couples’ and/or hosts’ wishes and can be significantly influenced by the style and location as much as the hopes and dreams, but always create some of the most cherished memories.

Speeches be delivered as a block, one after the other, before dessert or in staggered intervals between courses or dances.

The traditional line up of speeches/activity is as follows:

      • Grace before entre is served, led by the MC, a Minister or an appointed person
      • Before the main course, the Host or MC proposes a Toast to the Queen, if appropriate.
      • The Master of Ceremonies (MC) welcomes everyone and introduces the Bridal/Wedding Party on their arrival into the wedding reception.
      • Toast to the Bride and Groom made by the Host (traditionally Father of the bride if his family has paid for the wedding).
      • Response by the Groom and/or Bride who then offers a Toast to the Bridal/Wedding Party, bridesmaids and groomsmen.
        • The Couple might also choose to offer a toast to each other.
      • The Best man then responds on behalf of the Bridal/Wedding Party and then offers a toast to the Bride’s Parents.
      • Response by the Bride’s Father (or a family member) who then offers a toast to the Groom’s Parents,
      • Response by the Groom’s Father.
      • Best Man or MC reading of ‘telegrams’ (emails, SMS, Tweets, Facebook posts etc..).
      • The MC closes the speeches by thanking everyone and announces the cutting of the cake.
      • Cake is cut, followed by the Bridal Waltz (or first dance of choice)

Do we need to plan the speeches and toasts?

It is always polite to thank and toast the special people who made the event possible.

The wedding toasts and speeches are traditionally an important highlight of the reception that is an opportunity to offer thanks, good wishes, congratulations and of course, tributes.

A good speech can bring tears of laughter, joy or empathy & appreciation but the order and number are entirely dependent upon the couples’ and/or hosts’ wishes and can be significantly influenced by the style and location as much as the hopes and dreams, but always create some of the most cherished memories.

Planning out the speeches and who will give them, ensures a smooth flow to the reception and ensures no important people are left out. Setting a time limit on each speech also ensures there is time for other fun stuff to occur.

STATUTORY DECLARATIONS

Can a foreign notary public witness a statutory declaration?

A notary (also known as a notary public or public notary) takes oaths, signs and witnesses documents for use within Australia. A notary also performs similar functions in respect of international documents.

If you are outside Australia, an Australian registered notary can witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. A notary public who does not have a connection to Australia cannot witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration. A notary public must be appointed in Australia under their local state or territory legislation to be able to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations.

Can a lawyer without a practicing certificate witness a statutory declaration?

The list of authorised witnesses includes a person who is on the roll of the Supreme Court of a state or territory, or the High Court of Australia, as a legal practitioner (however described). The Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993 does not stipulate that a legal practitioner must hold a practicing certificate in order to witness Commonwealth statutory declarations.

Can a nurse witness a statutory declaration?

Nurses who are currently licenced or registered under a law of an Australian state or territory to practise are included on the list of authorised witnesses for Commonwealth Statutory Declarations.

Please note that a Nurse is not however an approved witness for a NOIM.

Can a person who has previously been on the list of authorised witnesses (e.g. a former Justice of the Peace or a retired teacher) still witness a statutory declaration if no longer in that poisition?

No.

list of authorised witnesses for Commonwealth statutory declarations can be found under Schedule 2 of the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993.

The title and occupation of a person included on the list must be current.

For example, while a teacher is included on the list of authorised witnesses, the teacher must be practising in order to witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration under this category. A retired teacher cannot witness a statutory declaration.

Can a person who is authorised to witness a statutory declaration also certify documents?

As a NSW Justice of the Peace, I can certainly Certify copies of most documents, but you should contact the organisation that requested the certification to check who they consider suitable as they may have their own list e.g. their own employees.

In general, anyone who is shown an original document can certify that a copy of that document is a true copy. They do not have to hold any particular office or position however most government departments and businesses will require a Justice of the Peace, do so.

The Commonwealth Statutory Declarations Act 1959 authorises certain persons to witness a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration, but that Act does not specifically authorise persons to certify documents. It also does not provide a list of authorised witnesses for certifying documents.

Can a person who is authorised to witness a statutory declaration also witness signatures on other documents?

The Attorney-General’s Department does not produce guidelines on the requirements for witnessing signatures on other legal documents. Generally, however, a witness should:

      • be 18 years old or older
      • know the person whose signature they are witnessing or have taken reasonable steps to verify the person’s identity
      • not be a party to the document, and
      • if the document is a trust deed, not be a beneficiary of the trust.

Usually witnesses do not have to hold any particular office or position. However, sometimes a law will specify who is permitted to witness a signature on a document for certain purposes. You may wish to check with the relevant organisation that has requested the document to see if they have requirements or criteria regarding who may witness signatures for their purposes.

Can a prison officer witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration?

A permanent employee of the Commonwealth, state or territory, or local government authority with more than five years of continuous service can witness Commonwealth statutory declarations.

If a prison officer meets these criteria, then that officer can witness Commonwealth Statutory Declarations.

Can a statutory declaration be witnessed via Zoom, webcam or Skype?

A Commonwealth Statutory Declaration must be witnessed, either in person or via video link, while the person making the declaration signs the document. The purpose of this is so that the person witnessing the declaration can authorise and validate the identity of the declarant.

Under Covid conditions in 2020, there are temporary circumstances in NSW where a Statutory Declaration may be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace by use of video link and scanners as follows:

      1. the Justice of the Peace observes the signing of the document via video link
      2. the signatory then scans the document to the JP who compares the document to the original via video link
      3. the JP then witnesses the document and scans it back to the signatory

Can fees be charged for witnessing a Commonwealth statutory declaration?

That depends on who the witness is.

In NSW Justices of the Peace, who is a community volunteer, is prevented from charging a fee to simply witness a Statutory Declaration, however there are no restrictions under Australian law preventing other witnesses from charging a fee and you will find that some solicitors, medical professionals, pharmacists, Marriage Celebrants and Notaries Public are not restricted from  charging for their services.

Can I draft my own statutory declaration form or make changes to the standard form?

To be used for a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration, a document must be in the prescribed form.

It will be in the prescribed form if it contains all of the elements of a Commonwealth statutory declaration as required under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 and Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993. As per regulation 3 of the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993, the form of a Commonwealth statutory declaration includes the following:

    • the name, address and occupation of the person making the declaration
    • a statement that the declarant is making a declaration under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959
    • numbered paragraphs setting out the matter(s) that the declarant is declaring in numbered paragraphs, followed by the statement that, “I understand that a person who intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence under section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959, and I believe that the statements in this declaration are true in every particular.”
      • the signature of the person making the declaration
      • the place and date (day, month, year) that the declaration was made
      • the signature, full name, qualification and address of person before whom the declaration is made

notes in relation to a Commonwealth statutory declaration:

      • Note 1: A person who intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence, the punishment for which is imprisonment for a term of 4 years—see section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959
      • Note 2: Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code applies to all offences against the Statutory Declarations Act 1959—see section 5A of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959.

Similar rules apply to the comparable state forms.

Can I make a statutory declaration in a language other than English?

It is at the discretion of the organisation requesting the statutory declaration whether additional requirements apply if a language other than English is used. There are no legislative or regulatory prohibitions on translating the content of the statutory declaration and transcribing it onto the form. You should check with the organisation requesting the statutory declaration whether they will accept a statutory declaration that has been translated by a third party, and whether they have specific requirements in relation to the translation.

Can I make changes to a statutory declaration after it has been witnessed?

Yes, but if a person wishes to amend a Commonwealth statutory declaration that has already been witnessed, each amendment needs to be made in front of the same witness, and both the declarant and witness need to initial each amendment.

To avoid confusion, the person may wish to complete a new statutory declaration and have it signed in the presence of an authorised witness.

The Attorney General recommends that you confirm with the organisation receiving the statutory declaration whether any requirements or time limits apply for adding or amending content to a completed statutory declaration.

Can I revoke a statutory declaration?

There is no mechanism for revoking a Commonwealth statutory declaration.

A Commonwealth statutory declaration remains valid only for as long as its content remains true and correct.

If the matters declared in a statutory declaration change, a person may seek to make another statutory declaration and have it signed in the presence of an authorised witness.

Can I submit my statutory declaration electronically or must I provide the original hard copy?

Usually a Statutory Declaration can only be witnessed in person where the witness, usually a Justice of the Peace, or a Marriage Celebrant, is present and both the declarant and the witness sign with a pen.

There are exceptions under Covid Conditions in NSW for Statutory Declaration, but that exception does not extend to the Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage.

For the purposes of a Notice of Intended marriage (NOIM), it is allowable that a completed (witnessed) Statutory Declaration be submitted to a Celebrant via scan.

Where there is a legislative requirement for a Commonwealth statutory declaration to be made, they must be provided and stored by the relevant agency in hard copy, due to the current exemptions to the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 and Electronic Transactions Regulations 2000. However, organisations requesting statutory declarations that are not required by legislation have discretion in relation to whether they choose to accept declarations sent electronically.

Can I witness my signature on my own statutory declaration?

No.

The Statutory Declarations Act 1959 states that a Commonwealth statutory declaration must be in the prescribed form which is located in Schedule 1 to the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993. The prescribed form requires that a person making a statutory declaration sign the declaration in the presence of an authorised witness.

A person who is authorised to witness a statutory declaration is not able to witness their own statutory declaration.

Can my family member or a person connected to the content of my statutory declaration also be a witness?

There is no prohibition against witnessing a Commonwealth statutory declaration if you have a connection with the content or declarant.

However, you may wish to confirm with the organisation requesting the statutory declaration whether they will accept a statutory declaration if it has been witnessed by a family member or a person connected to its content.

In NSW it may be considered to be a conflict of Interest for a JP to witness for a relative.

Can you, as a Celebrant witness a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration?

Yes.

I am both an Authorised Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant and a NSW Justice of the Peace and so can assist with NSW Statutory Declarations and Commonwealth Statutory Declarations.

More information can be found on the external link to Commonwealth statutory declarations.

How do I amend a statutory declaration and are there time limits?

Each amendment to a statutory declaration needs to be made in front of the same witness. The declarant and witness must initial each amendment. In some cases, a new statutory declaration signed in the presence of an authorised witness may be a less confusing option.

A Commonwealth statutory declaration remains valid for as long as its content remains true and correct. However, the receiving organisation or agency may be operating under specific laws or have an internal policy that imposes a time restriction on statutory declarations. Contact the organisation requesting the statutory declaration to clarify any time limits and requirements for adding or amending content to a completed statutory declaration.

How do I make a statutory declaration when I am not physically able to sign?

A Commonwealth statutory declaration requires the signature of the person making the declaration (known as ‘the Declarant’) in the presence of an authorised witness. If the Declarant makes a mark where a signature is required, the authorised witness needs to certify that the mark is that of the Declarant by writing next to the mark:

‘I, being the person before whom this statutory declaration is made, certify that this mark was placed by [Declarant’s full name] on this statutory declaration in my presence.’

Should a statutory declaration be typed or handwritten?

A statutory declaration may be typed or handwritten, but the signature must be completed in pen and signed in the presence of an authorised witness.

If the contents of the declaration are handwritten, this should also be in pen and not pencil. There is no specific legislative provision mandating this, but if pencil is used, details including the signature can be easily erased. You may also wish to check with the organisation receiving the declaration if they have any additional requirements.

Electronic or digital signatures are not permissible.

Under what circumstances will I have to submit a Statutory Declaration in support of my NOIM and marriage?

Where a party is unable to ascertain all of the particulars required in the NOIM after reasonable inquiry, they should write ‘unknown’ in the appropriate space/s and in order to make the NOIM effective, they should also provide the authorised celebrant with:

      • a Statutory Declaration as to his or her inability to ascertain the particulars not included in the NOIM, and
      • the reasons for that inability,
      • before the marriage is solemnised.

Celebrants should not solemnise a marriage until a satisfactory statutory declaration is received.

At the ceremony, if an interpreter is present, it is the interpreter must complete the Statutory Declaration on the back of the certificate of faithful performance by the interpreter.

What address do I need to provide on my statutory declaration?

An address for the purposes of a Commonwealth statutory declaration is defined in the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993 as “the place at which, or through which, a person may be contacted, and includes a postal address, but does not include the person’s email address.” As such, a person (declarant or witness) is able to use either a home address or a work address on the statutory declaration form, provided they are able to be contacted at that address.

What can I do if a statutory declaration has been incorrectly witnessed?

Commonwealth statutory declarations must be in the prescribed form and must be made before a prescribed person under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959. A statutory declaration that has not been made before a prescribed person will not be a valid statutory declaration. The significance of a statutory declaration that has been changed after it has been signed and witnessed would depend on the circumstances in which the statutory declaration was being used. We recommend that you speak to the organisation that has received the incorrectly witnessed statutory declaration or seek legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances.

What information should be included in my statutory declaration?

If you have a query relating to the information requested by another organisation, contact that organisation to clarify their requirements.

Note also that the Attorney-General’s Department is unable to provide advice regarding the

What requirements apply to attachments to statutory declarations?

If an attachment is included with a statutory declaration, it must be accurately referred to or cited in the statutory declaration.

The person witnessing the Commonwealth statutory declaration should be aware of the attachments but does not need to sign or read them.

For NSW Statutory Declaration, each item should be referred to as a annexure (e.g. Annexure A, B, C etc), and thee NSW Justice of the Peace will sign each attachment with the words “This is Annexure ‘X’, referred to in the Statutory Declaration of <name> witnessed by me …on <date>.

What should I do if my statutory declaration goes over multiple pages?

Commonwealth statutory declarations are made in accordance with the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 and the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993, and must be made in the form prescribed by the regulations and witnessed by a person authorised by the regulations. Otherwise, the legislation does not regulate the length or content of a Commonwealth statutory declaration. There is also no requirement that a statutory declaration be single sided. In the first instance, we recommend that you contact the organisation receiving the statutory declaration to see whether it has any particular requirements regarding multi-paged Commonwealth statutory declarations Commonwealth statutory declarations. Subject to any particular requirements of the receiving organisation, we suggest that at a minimum the following steps be taken to ensure accuracy and clarity of the information provided in the statutory declaration:

      • number each page of the statutory declaration consecutively
      • initial each page and have each initial witnessed.

Who can witness my signature on a statutory declaration when I am outside Australia?

A Commonwealth statutory declaration can be made outside Australia, provided that it is witnessed by a person on the list of authorised witnesses who holds an official, administrative connection to Australia. For example, a doctor who is registered to practise medicine in Australia can witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration when they are overseas. A doctor who is registered to practise medicine in a country outside Australia cannot witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration.

Details of some authorised witnesses at an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate are available from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. If you are unable to visit an Australian High Commission or Consulate, you may wish to contact them to find out if there is a person on the list of authorised witnesses that may be able to assist. Engaging an authorised witness overseas may attract a fee under the Consular Fees Act 1955.

SUBMISSION OF DOCUMENTS

What documents can an authorised celebrant receive electronically?

    • The Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM).
    • Original supporting documents –
        • passport (scanned original),
        • birth certificate (scanned original),
        • divorce certificates (scanned original or certified copy).
    • A completed & witnessed Commonwealth Statutory Declaration (scanned original signed in pen).

Note however that a Celebrant must be physically present in the company of a couple when they sign their Declaration of No IMpediment to marriage (DONLIM

What documents can be signed electronically in the presence of an authorised celebrant or authorised witness?

Note that this relates to signing on an electronic device:

    • The Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM).
    •  Official certificates of marriage (civil and religious).
    • Declaration of No Legal Impediment (DONLI).
    • Certificate of Faithful Performance by an Interpreter (following the solemnisation of the marriage).

SUIT

How do I choose my suit for my wedding?

The first thing to consider is that you are getting married, not going to a job interview.

Next; You want to look your very best for your bride; and you will have the photos for the rest of your life, so what you wear is not just a statement to your bride and your guests but also to your future self and to you future children.

Whilst you want individuality, the suit (or whatever you choose) should complement the bride. That is, don’t wear an overpowering style and colour if she is in a plain dress.

To look good, it must fit well, and you must feel comfortable.

Even a cheap acrylic suit will look good if it is a proper fit, but the same can’t be said for an expensive, ill-fitting suit.

The simplest and best is always a black, three piece, and you need to go for quality, so maybe paying a little more than usual for a quality woollen suit will help you look awesome.

The great thing about a black suit is that it contrasts beautifully with a white bridal gown or indeed any colour, and you can make it truly impressive by accessorising with the right shirt, tie, socks, lapels, pocket kerchiefs, cufflinks, shoes, etc.. On top of that, you will you get to wear it on other occasions as by simply changing to a business shirt, you are dressed for the boardroom, job interview or other important occasions.

If you want to go more casual, drop the jacket or the vest. You can even keep the vest but go to a casual shirt.

Another plus for a quality woollen suit is that it will insulate you from the weather so that if it is a scorcher of a day, the jacket will actually help keep you cool because it blocks the suns’ heat but if it is a cold, windy day, the jacket will help keep you warm.

      • Style – Contrast or Compliment
      • Quality
      • Colour (black is versatile)
      • Fit & Comfort
      • Accessories

Should the Groom and Groomsman wear matching suits?

It used to be the fashion for the Groom and Groomsmen to all wear a similar rented suite that would be returned the next day but as a celebrant I have seen may wedding photos and can confidently say that it is always best if the Groom stands out.

This can be done in a variety of ways:

      • Wear a different colour or cut
      • Wear a more sophisticated or more elaborate flower or boutonnieres
      • Wear a different tie, perhaps a different colour or a bow tie ion contrast to neck ties for the Groomsmen
      • Wear a vest or waistcoat, perhaps even in a different colour.
      • Change accessories such as socks, lapels, pocket kerchiefs, cufflinks, shoes etc..
      • Reverse or contrast the colours of shirts & ties, e.g. red shirt (matching Bridal/Wedding Party) & white tie for groomsmen but white shirt & red tie for the Groom (that may not be your colour choice, but you get the idea)

SUPERHERO AND/OR OR MARVEL THEMES

What are some ways we can include a Superhero theme?

Themes can add a great deal of fun to an event. Here are a few ideas:

      • Superheroes on the invites
      • Decorate the venue as a Fortress Of Solitude, one of the superhero academies, a laboratory or as a Batcave
      • Superhero themes played as entrance music
      • Decorate the Signing table or tablecloth
      • Dress it up – Costumes / Role Play
      • Dress it up – Superhero tie /shoes/socks
      • Dress it up – Superhero jacket or even suit
      • Creative scripting
      • Readings from Superhero speeches, theme songs or Superhero weddings
      • additional decoration such as a shield, sword or hammer
      • Have cocktails named after Superheroes
      • Superheroes can be featured in my ceremonial booklet
      • Have a superhero photo booth

SURPRISE WEDDING

Can you not tell my partner we are getting married; I want to surprise him?

NO!

By definition, a Surprise Wedding involves one of the parties to the marriage being ‘surprised’, either at or shortly before the ceremony.

The most popular scenario involves one member of a couple wishing to ‘surprise’ the other party by organising a marriage ceremony without the knowledge of the other and then presenting them with the complete ceremony as a romantic gesture. Whilst this may sound romantic, a marriage ceremony cannot legally take place in such a scenario.

It is best described as potentially placing undue pressure on the ‘surprised’ person to agree to the arrangement. Even if there is evidence that the person would previously have agreed to a marriage proposal, their consent must not be assumed. No person can be put under pressure to enter into a marriage and the pressures imposed by a ‘surprise’ wedding could place in doubt the validity of the marriage under section 23B of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), that is, that the person’s consent to the marriage was not a real consent because it was obtained by duress or fraud. For further information on the issue of consent please see Part 8.6 of the Guidelines.

Under no circumstances can an authorised celebrant agree to perform a surprise wedding as it is in breach of the Marriage Act for Authorised celebrants to participate in such ceremonies.

It is vital that an authorised celebrant is satisfied that both parties genuinely consent to the marriage and so if at any point a celebrant is unsure of the genuine consent of either party, the solemnising the marriage cannot take place and may even be stopped midway.

If a Surprise wedding Ceremony were to take place, it may be deemed invalid and the Celebrant prosecuted.

 

TABLES & CHAIRS

Do I need to provide those, or do you?

We will need a table for the signing of certificates and, so it is always best that you provide them, but I do have a table available if needed, just make certain you let me know beforehand.

THEFTS

Are homes broken into or items stolen during weddings & funerals and if so, what can I do to prevent this?

In Australia this seems to be quite rare but very sadly, burglaries do sometimes occur while families are attending weddings & funerals

Sometimes despicable criminals termed “Wedding thieves” or “Obituary Burglars”, read about services in online, in newspapers, social media posts, or other public notices, etc. and then target the home when they know the family will be away. This is not a new phenonium but in some other parts of the world, has grown as a problem.

You can protect your home in the same way that you might when going on holiday:

      • Don’t leave a note on your door, as this makes it obvious you’re not home.
      • Don’t leave keys under the mat or in a pot plant
      • Do have one or more trusted neighbours keep an eye on your home while you’re away at the service.
      • Do leave some lights and maybe radio or TV using an automatic timer to create the illusion that someone is home.
      • Do ask a neighbour to collect your mail or any packages you may receive while you’re gone.
      • Do have secure locks for all windows, doors & access points
      • Do activate video & alarm security if you have one

Are wedding receptions, funeral homes, chapels and churches targeted during services and if so, what can I do to prevent this?

In Australia this is extremely rare but whilst it has happened, the thieves usually get caught.

Most Chapels now have video cameras and of course there are a number of people keeping an eye on activity (concierge, funeral director, photographer, Celebrant etc.)

Simple precautions can prevent theft:

      • Don’t leave valuables on display in the car and make sure you lock the car
      • Do have trusted friends look after your property (handbags etc) if you need to step away from them or if you will be distracted
      • Don’t leave valuables unattended on or under seats
      • Do keep valuables in view
      • Do ensure someone who is very responsible is in charge of the security of gifts

A thief in Melbourne was recently arrested after he was captured on video stealing a collection for the family at a funeral and in western Sydney cars were broken into while people were attending a service; and churches Australia wide are warned that thieves have been known to reach under seats to steal handbags during services. In 2016 a gang were specifically targeting weddings but were also eventually arrested.

TIME & PUNCTUALITY

If my invite says 3:00pm,  do I get there at 3:00pm or 3.30?

If your invitation says 3:00pm, and you are a guest, you should arrive no later than 2:40pm or earlier to give you at least 20 minutes to park, find your position and freshen up so that you are be ready and in place at 3:00pm as the bride walks down the aisle.

If you are the Groom, arrive an hour before so that you can welcome the guests.

Depending on the venue, if you are the bride, and everything is ready, no later 15 minutes before.

The guests, venue & staff, vendors and their staff and even the Celebrant may have other responsibilities and it may be very costly to delay them. If your venue has other bookings, you might even be asked to leave if the ceremony runs over time because you arrived late.

How long will the ceremony go for?

That depends entirely on what you want to include, done or be said.

On average, a satisfying and enjoyable ceremony runs for about 30 – 45 minutes, or even up to an hour.

My shortest ceremony has been about 20 minutes and the longest, which included two ministers, myself as lead Celebrant and a lot of Bollywood dancing, lasted a wonderful 2 hours or more. No one cared how long as it was too much fun.

The shortest possible ceremony satisfying only the legal requirements and including nothing more than the two witnesses, can take as little as 12 minutes however no one in all my years has ever sincerely asked for that. It would be a very cold and probably unsatisfying ceremony. Even ceremonies in hospitals where oxygen masks and medical attention is on call, take longer.

The length can extend of course if there are multiple readers, and there are other inclusions such as cultural inclusions, various rituals and maybe songs and/or dance.

Will I be charged more if I am late?

Yes.

The Celebrant, venue, musicians, and all vendors allocate a certain amount of time for your Ceremony and so if you run late, it can impact financially on your Ceremony and on other Ceremonies and so could add significant costs.

TRANSPORT

How should our wedding party travel to the reception?

We bet you and your groom planned a perfect ceremony exit where you hop into a vintage hot rod and ride off to the reception. That sounds great, but yes, you’re responsible for getting your wedding party there too. If you’re going casual and want them to simply drive over, let everyone know this beforehand so they can carpool. Otherwise, organize some transportation ahead of time.

TYING OF THE KNOT & HANDFASTING

What is tying of the knot & handfasting?

Before rings, in many cultures, the hands of the bride and groom were tied together, to celebrate the marriage.

The Celtic ritual also involves a blessing of hands and the  binding of the couple with a secure knot, hence the term ‘tying of the knot’.

Similar rituals are also found in other cultures including Chinese (see Red String), American Indian,  and some Islander cultures but significantly in Hinduism where it is part of an ancient prayerful ritual and so  should only be performed by a Prasad, hence for Civil Ceremonies, we follow a form of the Celtic tradition.

The couples’ hands are joined together, usually holding hands, so the wrists and pulses are touching, with a ribbon or symbolic material looped over the couples wrists and tied by the celebrant or a friend.

The couple express their love and commitment for one another and like the cord or ribbon, which has two individual ends, they are two individuals, and so they become one by the tying.

A handfasting ritual performed during a wedding ceremony, can take place instead of a ring exchange or following it.

UNITY RITUALS

What is involved in a Hand Blessing Of Blessing Of Hands Blessing)

A hand blessing is a ritual that symbolises the unity, bringing each closer to the other taking part. It can involve just the couple or can include family members or even friends.

It is especially useful when two families are unified by marriage.

The participants form a circle and join hands.

The Celebrnat then either placed a hand on top of the other hands or simply extends a hand over the joined hands, and then says words of blessing similar to:

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

 These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

 These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

 These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

 These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

 These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

 And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

We have been together for 30 years but how can we include the adult son of my bride in our SSM Ceremony even though she, his biological mother does not want to be ‘given away and he thinks of me as his “other mother”.

First thing to do is ask him what he would like to do as he might already have an idea but be shy about coming forward.

You could all consider his being a Witness, Usher, performing a Reading, being the Man of Honour, taking party in a ring warming; perhaps presenting the rings, or even making an epic introduction of his two Mums, at the end of the Ceremony.

Another option is the creation of a keepsake flower presentation to both brides, with individual bunches of flowers representative of each mum’s personality, so that both bunches of flowers combine in a vase as one beautiful display (but add 1 artificial flower of each type to be kept for anniversaries).

You’ll find a few other ideas on these links:

What is a Unity Candle and how is it used?

It is a prominent candle that is lit from other candles and so unifying a flame, and in so doing, symbolises the unification of two families, two hearts, two loves or lives i.e. making two into one.

The first candles may be lit by mothers or family members and handed to the couple who bring them together.

Another option is where all guests are also given a candle each, and after the first guest’s candle is lit, the flame is passed along until all candles are alight, and then the bride and groom together light their unity candle to symbolise that it is the unity of not just family, but of friends who are supporting the couple in their marriage.

Once the Unity Candle is lit, the others may be extinguished because the flame of the Unity Candle is of course, the unification of all others.

The Unity Candle does not have have to be larger but should be the prominent candle if there is more than one candle burning.

The Unity Candle can be framed in a cage, be placed on a pedestal, be the larger of other candles, or can be the higher, central candle.

If you have a candle from earlier in life such as from your Baptism or Naming Ceremony, you may wish to use that for the occasion or you may wish to have a new ornamental candle personalised with your names and the date, as a keepsake from your wedding.

VALIDITY OF MARRIAGE

Is my marriage in Australia, valid?

Let’s go through a checklist to get some clarity. If you can tick all of the boxes, there would seem to be no reason to doubt your marriage:

    • You and your partner were eligible to be married under Australian law:
        • not be married to someone else
        • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or sibling
        • be at least eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old
        • understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying
        • use specific words during the ceremony
        • gave written notice of their intention to marry to their celebrant, within the required time frame.
    • Neither of you was coerced into marriage
    • You had a Registered Celebrant or a person you believed be a registered Celebrant
    • You completed a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) and after signing it before an authorised witness, gave it to the celebrant at least a month, but no more than 18 months, before the marriage
    • You provided proof of Date & Place Of Birth, as well as Proof of Identity to the Celebrant
    • You signed a Declaration of No Impediment to marriage prior to the ceremony
    • All of the information you provided forms is true
    • The supporting documents used as evidence, were true and legitimate
    • The ceremony took place within Australian borders
    • At the ceremony, you had two witnesses who were over 18
    • The Celebrant identified as being authorised to solemnise the marriage, at the Ceremony
    • The Celebrant gave a legal definition of Marriage in Australia during the ceremony
    • Your full names were used at least once during the Ceremony
    • You and your partner exchanged legal vows
    • You both believed you were married
    • You, the Celebrant and the two witnesses signed the Marriage certificates.
    • A Ceremonial Marriage Certificate, which is proof of marriage, was handed to you by the Celebrant
    • The Celebrant signed the NOIM to attest that the marriage had been solemnised

And for registration purposes, (but not validity) :

    • The Celebrant lodged the marriage documents with the relevant BDM within 14 days

What are the consequences for the authorised celebrant and the couple if the marriage is not valid or if the authorised celebrant believes it may not be valid?

One of the negative consequences for the couple may be that they have to apply to the Family Court for a declaration as to the validity of their marriage.

They may also have to go through a second marriage ceremony under section 113 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (see Part 10 of the Guidelines).

A valid marriage usually invalidates any existing will.

The position of each member of the couple and members of their families may be considerably affected if a marriage is not valid.

Each of these processes can be stressful, expensive and difficult for the couple (not to mention the Celebrant).

The authorised celebrant may have committed an offence.

Under section 100 of the Marriage Act it is an offence for a person to solemnise a marriage or purport to solemnise a marriage if he or she has reason to believe there is a legal impediment to the marriage or it would be void. (For further details on the offence in the Marriage Act please refer to Part 11 of the Guidelines. )

The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants may also take disciplinary measures against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant. (See Section 39 of the Marriage Act)

Why is it important to establish that the proposed marriage is valid?

This very question is covered in section 8.1  of the Guidelines for Marriage Celebrants.

A valid marriage changes the legal status of the parties to the marriage.

This has potentially far-reaching implications for the parties which include:

    • official identity documentation –
    • a married person can obtain official identity documentation, such as an Australian passport, in their married name (subject to the Australian Passport Office rules)
    • financial arrangements –
    • provisions in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) regulate how the married couple’s financial arrangements will be determined should they separate
    • inheritance of property –
    • marriage invalidates any will made by either party to the marriage prior to the marriage (unless the will is made in contemplation of the particular marriage).

Also, dissolution of marriage may revoke, or otherwise affect the operation of, the will of a party.

An authorised celebrant must be satisfied that a proposed marriage will be valid at all times prior to the conclusion of the marriage ceremony.

What are the consequences for the authorised celebrant and the couple if the marriage is not valid or if the authorised celebrant believes it may not be valid?

The authorised celebrant may have committed an offence.

Under section 100 of the Marriage Act it is an offence for a person to solemnise a marriage or purport to solemnise a marriage if he or she has reason to believe there is a legal impediment to the marriage or it would be void. (For further details on the offence in the Marriage Act please refer to Part 11 of the Guidelines. )

The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants may also take disciplinary measures against a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant. (See Section 39 of the Marriage Act)

One of the negative consequences for the couple may be that they have to apply to the Family Court for a declaration as to the validity of their marriage.

They may also have to go through a second marriage ceremony under section 113 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) (see Part 10 of the Guidelines).

A valid marriage usually invalidates any existing will.

The position of each member of the couple and members of their families may be considerably affected if a marriage is not valid.

Each of these processes can be stressful, expensive and difficult for the couple (not to mention the Celebrant).

VEIL

What is the origin of the Bridal Veil?

The Bridal or Wedding Veil covers some part or all of the head, hair and/or face but it is not necessarily just the bride who may wear a veil.

In some parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, it is the men who wear a sehra on their wedding day. This veil, made from flowers, beads, tinsel, dry leaves, or coconuts or fresh marigolds, covers the whole face and neck and the groom wears this throughout the day concealing his face, arrives at the ceremony on horseback and does not remove the veil until the end of the wedding ceremony.

The Bridal Veil has a mixed and long history through Europe, Asia, and the Africa continent and with exploration and migration, spread back and forth across the world.

In biblical times it was  the groom who placed a veil over his bride’s face before the ceremony as a gesture and promise that he was marrying her for her inner beauty but more widely, in Judaism, Christianity and in Islam, the purpose of the veil was generally to offer a ‘shield’ from evil including demons who were attracted to beauty, and the eyes of sinful men.

In the middle ages across Europe, when there were arranged marriages, a bride would wear a facial veil until the end of the ceremony, in part so that the bride would not be rejected by the Groom on the basis of her looks.

In the Cyclades, (Greek islands) it is believed that being a bride is one of the vulnerable
stages in the passage of life, the transient state between being a young girl to a married woman, and so she is dressed as beautifully as possible but as a beautiful young woman about to be married, she may be coveted by the evil eye and so she is therefore veiled and adorned with amuletic jewellery to protect her.

Following this tradition, the European bridal veil and headdresses may be pearled as the sheen of pearls reflects the evil eye and frightens it away, the reflection being anathema to it.

In the Nasaud area of Northern Romania bridal headdresses are still hand made of pearls and mirrors for this specific purpose.

By the 19th century, wedding veils came to symbolize a woman’s piety, virginity and modesty and this included the covering of her hair.

The tradition of a veiled bride’s face continues even today wherein, a virgin bride, especially in Christian or Jewish culture, enters the marriage ritual with a veiled face and head, and so remains fully veiled, both head and face, until the ceremony concludes.

The lifting of the facial veil may also be recognised as the crowning event of the wedding, when the beauty of the bride is finally revealed to the groom and to  the guests with the groom.

When the bride’s father lifts the veil, it was a gesture of ‘giving’ the bride to the groom who then kisses her, or the new groom may lift  her facial veil to kiss her, symbolizing the groom’s right to enter into conjugal relations with his bride.

Veiling continues to play a role in both religious and civil weddings, but the Bride is no longer regarded as property to be given and so the veil is now worn more as a design style, and it is often the lead bridesmaid who will lift the veil to reveal the Bride’s radiance while also ensuring the bride’s hair and makeup and not disturbed.

When should I take off my veil after the ceremony?

Depending on cultural and personal preferences, the optimal times to remove the veil are:

  • upon arrival in the ceremonial area to face the groom so that the Bride’s beauty and radiance are revealed firstly to the groom,
  • at the end of the Ceremony, in readiness for the first kiss
  • Upon arrival at the reception
  • After the first dance while  guests are eating.

Once the veil’s off, stick it in your bridal suite or have it “decorate” your chair.

Who lifts my veil?

There are two common options.

    1. Your escort or lead bridesmaid lifts the veil when the bride is presented, “revealing” her radiance to the groom.
    2. The groom/bride lifts the veil just before the kiss.

Depending on your hairstyles and how the veil is attached, the assistance of the Matron/Maid of Honour may be called for regardless of who lifts the veil


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VENUE

How do we find the best venue?

You will find a list of options for Venues on my Venues tab.

Selection depends on a number of factors including the size & style of your wedding, your tastes, your preferred location, transport & access, and of course, your budget.

How far in advance of my wedding, should I book a venue?

There are so many variables. I’ll try to narrow down the options.

POPULAR VENUES

If it is a popular, commercial, wedding venue it is not uncommon to book 12-18 months in advance, unless there is a cancellation. Some may even require longer.

At some popular sites, depending on the size of your party, many larger venues can hold more than one function at a time.

PARKS & HALLS

However, if it is a park, beach, community hall or club, you may be able to book in only weeks or perhaps a few months in advance.

BACKYARD

Back yard weddings are a growing choice, especially during Covid.

SEASONS

Spring tends to be the busiest time, followed by Autumn and Summer and finally Winter and so if you want a Winter wedding, you will have more options and flexibility and maybe even a lower price.

N.B. You will find a list of options for Venues on my Venues tab.

How much time should I book at a venue, for my wedding?

That depends entirely upon what you have included in your ceremony and any extra activities you have planned.

The actual Ceremony may run from 20 minutes to an hour; however you might need to book for set-up & preparation time, any extra time needed for  photographs, greetings etc. or even for an on-site the reception etc.

Time should also be allowed for dismantling and removal of the set-up.

The quickest set-up time I have had is about 5 minutes and the longest was about 40 minutes where decorations and equipment had to carried across a field.

Once your Ceremony script has been agreed upon, I can advise you on how long it will run, how much set-up & take-down time is required but you will be in control of other aspects such as the time your vendors (photographer, decorator etc.) require.

Parks & Beaches: Are there bathrooms/toilets at outdoor spaces such as parks, beaches and gardens?

Not always. Best to visit the site and check.

Even if there are toilets, it is wise to also check with the local council that the toilets will be open at the time of your ceremony

You will finds a list of options for Venues on my Venues tab.

Parks & Beaches’ Permits: Do I need a council permit to hold my ceremony in a park, beach or public place?

Maybe. Best to check with the local council.

You will finds a list of options for Venues on my Venues tab.

What do I need to know about venue contracts?

Make a list of what you require and then balance that against the contract.

      • What exactly does the fee cover & is it refundable?
      • Does the booking time include set-up & take-down?
      • Who does the set-up & take-down?
      • Are there any additional charges like coat check, valet parking etc?.
      • Are there any exclusions?
      • Where & in what condition are the change rooms & toilets?
      • Is there sufficient parking?
      • Is the area suitable for the number of guests?
      • What back-up is there in inclement weather?
      • Is it wheelchair accessible?
      • Is it accessible to all guests?

You will find a list of options for Venues on my Venues tab.

VIDEO MEETING

What can an authorised celebrant do via video conferencing?

The Celebrant can:

  • sight evidence of identity electronically,e.g. where a party holds a driver’s license up to the camera during a video conferencing call.
  • witness the signing of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM)
  • Plan the Ceremony with the couple

The Declaration of No Impediment to Marry (DNLI or DONLI) however cannot be witnessed via video conferencing

VISA

My visa runs out the day after the wedding. Will I have the certificate in time?

The turnaround time for NSW BDM marriage certificates is 4-10 days.

You should contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for Visa information.

Three marriage certificates are signed at the ceremony, but this questions refers to the additional Certificate of Registration, which is a certificate available from the Birth, Deaths & Marriages upon processing of the submitted certificate and additional evidence of valid marriage that is generated prior to, and at the ceremony.

Section 50 of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) requires the authorised celebrant to prepare and sign the following three marriage certificates for each marriage he or she solemnises:

  • the Form 16 official certificate of marriage, which is sent to the relevant BDM for registration purposes .
  • the second Form 16 official certificate of marriage kept by the authorised celebrant or the church (discussed further in Part 6.2 of these Guidelines), and
  • the Form 15 certificate of marriage, which is given to the parties (discussed further in Part 6.4 of these Guidelines).
  • The Form 16 official certificate of marriage, No Impediment to Marriage Declaration, and the NOIM, are all submitted to the relevant of Birth, Death & Marriages (BDM) for registration purposes. Once processed, a new certificate confirming the registration, is issued by the BDM and there may be variation in processing time. It is that additional certificate that you will require for name change, passport and visa applications.

It is highly unlikely that you will have the registration certificate within 24 hours.

Processing begins when they have received your complete and correct application including required copies of identification.

The NSW BDM can provide a priority service at an additional fee, but normal processing times are 4-10 days.

As I register NSW marriages on-line, if the marriage takes place in NSW, I can lodge the documentation online and usually have the certificate back, usually with 2-5 business days but there can be delays in processing and/or postage.

What is a Marriage Visa?

As a marriage celebrant, I cannot provide advice on migration matters. Section 280 of the Migration Act 1958 states that a person who is not a migration agent must not give immigration assistance. Heavy penalties apply.

You should contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for Visa information.

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, a Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) allows people to come to Australia to marry their fiancé. If you are granted this visa, you should marry your fiancé and apply for a visa before your Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) expires.

Please see that Department of Immigration and Border Protection website under Prospective Marriage visa (subclasses 300) for up-to-date information.

The documents you need to provide can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website under “Follow these steps”.

Eligibility:       You must:

      • intend to marry
      • have met and know your prospective spouse
      • be at least 18 years of age.
      • Length of stay: ​Nine months

Costs From $AUD7,000

From 18 November 2017, Prospective Marriage visa (subclasses 300) applications must be lodged online, via ImmiAccount.

Refer to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s ‘frequently asked questions (FAQs)’ page for further information.

Couples may also seek the advice of a registered migration agent for information on applying for marriage visas.


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VOWS

Can I change the legal vows?

There is limited capacity to change the vows

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows – see the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the Legal Vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

      • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
      • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
      • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
      • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
      • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
      • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

      • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and

As an example, the vows could read:

    • ‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner in marriage.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows).

In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

Can I make up my own vows?

Yes.

You still have to say the legal Vows, but you can add your own touch with personal vows. see the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

The minimum legal vows are set out in the Marriage Act are very important and not complying may give rise to concerns about the validity of a marriage.

The safest course of action for authorised celebrants solemnising marriages is to avoid any such issues by complying with the guidance on the vows set out below.

While a couple is entitled to rely on the certificate issued by the relevant State or Territory BDM as evidence that the marriage was registered and that it was solemnised in accordance with the vows in section 45, that does not mean that non-compliance with the requirements for vows may not become an issue for a couple in individual cases.

While the married couple may gain reassurance from the BDM marriage certificate, serious consequences may follow for an authorised celebrant who has not followed the requirements.

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows. However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

      • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
      • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
      • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
      • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
      • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
      • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

      • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
      • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’ but partner in marriage can

As an example, the vows could read:

‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner in marriage.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

Can I use the term ‘partner in marriage’ in the vows?

Yes. As of April 2018, you can use the term ‘partner in marriage’ in your Legal Vows.

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by each of the parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion).

As part of the legislative amendments that provided for marriage equality, the vows for use in a civil marriage ceremony were amended to expressly provide that parties to a marriage may elect to use the gender-neutral term ‘spouse’ in their vows.

This term was added as an additional option; the terms

      • ‘husband’ or
      • ‘wife’, or ‘
      • words to that effect’,

also continue to be available for use by parties when stating their marriage vows.

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

Can the couple personalise the vows?

Yes.

You still have to say the legal Vows, but you can then add your own touch with personal vows – see the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows. However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

    • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
    • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
    • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
    • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
    • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or

the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

      • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
      • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’ but partner in marriage can.

As an example, the vows could read:

‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner in marriage.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

Can we personalise the vows?

Yes.

You still have to say the legal Vows, but you can add your own touch with personal vows. For more information, see the separate tab of What do I say? .

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows but, it is important to be aware that currently, the Attorney general’s Office advsies that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that effect’ in subsection 45(2):

    • ‘call upon’ may be changed to ‘ask’
    • ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
    • ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
    • ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
    • ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
    • the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both.

The following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable:

    • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and
    • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’ , but ‘partner in marriage’

As an example, the vows could read:

‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, <A.B.>, take you, <C.D.>, to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner in marriage.’

Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

Do I have to say ‘obey’?

Certainly not (unless you wish to).

The tradition of vowing to “Love, Honour and Obey”, dates to when Brides were considered to be a possession and under the control or ‘property’ of their husbands.

Who says their Vows first?

Who says their Vows first?

The tradition of who says their Vows first comes from the middle ages when a Groom would on occasion ‘capture’ or ‘kidnap’, ‘rule’ over her, or ‘possess’ her and she might come with family wealth to be transferred to the groom and so the Groom would quickly say his Vows and the Bride, if willing (or perhaps unwillingly), would say hers next.

As that was hundreds of years ago and Brides are no longer a possession, don’t get captured for the transfer of wealth, and as we have equality in Australia, it is now simply who chooses to go first.

In the USA, there was a small trend to say vows simultaneously but that is not really practical in that under the law, the vows must be heard by witnesses and saying them simultaneous vows could be confusing and cast doubt on validity (legal solemnisation).

We are the same sex, and so can we both be brides/grooms?

Yes.

It is up to each party to decide which option they want to use to describe themselves.

So You can be whichever you choose.

After changes to Marriage Law, there was a short period of time that we were told that only males could be grooms and only females could be brides, but this was subsequently recognised as being discriminatory and so the ruling changed.

In addition, Marriage celebrants can now choose to accept a party’s statement on what their sex and gender is without requiring evidence. As set out in the section 42 of the Act and in the notes section of the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), evidence is only required for date and place of birth, evidence of identity of the parties; and if one or both parties were previously married, evidence of their divorce or death of previous partner.

See: Marriage equality: Questions and answers on sex and gender – May 2018 [PDF 858KB]

What are the ‘Legal Vows’, or words in Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act?

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion).

From 9 December 2017, the vows were changed to reflect the current definition of marriage:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take you, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse, or partner in marriage).

This allows marrying couples to make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the vows required to be said by each of the parties to a civil marriage ceremony (where the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion). As part of the legislative amendments that provided for marriage equality, the vows for use in a civil marriage ceremony were amended to expressly provide that parties to a marriage may elect to use the gender-neutral term ‘spouse’ in their vows. This term was added as an additional option; the terms ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, or ‘words to that effect’, also continue to be available for use by parties when stating their marriage vows. Under subsection 45(2), marrying couples can make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship.

Accordingly, the term, ‘partner in marriage’ falls within the phrase ‘words to that effect’ and can be used in the vows instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

These minimum wording of the vows must be included in the ceremony.

They are the minimum words which must be exchanged by the couple to ensure that they fully understand the nature of the ceremony and that they are marrying each other.

What are the consequences if the requirements of Section 45 are not satisfied?

Section 48 of the Marriage Act states that in certain circumstances a marriage not solemnised in accordance with Part IV Division 2 of the Act will be invalid. Subsection 48(2) of the Act sets out a number of exceptions to section 48, but section 45 is not included in the list of exceptions.

This means that if the authorised celebrant is not a minister of religion, (that is me as a Civil Celebrant) and the ceremony does not satisfy the minimum requirements of subsection 45(2), namely the exchange of vows as specified in the Marriage Act, the marriage is likely to be void.

Likewise, if the authorised celebrant is a minister of religion the ceremony must be a form and ceremony recognised as sufficient by the religious body concerned or the marriage may be void. It is therefore very important that authorised celebrants comply with the minimum requirements of section 45 in relation to the ceremony.

[1] See paragraph 119(3)(i) of the Marriage Act

What must be done with the saying of vows in situations where a person is unable to speak?

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act requires each party to say the vows to each other.

If the party is able to say the vows then he or she should do so.

However, if he or she is not able to do so for exceptional medical reasons (for example, the party has had a stroke or has a tracheotomy, leaving him or her unable to speak), it is sufficient that they communicate the vows by another means that is understood by the other party to the marriage, the authorised celebrant, the two witnesses and those present.

The medical circumstances must be exceptional and long-lasting in nature.

If a party to a marriage communicates in a sign language, such as Aslan, they may say their vows using that sign language. For information on use of interpreters in this situation see Part 5.9 of the Marriage Act Guidelines for Celebrants.

You can then add your own touch with personal vows that may be read by anyone on your behalf. See the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

What names should be used in the vows (meaning of the terms ‘A.B’ and ‘C.D’)?

Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (other than ministers of religion), and State and Territory Officers, should use the parties’ full names at some stage during the ceremony, preferably early in the ceremony, for the purpose of legal identification of the parties. The full name of the parties will be the names recorded in the NOIM.

Where full names (as they appear in the NOIM) have been used earlier in the ceremony, it is not necessary for surnames to be used in the minimum vows. This is because the identity of the parties to the marriage has already been established. Couples may choose to use their first, or first and middle, names only.

    • Nicknames alone should not be used for the vows.

However, shortened names or nicknames may be added to the names used in the vows. For example, ‘…I, Elizabeth Jane (Liz), take you, Peter John (Buddy)…’. Nicknames may be used elsewhere in the ceremony, on the condition that full legal names have been used earlier in the ceremony.

You can then add your own touch with personal vows; see the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

When do I get to say, “I do”?

In a Civil Ceremony, you can say ‘I do’ before or after the legal Vows, but not in place of the legal vows.

Each of the parties to the marriage must say the minimum legal vows to each other.

A ‘question and answer’ form of the vows is not contemplated by the Marriage Act for non-religious marriage ceremonies.

It should not be used as a substitute for the couple stating the vows set out in the Act. For example, the authorised celebrant should not say, ‘A.B., will you take C.D., to be your lawful wedded wife?’, with the response from the bride or groom of ‘I do’.

The inclusion of a ‘question and answer’ segment within the ceremony can however be in addition to the formal vows required by the Act being spoken by each party…. so there can be an “I Do” but it is not part of the legals.

Who must say the vows?

Each of the parties to the marriage must say the Legal Vows to each other, but you can add your own touch with personal vows. see the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

In a Civil Ceremony, A ‘question and answer’ form of the vows is not contemplated by the Marriage Act for non-religious marriage ceremonies.

It should not be used as a substitute for the couple stating the vows set out in the Act.

For example, the authorised celebrant should not say:

‘A.B., will you take C.D., to be your lawful wedded wife?’, with the response from the bride or groom of ‘I do’.

The inclusion of a ‘question and answer’ segment in the ceremony would need to be in addition to the formal  (legal) vows required by the Marriage Act being spoken by each party.

Why is using the minimum vow wording so important?

The minimum vows set out in the Marriage Act are very important and not complying with the Act may give rise to concerns about the validity of a marriage.

The safest course of action for authorised celebrants solemnising marriages is to avoid any such issues by complying with the guidance on the vows set out below.

While a couple is entitled to rely on the certificate issued by the relevant State or Territory BDM as evidence that the marriage was registered and that it was solemnised in accordance with the vows in section 45, that does not mean that non-compliance with the requirements for vows may not become an issue for a couple in individual cases.

While the married couple may gain reassurance from the BDM marriage certificate, serious consequences may follow for an authorised celebrant who has not followed the requirements.

You can though, add your own touch with personal vows. see the separate tab of What do I say? for more detail.

WEATHER

Are rainy days good luck?

Many cultures and traditions regard rain on your wedding day as a Good Omen, after all there are 365 days in the year and so you have just 1 in 365 chances of rain.

I add some of these words if it rains on your special day:

Water is cleansing, washing away any challenges of the past and leaving only your future together.

It is a symbol of the new life, you are starting together,

Washing away all of the past and leaving only the fresh aroma of the new life that is your future

It signifies an expected longevity and strength of your marriage and a symbol of your unity, because, as you know, a knot that becomes wet is extremely hard to untie – therefore, when you “tie the knot” on a rainy day, your marriage will be even more difficult to unravel!

The falling of tears from heaven are a blessing and symbolise the last tears that you will shed in this union.

Should I have a weather contingency plan, if my wedding is to be outdoors?

Definitely! Even if the weather charts predict fine weather, it is a wise couple that has a contingency plan in place. It may not be needed but this is after all, Australia where whilst the climate is generally moderate we can experience wind, rain, hail, heat, storms or even a combination of all-in-one day.

WEDDING CAKE

Are we supposed to smash the cake in each other’s faces?

No, not at all. This is very much a modern and perhaps temporary fashion.

Historically the bride cuts the cake to symbolize the loss of her virginity but now the Couple usually cut the cake together as one of their first acts as Husband & wife.

The bride holds the knife, and the groom places his hand gently over hers as a symbol of support and guidance.

They then cut and remove the cake slices before the groom tenderly feeds a slice to his bride to demonstrate his commitment to providing for her.

The Bride then reciprocates to demonstrate her commitment to nourish him.  This tender and romantic act of affection and symbolic promise to forever assist & care for one another.

This symbolic act has however somehow evolved into couples shoving the cake for a bit of fun however, rather than a first act of unity, it might result in the couple first argument as husband and wife.

Once the bride and groom have fed each other, they then share their wedding cake with their guests as a gesture of good luck and affection.

How many slices per cake?

Most bakers seem to refer to the Wilton Cake Guide which goes into details as to how to cut a variety of cake shapes

If you find a better guide to include, please let me know.

The chart below is a quick indicator:

 What is the tradition in regard to wedding cake?

In Roman and Medieval times, a stack of buns was used, and the groom would break bread over his bride’s head and then share the crumbs with their guests as a sign of sustenance and good fortune.

A Yorkshire tradition was for the bride to eat a small piece of bridal cake and then, throw the remainder over her head to ensure a life of wanting for nothing

Over the centuries the cake has evolved to multi-tiered cakes and more recently to combination cakes or different shapes, sizes and even components.

The Bride and Groom are guaranteed a prosperous life together if they can kiss over the three to seven tiers.

Although wedding cakes can be any colour, commonly the base colour should be white to represent purity (virginity) and so the ‘wedding cake’ was traditionally referred to as the “bride’s cake.” In Victorian times, white icing was very expensive and so a white cake was also highly desired as a symbol of social standing, importance and wealth. Rather than ‘virginity’, these days the white has come symbolise the new beginning and the purity of love.

A more modern fashion, is for wedding cakes to match the bridal dress and/or bouquet, in colour and design.

Historically the bride cuts the cake to symbolize the loss of her virginity but now the Couple usually cut the cake together as one of their first acts as a marriaed couple.

The bride holds the knife and the groom places his hand gently over hers as a symbol of support and guidance. They then cut and remove the cake slices before the groom tenderly feeds a slice to his bride to demonstrate his commitment to providing for her. The Bride then reciprocates to demonstrate her commitment to nourish him.  This tender and romantic act of affection and symbolic promise to forever assist & care for one another, has however evolved as a ‘fun’ phenonium or fashion for some couples to shove the cut slice cake into the partners face and might result in the couple first argument as husband and wife.

Once the bride and groom have fed each other, they then share their wedding cake with their guests as a gesture of good luck and affection.

Note that the lower level only is cut, and that others, such as the caterer or family members, commonly slice the remained & distribute the cake, with the exception of the top layer which is preserved for the couples’ first anniversary or their first child’s Christening, whichever comes first.

The cake cutting is commonly followed by the first dance.

You will find a list of suppliers on my Helpful People page.

What are wedding Cake Charms?

Like Christmas puddings, there was a custom of baking charms (symbolic trinkets) into wedding cakes, but guests need to be warned of this to avoid choking or injury. Probably for both hygiene and safety, this was replaced with a ribbon surrounding the cake so that the charms can readily and easily be removed without risk. There are ten traditional cake charms:

      • Anchor, airplane, car or carriage, for travel & adventure
      • Clover or Horseshoe for good luck
      • Flower for new love
      • Heart for true love
      • Highchair for the arrival of children
      • Purse for wealth
      • Ring for the engagement
      • Rocking Chair for long life
      • Wedding bells for the marriage
      • Wishing Well so that all dreams & wishes may come true

You can find suppliers on my Helpful People page.

What exactly do the bride and groom do during the cake cutting?

The cake cutting at a wedding reception usually takes place after dinner and just before the first dance.

It is the final course of the meal but is also a celebration of doing things together. It is also a keepsake because many will take a piece home and may even keep it for some time.

Hold the cake knife (or ceremonial sword) together and cut into the bottom layer of the cake.

Your caterers will then section the cake for distribution.

Depending on the type of cake, you might even keep a layer for your 1st anniversary or first child’s Christening.

Your MC should make an announcement and the photographer should be given 15 minutes notice to prepare.

The only exception to the timing of the cake cutting, is if you have older guests who might have to leave early and so for their consideration, you could cut the cake earlier. It is after all your wedding and, so you are not bound by traditions.

What is a Groom’s cake?

A forgotten tradition in the United Kingdom, in early USA, around the time of the Civil War, there was also a Groom’s Cake, a tradition which is still practiced in the southern states of the USA but not commonly elsewhere. The Groom’s Cake is usually chocolate, but can be other flavours, and is decorated or designed to represent the groom’s hobbies, interest, pastimes, or individual tastes and these days is often representative of his favourite sports teams.

The wedding cake is traditionally a fruit cake which includes alcohol in its ingredients as a preservative. Properly sealed in a cake tin or airproof wrappings, the cake can be frozen and will last for a considerable time unless of course it contains creams which will not last.

One tradition that dates back about 300 years, is that after the wedding cake is sliced, it is often distributed in decorative waxed paper bags. This is so guests can take a slice home and it is claimed that a person sleeping with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow will dream of their future partner that night.

You can find suppliers on my Helpful People page.

WEDDING PLANNER

Is it hard planning a wedding?

Depending on the size and style of wedding, it can be a great deal of work.

There will be many decisions to make and many negotiations to resolve and so if you are not accustomed to making a great many decisions within the pressure of a time frame, you may find it stressful. It might be helpful to have a look at the checklist I prepared.

The more decisions you make early, the easier it will be to stick to a specific theme and plan.

What exactly does a wedding planner do?

While I, as the Celebrant, will write and conduct the actual Ceremony, the Wedding Planner will work with you to create a theme and design for anything from the reception to the entire event (from start to finish).

All planners will coordinate the wedding day logistics performing tasks such as instructing vendors including florists, decorators, and caterers, and will be working to a schedule.

Many planners will also design the entire event while others may only work with the reception venue. If you choose to do use a wedding planner, make certain that you read your contract thoroughly to see what is and what is not included.

You can find vendors on my  Helpful People page..


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WITNESSES

Can a Celebrant charge for the service of procuring witnesses to a marriage?

It is not advisable or desirable but there is no provision in either the Marriage Act 1961 or Marriage Regulations 2017 that prohibits charging a fee, but it is important that marriage celebrants avoid both actual and potential conflicts of interest and benefits to business, so that they can properly fulfil their duties as a marriage celebrant.

The object of having the two witnesses is:

  1. their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or
  2. they can testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed.

It is therefore desirable that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage and so, arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage.

This of course means that the authorised celebrant is not responsible for providing witnesses and should be cautious if such a request is received from the parties.

In summary, the answer is yes, a  Celebrant can charge for the service of procuring witnesses to a marriage but has to be certain that the object & purpose of the witnesses is satisfied and that there is no conflict of interest.

Can I have three or more witnesses at my wedding?

Everyone present at the Ceremony gives witness to your marriage but only two people over 18 are permitted to sign the legal documents.

The certificate is an official certificate of the marriage and additional material must not be placed on it.

The two witnesses are the official legal witnesses to the marriage under law and their presence serves a legal purpose. That purpose is to be able to swear in court, or elsewhere, as to the identity of the parties or to testify to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed, including the date and place.

Adding other names to an official certificate serves to confuse this important matter.

If couples request additional signatures on the parties’ certificate an authorised celebrant should explain that it is not possible because it is an official certificate, and the two witnesses serve an official purpose.

Similarly, additional signatures should not be added to the back of the Form 15 (Ceremonial) certificate.

Under section 44 of the Marriage Act, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years. These are the persons who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates, the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.

The object of requiring the attendance of witnesses is that their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or to testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed. It is therefore desirable that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage. Arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage. The authorised celebrant is not responsible for providing witnesses and should be cautious if such a request is received from the parties.

Can my Mum be a witness?

Yes of course.

The object of requiring the attendance of witnesses is that their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or to testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed. It is therefore desirable that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage. Arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage.

Do my witnesses need to be Australians?

No, just have to be present and be able to understand the events occurring.

Under section 44 of the Marriage Act, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years. These are the persons who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates, the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.

The object of requiring the attendance of witnesses is that their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or to testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed. It is therefore desirable that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage. Arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage. The authorised celebrant is not responsible for providing witnesses and should be cautious if such a request is received from the parties.

Each of the parties to the marriage, the two witnesses and the authorised celebrant must sign all three marriage certificates. This must occur immediately after the solemnisation of the marriage.

The signatures should be the usual signatures of the persons. The parties should sign in the same manner as they did on the NOIM. Care should be taken to see that the signatures of each party accords with the names as set out in the body of the certificate. Where a discrepancy appears by reason of the use of a particular form of signature, the words ‘usual signature’ should be added beside the signature. Where there appears to be a likelihood that difficulty may occur in deciphering a signature, the names should be added in pencil, preferably in block letters.

If either of the parties or the witnesses is unable to write, a mark may be made by the person as follows:

      • [Name – e.g. John X Brown]
      • [His mark]
      • [Name of witness to the mark]

Any of the persons present (over the age of 18) may witness the mark. The person witnessing the signature or mark must actually be present and witness the signature or mark.

Who can be witnesses at my wedding?

Under section 44 of the Marriage Act, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years. These are the persons who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates, the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.

The object of requiring the attendance of witnesses is that their evidence will be available to establish the identity of the parties or to testify as to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed. It is therefore desirable that the witnesses know the parties to the marriage. Arranging for the attendance of witnesses at the marriage ceremony is the responsibility of the parties to the marriage. The authorised celebrant is not responsible for providing witnesses and should be cautious if such a request is received from the parties.

Why can’t my underage children be my witnesses at my wedding?

If the children are under the age of 18 years they cannot sign the certificate.

Under section 44 of the Marriage Act, a marriage may not be solemnised unless at least two persons are present at the ceremony who are, or appear to the person solemnising the marriage to be, over the age of 18 years. These are the persons who will sign the marriage certificates in their capacity as the witnesses to the marriage. When completing the marriage certificates, the witnesses to the marriage should record their names in full, including any middle names.

If they are over the age of 18 years, and acting as one of the two witnesses, they may sign the certificate in that capacity but not if under 18.

 


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 ©2018 Copyright -A Life Celebrant- Lou Szymkow

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Lou Szymkow – A Life Celebrant

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