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Frequently Asked Questions, & the Answers
1. What are the legal requirements for marriage in Australia?


a. You must both be over 18 years of age.  If one person is under the age of 18, marriage is still possible by parental and court consent as per section 12 of the Marriage Act.


b. A Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) must be lodged with a Celebrant at least one calendar month prior to the wedding ceremony.  I will prepare the document and witness your execution of the document.   I must also sight your original birth certificates or passports.  If either of you have been previously married, I will need to sight an original Divorce Certificate or Death Certificate.


To obtain a copy of your Birth Certificate, or the Death Certificate of your former spouse contact the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.


If you require a copy of your Divorce Certificate or Decree Absolute, contact the Family Law Court in the state in which the marriage was dissolved. For further details visit Family Law Courts.


 * Foreign language documents must be translated into English and a NAATI accredited Translation Certificate supplied.


c. The ceremony must be witnessed by two people, over the age of eighteen years.  I cannot act as a witness.


d. The Marriage Act 1961 requires that certain statements are included in your ceremony.  I will let you know what this entails, at our initial meeting.


2. What if we wish to be married sooner than the minimum time permits?


If special circumstances exist, a Prescribed Authority may approve your Application to Shorten Period of Notice of Intent to Marry.


Special circumstances are:


  • Employment related or other travel commitments.

  • Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations.

  • Medical reasons.

  • Legal proceedings.

  • Error in giving notice.

You must attach documents as evidence of your reason for shortening, such as letters of employment, travel documents, airline tickets, receipts of payment, letters from medical practitioners or court orders.  Your executed NOIM, copies of your supporting identity documents and a letter from your celebrant should also be included.


3. What can and can’t we include in our marriage ceremony?


A Civil Marriage Celebrant has certain obligations under the Marriage Act 1961.  I will explain these to you during our first meeting.  Once these obligations are met, the content of the marriage ceremony is up to you.  I can help you in writing your own ceremony, or I can offer my own writings, to tell your story - it's entirely up to you.  You might like to include symbols, a special dedication or cultural tradition or ritual.  I have many examples for you to access.


4. Who can act as a witness to the ceremony?


Two people, over the age of eighteen are required to act as witnesses.  They should be able to speak and understand English, otherwise an interpreter will be required.  At the completion of the ceremony you, the Marriage Celebrant and the witnesses will be required to sign the Marriage Register and Marriage Certificate.


5. Do we have to attend any pre-marital courses?


No. However you may wish to contact the organisations below:

I will also provide you with the pamphlet Happily Ever Before and After, as is required by law.


6. How do I change my name after the marriage ceremony?


A bride can obtain a marriage certificate after the wedding from the office of Births Deaths and Marriages in the state in which she was married and apply to have her name changed on their records.  Whilst a valid marriage certificate will not change her name on her birth certificate / birth record, it will allow her to legally change her name on all of her identification documents.

 7. Can I use the Marriage Certificate we receive at our marriage ceremony to evidence a name change?


No.  The certificate you receive at the end of your ceremony is a commemorative certificate and will not support your application to change your identity documents.  I will lodge the official documentation with the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages on your behalf after the marriage ceremony.  You should then contact the Registry directly to obtain a legally recognised certificate.


8. We are having a commitment ceremony but I still wish to change my surname.  How do I do this?


As your ceremony will not be a legally recognised marriage ceremony, you will not be issued with an official marriage certificate by the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.  After your ceremony, you should contact the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages and complete and lodge an Application to Register a Change of Name.  The process will cost approximately $90.  You will then be issued with a Change of Name Certificate.  This can be used to change your identification documents.

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