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FAQ

How soon can we get married?

How soon can we get married?

You can be married one month from the date your Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) is signed with your celebrant.

I want to get married sooner than one month. Is this possible?

I want to get married sooner than one month. Is this possible?

You can get married only under exceptional circumstances. To get married less than one month after signing your NOIM form with your celebrant, you must be granted a shortening of the statutory notice period by a prescribed authority such as the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Registrars and Deputy Registrars (in your State) can also grant shortenings. As a Prescribed Authority, BDM will only consider your application if you:

  • Have already lodged a completed and signed NOIM with your chosen celebrant (or are lodging your NOIM with the Victorian Marriage Registry)
  • Provide your original signed and completed NOIM and all supporting documents, as sighted by your celebrant
  • Meet one of the exceptional circumstances laid out by the Marriage Regulations in Schedule 1B
  • Complete a notice of period shortening application form, which includes a statutory declaration clearly explaining your reason(s) for applying for a shortening
  • Provide documents as evidence to support your application, and
  • Provide a signed letter from your chosen celebrant, confirming they are willing and available to perform your marriage on your chosen date if the shortening is granted

You will also need to pay a non-refundable shortening fee.

Although BDM will consider a shortening application if you meet the above requirements, you may not be granted the shortening if BDM is not satisfied with your application.

What does “conjugal status” mean?

What does “conjugal status” mean?

Conjugal status indicates whether someone has been married and if so, how that marriage ended.

  • If you have not been previously married or your marriage was annulled your conjugal status is “Never validly married”
    Note: Do not use the term ‘single‘ on a Notice of Intended Marriage form or marriage certificate, as it does not indicate whether you have been married previously
  • If you have been previously married and divorced your conjugal status is “Divorced”
  • If you have been previously married and your spouse passed away, your conjugal status is “Widow” (women) or “Widower” (men)
What legal paperwork do we need to sign?

What legal paperwork do we need to sign?

  • The first document you sign is a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) (this must be with your celebrant one month before your marriage)
  • The second legal document you sign is the Declaration Of No Legal Impediment To Marriage stating that you a free to marry. This is signed as close as possible to your wedding day. The best possible time to sign the Declaration is at rehearsal
  • During the ceremony you “sign” 3 documents: the “Official Marriage Certificate” (which your celebrant sends back to BDM, together with the Declaration and the NOIM within 14 days of your marriage), the decorative Marriage Certificate which you keep, and a duplicate copy of the Official Marriage Certificate which your celebrant keeps for 7 years in case he/she is ever audited
What documents do we need to produce?

What documents do we need to produce?

  • Your celebrant must sight your original (not a photocopy) Birth Certificate (an extract is acceptable), or a current Passport to establish your identity
  • If your Birth Certificate is used, your celebrant will also need to see photo ID (e.g., a driver’s licence)
  • If either or both of you have been previously married, your celebrant will need to sight the original Divorce Orders, or Death Certificates, whichever is applicable. Accredited translations will be necessary if documents are not in English
My Fiancé/Fiancée does not speak or understand English. Is this a problem?

My Fiancé/Fiancée does not speak or understand English. Is this a problem?

If your Fiancé/Fiancée does not speak English, an interpreter will be necessary. You must source the interpreter and they must be authorised and independent. Prior to your marriage, your celebrant must receive a statutory declaration by the interpreter stating he/she understands and is able to converse in the language/s required. Your celebrant can provide the necessary statutory declaration for you to take to your interpreter.

Immediately after the ceremony the interpreter must give the authorised celebrant a certificate of the faithful performance of his or her services as interpreter. The certificate must be in the prescribed form. Your celebrant will be able to provide the prescribed form.

How long does a wedding ceremony take?

How long does a wedding ceremony take?

It is entirely up to you as the couple. You may prefer a short ceremony (about 15 minutes), or you may prefer one that takes longer, which includes readings, rituals, etc. A full ceremony is about 30 to 40minutes.

Can we write our own wedding ceremony?

Can we write our own wedding ceremony?

Absolutely, however there are a couple of compulsory elements that must be included in order for you to be legally married. These are the Monitum (which authorises the celebrant to solemnise your marriage according to Australian law); set words that you both must repeat after the celebrant, in the presence of at least two witnesses; and the signing of the legal documentation. Apart from these, you have complete control, including the order of your ceremony.

We want our parents as our Witnesses to our marriage. Is this possible?

We want our parents as our Witnesses to our marriage. Is this possible?

Yes this is possible. Witnesses can be any person who is at least 18 years of age. It can be a family member or a friend, or even a complete stranger. However, you must have two witnesses attend your wedding ceremony, to witness the ceremony and sign the Marriage Certificates.

Can I use the Marriage Certificate we receive at our marriage ceremony as evidence of a name change?

Can I use the Marriage Certificate we receive at our marriage ceremony as evidence of a name change?

On your wedding day you will receive a decorative certificate known as the “Marriage Certificate”. This certificate is decorative and only for your own records. It is NOT a legal document, and it is not acceptable as proof of marriage for official purposes such as updating/changing your driver’s licence or passport to your married name.

If you will be updating/changing your name, you must apply for an official Marriage Certificate from Births Deaths and Marriages in your State as official proof of marriage.

Please note that the Registry can only issue an official Marriage Certificate once your marriage is registered by your celebrant. It is your celebrant’s responsibility to ensure the marriage is registered by lodging the documents within 14 days of your wedding ceremony. Once lodged, it then takes BDM up to 4 weeks to process.

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

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

As your Commitment ceremony is not legally recognised in Australia, you will not be issued with an official Marriage Certificate by Births Deaths and Marriages. After your ceremony, you should contact Births Deaths and Marriages in your State to complete and lodge an Application to Register a Change of Name. You will then be issued with a Change of Name Certificate. This can be used to change all your identification documents.

How do I know if a Celebrant is any good?

How do I know if a Celebrant is any good?

That’s a difficult one, but your ‘gut feeling’ is a good guide. Always ask yourself:

  • Do they present well?
  • Have they a good speaking voice?
  • Are they able to give good advice?
  • Are they able to prepare a ceremony that reflects what we want?
  • Does he/she inspire confidence that you won’t be disappointed?
  • Their experience?
  • Their qualifications?
What do Celebrants charge?

What do Celebrants charge?

There is no set fee. It would be wise to contact at least three celebrants. The celebrant is the most noticeable service provider for your very special occasion, and you will want that event to be presented in a way that is memorable only for all the ‘right reasons’.

Must we do a ‘pre-marriage education’ course before getting married?

Must we do a ‘pre-marriage education’ course before getting married?

No, it is not a requirement, but celebrants are legally required to inform you about Relationship Education courses. Your celebrant should provide you with a relationships brochure “Happily Ever..Before and After”. This brochure contains important information for couples that wish to marry by referring them to services in regard to relationships and marriage.

Should we have a rehearsal for our wedding ceremony?

Should we have a rehearsal for our wedding ceremony?

It is recommended that you hold a rehearsal close to your wedding day. This enables potential problems to be identified and participants to know their role, helping to ensure your ceremony will run smoothly. While it is often advisable, it is not always necessary for the rehearsal to be held at your venue.

Can we choose our own vows and other ceremony content?

Can we choose our own vows and other ceremony content?

Absolutely. Your celebrant will help you find and/or write the vows and will create a ceremony which reflects your wishes. Please note that Australian law imposes minor inclusions in the ceremony wording, which a celebrant has no say over. Please refer to “Can we write our own wedding ceremony” above.

Can we get married in a church and have a civil ceremony later?

Can we get married in a church and have a civil ceremony later?

Yes this is possible, but not if the second ceremony is represented as “your wedding”. It is illegal to do this. The alternative is that you can have a civil ceremony with some religious observance, or that the second ceremony be presented as a celebratory event with family and friends in which you re-affirm the vows previously taken.

What is the difference between a baptism and a naming ceremony?

What is the difference between a baptism and a naming ceremony?

A baptism is a religious sacrament which welcomes the child into the church culture and community. Naming ceremonies welcome children into their family culture and community. It is possible for a child to have both.

What role might the family play in a Naming Ceremony?

What role might the family play in a Naming Ceremony?

The celebrant will encourage participation of all who are part of the child’s circle — parents, grandparents, mentors, and friends. Participation takes many forms. Most families take the opportunity to celebrate family values and talents and express their wishes for the child.

Do we have to appoint godparents?

Do we have to appoint godparents?

No. Some people prefer to appoint “guardians”, “mentors” or use some other term of choice or simply call on those present to take an active role in being good role models for the child.
Note: the appointment of a guardian in a ceremony creates no legal obligation for that person in the event of the death of the parents.

Are both the child and godparent presented with a Naming Certificate?

Are both the child and godparent presented with a Naming Certificate?

Yes, either child or godparent, or both. Some celebrants may charge extra for both certificates.

Is there an age limit for being Named?

Is there an age limit for being Named?

No. In fact some parents prefer to wait until their children are old enough to choose between a baptism and a Naming and to appoint their own role models.

Can a person change their name legally by having a Naming ceremony in which they adopt a new name?

Can a person change their name legally by having a Naming ceremony in which they adopt a new name?

No. The only ways a person can legally change the name on their birth certificate are to apply to the office of Births, Deaths and Marriages for a Change of Name Certificate or by getting married and taking the new spouse’s family name. However, a ceremony can still celebrate such a change of name and make it public.

What does ‘other life ceremonies’ include?

What does ‘other life ceremonies’ include?

Almost anything that is important enough for people to want to celebrate with a special rite or by staging a “special function”. These might include ceremonies of:

  • Commitment
  • Engagement
  • Renewal of Vows
  • Anniversary
  • Divorce
  • Special Birthday
  • Remembrance
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Retirement
  • In Pets we trusted
  • Life before death
  • Other life celebrations
What’s the difference between a marriage ceremony and a commitment ceremony?

What’s the difference between a marriage ceremony and a commitment ceremony?

The marriage ceremony creates a legally recognised relationship between a man and a woman. The commitment ceremony also creates a celebration between couples, who may choose not to legally marry, or for a couple to celebrate their relationship with family and friends. This ceremony cannot be represented as a wedding ceremony.

Can my brother or sister deliver our ceremony?

Can my brother or sister deliver our ceremony?

Yes they can. In fact anyone can, so long as they are at least 18 years of age. However, they are unable to deliver the compulsory legal elements that must be included in order for you to be legally married. These are: the Monitum (which authorises the celebrant to solemnise your marriage according to Australian law); set words that you both must repeat after the celebrant, in the presence of at least two witnesses; and the signing of the legal documentation. The celebrant must be present.

Celebrating your life and the life of your loved one and how far you or they have come is important — celebrate you, celebrate your loved one!

Live! Love! Life! Learn! Laugh!