Thinking of eloping? Whether you want to do so to save money, to negate the ‘inviting the masses’ issue, or you just want a really intimate commitment with only you and your witnesses then I’m able to help you with your elopement ceremony, ensuring it meets all your needs.
As a starter, I’ve produced some guidance on how to organise the perfect elopement:
Submit your completed notice-of-intended-marriage at least one calendar month prior to your elopement date with your celebrant. Unless there is a reason which falls under the exceptional circumstances (please ask me for more advice on these), you will need to lodge this at least one calendar month before your chosen date to get married.
Think about what kind of elopement you want.
Do you want super-intimate with only two witnesses or something with a small, intimate group of family and/or friends?
If you do want to invite guests, do you want them to be aware that you are eloping, or do you want to invite them under a different guise?
Do you want to include personalised vows in the ceremony?
Do you want any readings included? Would you like any of your guests to say something during the ceremony?
Do you want your elopement to be captured by a professional photographer and/or videographer to then share with others at a later date?
Decide where you would like to hold your elopement ceremony. I have conducted elopements:
at parks (depending on your type of elopement, it’s worth checking first to see if you need any kind of permit for that particular park)
on beaches, including those on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts
in a coffee shop (with the bride and groom in shorts and thongs)
at the home of a couple, just before they were to fly off for a trip of a lifetime
at a small family 30th birthday party which turned into a surprise elopement
How are you going to share the news with your family and friends after the elopement? It must seem an odd question to ask, but quite often couples elope, and then spend days, weeks, even months, before they share the news because, well… basically they’re not sure how to do so! It’s worth having a think about this beforehand; are there those whom you want to tell first face to face, or are you happy to make an announcement on social media?
Please do not hesitate to contact me about elopements – I have a real sense of adventure and love surprises, so am more than happy to get fully on board to make your elopement totally right for you.
“Thank you for your wonderful assistance on our surprise evening… even your commitment to your backstory so my family wouldn’t guess you were a celebrant. Thanks for fitting in with our very simple, kinda last minute decision and making it super chilled with was just perfect for us.” Kellee and Ben (left)
Have you been thinking; ‘what must and must not happen during a wedding ceremony?’
Have you wondered what the legalities are within the ceremony itself?
Are you worried you’ll have to say long vows or ring exchange wording?
Well, there’s actually very little which must happen during your ceremony and equally very little that must not happen. But, before you think this is a nagging, boring post, dictating to you about traditions, read on…
What Must Happen
Your celebrant must say the legal wording which is ‘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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’ I know that some find this paragraph insensitive and, as an advocate of Marriage Equality, I am more than happy to include a precursor to this paragraph which helps guests understand that a marriage between a man and a woman is not necessarily the belief of all.
Bride and groom must say the mandatory words ‘I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (name in full), take thee (name in full) to be my lawful wedding (wife/husband). There are some slight changes in the wording which is a permissible (such as ‘you’ instead of ‘thee’).
The following three documents must be signed by the bride and groom in presence of two witnesses, followed by the celebrant:
the big red register (which your celebrant keeps)
the fancy looking certificate of marriage (which you keep)
the other one (which your celebrant submits to births, deaths and marriages)
That’s it… that’s all the ‘musts’ for a wedding ceremony!
You must not do something just because it’s tradition. This is your wedding, and you can do it your way. You may want to follow traditions, and that’s completely fine, but if you want to arrive together, do it! If you don’t want to exchange rings, don’t! If you’d prefer to have a shot of tequila rather than ‘kiss the bride’, go ahead!
You must not sweat the small stuff. The best weddings I’ve conducted are where the bride and groom are present and enjoying the ceremony. I know this is easier said than done, but your guests are there to celebrate with you, and you’re there to marry the love of your life. Enjoy every second of it and it will be the best day of your life. No-one will ever say ‘it was a crap wedding because the flowers were a centimeter out of place’.
You must not get stressed if something doesn’t go according to plan. I’ve had ceremonies where someone who was going to do a reading couldn’t as they were so emotional. I’ve had the wrong song played on the entrance of the bride. I’ve had children come wandering up and chat to the bride and groom during the ceremony. I’ve had my heel caught in the paving and couldn’t move for a few seconds (pictured right). And do you know what… with every single ceremony I’ve always had people come up to me and say it was the best ceremony they’ve ever seen.
Of course, the most important thing is to enjoy your day – please feel free to contact me to discuss further how to make your day absolutely perfect for you.
An ‘Easy To Fill In But Easy To Make Mistakes’ Document
Filling in a Notice of Intended Marriage looks straight forward – and it is. But there are some common mistakes often made.
If you want to marry in Australia you need to fill in and lodge with your celebrant a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) between one and 18 months before your wedding date. You can find this document here New-notice-of-intended-marriage
If you want to know who can marry in Australia, read this or feel free to contact me.
Wherever you are based, you will need to lodge your NOIM with your Celebrant. Although this is reasonably straight forward, often couples make mistakes. I can help you with filling in the form, or if you’re filling out at home, the below may help you avoiding any mistakes.
Write really really neatly and use capital letters. Or, if your writing is a bit tricky to read, you can type the information
If you make a mistake, don’t use white-out. Cross the mistake out once with a line, initial it, and write the correct information next to it
Do not sign until you are in front of your witness, and, if you’re not using your celebrant as your witness, make sure the person you choose is eligible to witness the document. The only eligible witnesses in Australia are:
A Commissioner for Declarations
A Justice of the Peace
A barrister or solicitor
A legally qualified medical practitioner
A member of the Australian Federal Police or police force of State/Territory
Mistakes Made on Specific Questions
Question 3: Usual Occupation
Sometimes people will write ‘administration’ or ‘army’. Think of the following: if someone asked you what you do for a living, you wouldn’t answer ‘I am an administration’ or ‘I am an army’. Therefore you need to write ‘administration assistant’ or ‘soldier’.
Question 5: Conjugal Status
If you’ve never been married then you need to write the words ‘never validly married’ (not ‘never married’)
Question 10: Mother’s Maiden Name
This question is often misunderstood; it requires your mother’s first, middle and her last name at birth.
If you have any specific questions about any of the other elements of this form, please don’t hesitate to ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478 041 227. Always happy to help.