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getting married - your legal obligations
While choosing a dress, flowers and a venue are very important parts of planning a wedding celebration, the most important task is ensuring that your marriage will be legally recognised. Below is a summary of the legal matters I will discuss with you prior to the ceremony. For detailed information please visit the official site of the Attorney General's Department.
getting 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.
As your celebrant I will guide you to help you understand these requirements.
You don't have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. You can find marriage visa information on the Department of Home Affairs website, if you hope to live in Australia after your marriage.
On 9 December 2017, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 commenced. The Act changed the definition of marriage and provides for marriage equality in Australia. The right to marry in Australia is no longer determined by sex or gender. More information is available on the Marriage equality in Australia page.
providing notice of your intention to marry (NOIM)
Prior to the wedding we can meet and fill out and sign a Notice of Intended Marriage Form. This forms needs to be completed no less than one month prior to your wedding and can be done up to 18 months in advance. If you live far away (including overseas) we can make arrangements for your NOIM to be witnessed by a local prescribed authority. Both parties are required to sign the NOIM prior to the ceremony as we can not perform surprise weddings in Australia. Both parties need to be consenting to the marriage willingly. Both of you will also need to sign a Declaration of Marriage Form, declaring that there is no legal impediment to your marriage - this is generally done at our rehearsal or as close to the ceremony as conveniently possible.
Before the wedding I will need to see the following documentation:-
- An original Birth Certificate/or Passport for each of you (or extracts) and some photo identification e.g. driver's license or passport.
- A Passport, if you are a citizen of a country other than Australia.
- A Statutory Declaration if you were born overseas and have no record of your birth (or lost your documentation).
- If you have been previously married you will need to present either a Decree Absolute if you have divorced or a death certificate if you are a widow/widower.
- If you are under 18 years of age, you will need to provide your parents consent and an order from a Magistrate.
- If your documents are in a language other than English you will need to have them translated and authorised by a person who is a legally recognised translator.
I will ensure all legal documentation is registered with the Qld Births, Deaths and Marriages (or relevant state registry), within fourteen days of your Marriage.
before the ceremony
Prior to the ceremony both parties will need to sign a Declaration of Marriage Form, declaring that there is no legal impediment to your marriage - this is generally done at our rehearsal or as close to the ceremony as conveniently possible. It is also essential that I sight all original ID documents prior to the ceremony, which provides evidence of date and place of birth, identity and the end of any previous marriages for each party. I may request that you complete a statutory declaration to support your evidence if documents are of concern.
participating in a marriage ceremony
When thinking about how you would like to design your ceremony you may ask family and friends to participate in aspects such as poems, readings etc. However, there are several legal requirements that can only be fulfilled by an authorised marriage celebrant.
At the ceremony, the authorised marriage celebrant must:
- consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant
- take a public role in the ceremony
- identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage
- be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage, according to law
- say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before the marriage is solemnised
- be in close proximity (ie nearby) when the vows required by subsection 45(2) are exchanged. It is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant must see and hear the vows being exchanged
- be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for it elsewhere in the ceremony
- be part of the ceremonial group or in close proximity to it; and
- sign the papers as required by the Act.
On the day of your marriage, you will need two witnesses (over the age of 18) to sign the official documents. They do not necessarily have to be in the bridal party.
after your get married
On the day of your wedding, you will sign three marriage certificates. Each certificate should be signed by you, your celebrant and two witnesses. Your celebrant will give you one of the certificates as a record of your marriage. I will provide drafts of these documents prior to the ceremony to ensure information is correct.
I will submit all of your paperwork online and via registered post to Qld registry of births, deaths and marriages (or relevant state of marriage) within 14 days.
changing your name through marriage
Many people choose to use their spouse’s family name once they are married—it’s a custom and not the law.
If you were married in Australia, you don't need to apply formally for a change of name with us. Usually personal documentation, such as your driver licence and passport, can be changed to your married name when you provide a standard marriage certificate which can be purchased from the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state you were married.
How to change your name through marriage
If you choose to change your name when you get married, you’ll need to tell various government agencies, banks, utility suppliers and other businesses your new married name so that your personal details can be recorded and updated.
You may be asked to:-
- send a letter or email
- complete a change request form (online or one they send out to you)
- visit an office in person.
Organisations will also have different requirements on what proof they need, some may want:
- to see your standard marriage certificate
- a certified photocopy of your standard marriage certificate for your account file with them
- evidence of updated photo ID
- a combination of identity documents.
For more details CLICK HERE
applying for a standard certificate of marriage
The certificate issued by the registry of births, deaths and marriages is required for many official purposes such as changing name. I will provide you with the opportunity to apply for a copy of this certificate or you can apply with BDM after your wedding. CLICK HERE to read about applying for a marriage certificate from Qld Births, Deaths and Marriages including fees and selection.
getting married overseas
The Smartraveller website has detailed information about getting married overseas.
If you intend to marry overseas, please note that marriage celebrants authorised in Australia can only perform legal marriages within Australia.
An overseas marriage cannot be registered in Australia, and the foreign marriage certificate will be evidence the marriage has occurred. Ensure you keep this certificate as it may not be easy to replace if lost and it provides the only evidence of the overseas marriage.
Please note that it may not be possible to rely on a marriage certificate issued overseas for some purposes in Australia. A party to a marriage which takes place overseas may not be able to rely on an overseas marriage certificate to have an Australian driver's licence or an Australian passport issued in their married name.
An overseas marriage will generally be recognised in Australia if it:
- was a valid marriage in the overseas country
- would have been recognised as valid under Australian law if the marriage had taken place in Australia.
The Marriage Law and Celebrants Section collects, uses, discloses and stores your personal information in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1988. For more information on how we use your personal information and who we regularly collect information from, or disclose information to, in the course of managing the Marriage Celebrants Programme and our related functions, refer to our disclosure notice under Australian Privacy Principle 5:
Marriage Celebrants Programme - APP 5 Notice [PDF 157KB]
Marriage Celebrants Programme - APP 5 Notice [DOCX 97KB]
If you wish to access or seek correction of your personal information or make an enquiry or complaint about your privacy, contact the departmental Privacy Contact Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Code of Practice for marriage celebrants
The Code of Practice for Marriage Celebrants is contained in Schedule 2 of the Marriage Regulations 2017 - Print
1 APPLICATION OF THIS CODE OF PRACTICE
This Code of Practice applies to marriage celebrants.
Note 1: A marriage celebrant is a person registered under Subdivision C of Division 1 of Part IV of the Marriage Act 1961: see subsection 5(1) of that Act.
Note 2: Under paragraph 39I(1)(b) of that Act, if the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants is satisfied that a marriage celebrant has not complied with an obligation under section 39G of that Act, including this Code of Practice, the Registrar may take disciplinary measures against the marriage celebrant.
2 HIGH STANDARD OF SERVICE
A marriage celebrant must maintain a high standard of service in his or her professional conduct and practice. This includes (without limitation) ensuring the following:
(a) appropriate personal presentation for marriage ceremonies;
(b) punctuality for marriage ceremonies;
(c) accuracy in preparation of documents and in the conduct of marriage ceremonies.
3 RECOGNITION OF SIGNIFICANCE OF MARRIAGE
A marriage celebrant must recognise the social, cultural and legal significance of marriage and the marriage ceremony in the Australian community, and the importance of strong and respectful family relationships.
4 COMPLIANCE WITH THE ACT AND OTHER LAWS
A marriage celebrant must:
(a) comply with the requirements of the Marriage Act 1961 and the Marriage Regulations 2017 which apply to the marriage celebrant; and
(b) observe the laws of the Commonwealth and of any State or Territory in which the marriage celebrant solemnises marriages; and
(c) avoid unlawful discrimination in the provision of marriage celebrancy services.
5 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MARRIAGE CEREMONIES
A marriage celebrant must respect the importance of the marriage ceremony to the parties and the other persons organising the ceremony. This includes (without limitation) the following:
(a) giving the parties information and guidance to enable them to choose or compose a marriage ceremony, including information to assist the parties to decide whether a marriage ceremony rehearsal is needed or appropriate;
(b) respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the parties, including by:
(i) arranging for appropriate facilities to interview parties; and
(ii) dealing appropriately with personal documents and personal information; and
(iii) maintaining appropriate facilities for the secure storage of records; and
(iv) ensuring the return of all personal documents belonging to the parties as soon as practicable (unless it is necessary to keep the documents for the ceremony);
(c) giving the parties information about how to notify the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department of any concerns or complaints they may have regarding the marriage services provided by the marriage celebrant.
6 KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS SERVICES
A marriage celebrant must:
(a) maintain an up to date knowledge about appropriate family relationships services in the community; and
(b) inform the parties to the marriage about the range of information and services available to them to enhance, and sustain them throughout, their relationship.
making a complaint about a marriage celebrant
If you want to make a complaint about 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. Ministers of religion for recognised denominations can be found on the Find a marriage celebrant page.
If you want to make a complaint about a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant, you should consider:
- whether you can settle the matter directly with the celebrant
- that we do 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 us at email@example.com to request more time.
If you have any concerns about my professional performance I would appreciate if you could raise these concerns directly with e so that we can work to resolve them or alternatively you can find information on the AG website about the process.
Enquiries to the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section
For any further information about getting married in Australia contact the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing the online form.
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