The Legal FAQs...
Who Can Marry?
Following changes to Australian law in December 2017, two adults of any gender may marry provided they are legally free to do so. See the 'Are You Old Enough', 'Are You Free To Marry?' and 'Can I Marry A Relative?' sections.
Giving Notice To Marry
Couples must lodge a completed, signed Notice of Intended Marriage with a registered marriage celebrant no later than one month ahead of the proposed wedding date.
In some circumstances you may be able to marry under the one month notice period. Please ask me about this as it is fairly complex, requires special permission from a prescribed authority and supporting evidence to be provided, and may not be guaranteed.
Are You Old Enough?
In Australia, a person can marry from 18 years of age without any restrictions other than the person is entering into the marriage freely and is of sound mind.
However, a person can also marry at 16 years of age provided that:
a) their partner is aged 18 years or older, and
b) the underage party has the consent of their parents and a magistrate.
(Special forms must be completed for this. The marriage cannot proceed unless the conditions in a) and b) are met. No exceptions!)
The underage party must also be entering into the marriage freely and be of sound mind
There are no restrictions on how "old" you are when you marry in Australia! You must be entering into the marriage freely and be of sound mind.
Are You Free To Marry?
Couples must be legally free to marry. This means you cannot still be married to someone else if you want to marry your current partner. If you are widowed or divorced, you will need to show your celebrant a death or divorce certificate before the wedding. No exceptions!
Can I Marry A Relative?
Australian law does allow certain relatives to marry. You cannot marry a direct ancestor (parent, grandparent, including formally adopted) or direct descendant (child or grandchild, including formally adopted). No exceptions!
However, first cousins can marry each other and aunts and uncles can marry nephews and nieces. (This surprises and shocks many people as it is not permitted in many other countries!)
As I only conduct my ceremonies in English, the couple and their witnesses must be able to understand English sufficiently to comprehend what they are listening to (the ceremony and legal vows) and what they must sign (the official marriage paperwork).
If either party to the marriage or their witnesses do not understand English fluently, an interpreter must be engaged to ensure that the non-English speaking persons understand their legal obligations in participating in a marriage ceremony. The validity of the marriage depends upon this.
Should you require an interpreter for your wedding ceremony or witnesses, you can search for a local-area interpreter via the website for the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) Ltd, at http://www.naati.com.au/.
Traditional vs Legal Elements In Weddings
Many elements in modern Australian Anglo-Celtic weddings hark back to the long-held traditions of Christian religious weddings. However, some things considered traditional in weddings may not be a legal requirement of marriage. For example, being given away, exchanging rings, and having the post-ceremony kiss are all optional. Ask me about this if you have any questions or concerns.
The Legal Vows of Marriage
Both parties to the marriage must say some specific words as part of their marriage vows in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961 or the marriage is not valid:
"I call upon all persons here present to witness
That I, (full name of partner speaking),
Take you, (full name of their partner),
To be my lawful wedded (husband/wife/spouse)."
You can say anything else you like as vows, but these words must be included in the ceremony.
The Celebrant's Authority
The celebrant must say specific words from the Marriage Act 1961 to declare their authority to solemnise (officiate) the marriage. This will be explained to you further when we meet.
Couples need to have two Witnesses present at their wedding. Witnesses can be family, friends or complete strangers if you're eloping, but they must be over 18 and agree to participate as a Witness (i.e. you can't force someone to be a Witness). The Witnesses must be present at the ceremony when the celebrant declares their authority and the couple states their legal marriage vows, and they are required to sign the paperwork at the end of the ceremony.
What Are Your Fees?
See 'Costs & Inclusions" for what you'll pay and what you get for your money.
But Why Pay So Much For 20 Minutes Work On My Wedding Day?
The "20 minutes" is the time taken to deliver your wedding ceremony on the day. What people don't see is the hours of work that have gone into planning and developing your ceremony, meeting with you to complete paperwork and discuss the ceremony, and the time taken to rehearse the ceremony in your chosen venue (if required).
I Need To Marry Quickly - Do I Have To Wait A Month?
Couples normally give one month's notice prior to getting married by lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage with their chosen celebrant. However, there are some special circumstances which enable you to obtain permission to marry under the month-and-day notice period. If needed, ask me about how to do this.
My Fiance Lives Overseas - What Do We Need To Do?
If you live here, you can lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage, and your fiance can complete the papers when he/she arrives after gaining a visa. Copies of information your fiance needs as part of his/her visa application can also be provided by your celebrant.
Can I Write My Own Vows?
Of course you can - in fact, you can write the entire ceremony yourself, if you wish. However, you need to be aware that some specific legal information including required marriage vows must be incorporated into your ceremony.
Do You Let Us Do What We Want In Our Ceremony?
As long as the legal elements are incorporated in your ceremony, you are welcome to structure the ceremony to feature anything else that you like. Obviously, if something you aimed to do could be illegal or possibly risking public safety, I would strongly (but courteously!) advise you against doing it.
How Long Does A Ceremony Take?
The average civil ceremony without readings and rituals in it will take 12-15 minutes to conduct, including the processional (walking in), signing and recessional (walking out). When readings and rituals are added into the ceremony, it may take as long as 20 to 25 minutes or more. Civil weddings rarely go beyond 30 minutes. It is possible to have an ultra-short, sub-10 minute ceremony if desired. By comparison, some religious faiths take up to an hour to conduct a marriage ceremony according to the rites of the particular faith.
Do You Supply A Table And Chairs For Signing At Ceremonies?
No, I do not supply these items because they pose a public liability insurance risk. Talk to me if you need these items and cannot provide them for your ceremony.
How Do I Change My Name After Marrying?
Although you receive a Marriage Certificate at your wedding, you CANNOT use this to change your name because it is not one of the Federal Government's approved primary identification documents. You need to order a Registered Copy of the Marriage Certificate from the Registering Authority of the state/territory in which you married.
If I Cancel My Ceremony, Will You Give Me A Refund?
Yes - but the amount of the refund will depend on how much you have paid and what work I have performed for you prior to your cancelling the ceremony. My Full Terms and Conditions of Booking will outline the circumstances under which you can cancel your ceremony and how refunds are paid.
Are There Occasions When You Would Cancel On Couples?
Yes, in the following circumstances:
1) Failure by the clients to pay for my ceremony services in full before the day of the wedding.
2) If the bride/groom (and official witnesses) were under the influence of alcohol/mind-altering substances. (Witnesses can be replaced but obviously the couple can't. The ceremony can be delayed or rescheduled if these circumstances arose).
Proud to be a founding member
(and current committee member) of the
Professional Celebrants Association