Weddings – Frequently Asked Questions
- How far in advance of wanting to get married do I need to notify a celebrant?
The minimum notification is one calendar month prior to the ceremony. This is what is legally called lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM). A NOIM cannot be lodged sooner than 18 months. Generally, both parties sign the NOIM together with the celebrant witnessing each party’s signature. If for some reason one party is not able to sign at least one month prior to the proposed date of the ceremony, one of the parties can sign with the other party signing in the presence of the authorised celebrant, before the marriage is solemnised.
Even though the NOIM only needs to be lodged one calendar month prior to the date of the ceremony, ultimately, making contact with the celebrant as early as possible gives everyone plenty of time to ensure lodgement is on time.
- What if I have good reasons to get married sooner than one calendar month?
Only if exceptional and limited circumstances exist, a Prescribed Authority may approve an Application for Shortening of Time. These are limited to:
- Employment related or other travel commitments
- Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations
- Medical reasons
- Legal proceedings, or
- An error in giving notice.
If this is the case, you will need to make an appointment with the Prescribed Authority and take the completed NOIM and any other documentary evidence to prove your request such as, medical certificates, travel documents or letters of employment.
- What documents will I need to give to the celebrant?
To fill in a NOIM, a celebrant needs to have evidence of each party’s date and place of birth. This can be an original Birth Certificate or Passport (Australian or overseas). The celebrant also needs photo identification as evidence to verify your identity. This can be a driver’s license, proof of age/photo card or Passport. If either party has been previously married, the celebrant will need to sight the actual Certificate of Divorce, Divorce Order or Decree Absolute or the original Death Certificate of the former spouse.
If an original Birth Certificate or Original Death Certificate needs to be obtained, these can be acquired by contacting the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state or Territory of the birth or death. In Victoria you can apply online at www.bdm.vic.gov.au. If a party does not have their actual Certificate of Divorce, Divorce Order or Decree Absolute, they should request another copy from the court of issue.
- Can I get married if I am under 18 years of age?
The marriageable age in Australia is 18 years for both male and female. A person under the age of 16 years is not able to marry under any circumstances and neither are two people under the age of 18 years. A marriage may take place if one of the parties is of marriageable age and the other between 16 and 18 years if:
- A judge or magistrate has made an order authorising the person to marry a particular person of marriageable age, and
- The required consents (usually parental) have been given to the marriage.
- Are witnesses required for the ceremony?
Two people are required who are over the age of 18 years to witness the marriage ceremony and the signing of the Marriage Register and the Marriage Certificates. Witnesses can be family members, friends or anybody who is over 18 and understands English, otherwise an interpreter can be utilised.
- Can we write our own vows?
You can most definitely write your own vows. Apart from certain legal wording that a celebrant has to include, you can include your own wording for your vows.
- Is there a set order of the ceremony that we need to follow?
There is no set order to your ceremony. Together we can create a ceremony that best reflects your relationship, desires and ideas.
- What proof of our marriage will we receive?
At the ceremony you will sign three certificates: the official standard marriage certificate which is sent to the Births, Deaths and Marriages for registration of your marriage, the authorised celebrant’s register kept by the celebrant, and the ‘party marriage certificate’ which is the certificate you get to keep on the day of the ceremony. This certificate is not proof of marriage for official purposes. Couples can request for an official Marriage Certificate to be ordered for them by the Celebrant at the time the marriage is registered at Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM), that is sent to their desired address.
- What do I need to do if I wish to change my surname after marriage?
You do not need to register a change of name but need to apply for your official standard marriage certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages. See Changing of Name for more details. If you get married overseas, you will need to apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages to register a change of name.