I think wedding ceremonies should be 90% about the ceremonial side of things – the meaningful, fun, inclusive, humorous, loving element – and 10% about the legalities. However, the legal part is a necessity and I thought it might be helpful for me to talk you through what needs to be done here in Australia to make sure everything is legit.
Lodging your intention to marry
At least one calendar month prior to your ceremony date (and no more than 18 months in advance) you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage This document will need to be signed either in the presence of your celebrant, or a JP, or any other person as listed on page 4 of the form. Once the celebrant has received this, it is lodged. If you have any queries on this form, or are unable to complete in Australia due to one or both of you being abroad, your celebrant will be able to advise you of your options.
Declaration to marry
Prior to your ceremony, you both will need to sign a declaration of no legal impediment to marriage. This is usually signed at the rehearsal, or on the day of the ceremony itself (but prior to the ceremony).
Legal wording during ceremony
I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriage 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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Bride and Groom:
I call upon the persons here present to witness that [name], take thee, [name], to be my lawful wedded wife/husband
There are some minor variations that can be made on both of these, but they are minor. Your celebrant will be able to provide you with these options.
Legal documents during ceremony
You will require two witnesses, and they will watch you sign the following, and then sign themselves:
- The official certificate of marriage, which is the document sent to the relevant Birth, Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for registration purposes
- A second official certificate of marriage which will be kept by your celebrant
- A certificate of marriage, which is given to you both. Please note that this is not the legal certificate you will need to use for changing names or to legally evidence marriage. You will need to apply for an official marriage certificate from the relevant Births, Deaths and Marriages office for a copy of this.
If all of above feels a bit dry and, well, boring, it’s only a small (yet necessary) part of your day, and the right celebrant will make sure people remember the meaningful parts.