Frequently Asked Questions

Can a friend or family member deliver the Ceremony?

Persons not authorised as marriage celebrants may participate in aspects of a marriage ceremony as long as an authorised marriage celebrant conducts the ceremony and fulfils all the legal requirements for solemnising a marriage. An authorised marriage celebrant must: * consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant * take a public role in the ceremony * identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage * be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage according to law say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before whom the marriage is solemnised * be in close proximity (i.e. nearby) when the vows required by subsection 45(2) are exchanged. It is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant should ensure that they see and hear them exchanged * be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for intervention elsewhere in the ceremony * be part of the ceremonial group, or in close proximity to it, and * sign the papers required by the Act. To learn more about marriage celebrants, visit the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department website where they include information on becoming a marriage celebrant.

Can I include other children at the same ceremony?

Yes. It is very easy to incorporate an older child into the ceremony, or have a ceremony for twins, triplets, quads etc. In Australia, you can also hold a ceremony for two families who have come together to celebrate. For example read about Tristan and Riley's shared naming day celebration. We held a ceremony that honoured the role of family and friends, and we focused a part of the ceremony on each child and their parents, acknowledging their love and commitment to the individual, and named the child. However in some countries, this is not the case. Please check with your celebrant.

Can we get married next weekend?

In Australia:
If you have lodged a notice of intent to marry form in the required time - a month and a day before your wedding date, and fulfilled the required legal requirements, then yes, you can. If you haven't lodged the notice of intent to marry form within this time frame, then no, you cannot. The notice of intended marriage form needs to be lodged with an authorised celebrant (religious or civil). This form is valid for eighteen months from the date of lodgement.

Under certain circumstances a shortening of this time may be granted by a prescribed authority. For more information ask your celebrant or download a free copy of the Explanatory Material on the Marriage Act which has a section on Shortening of Time.

Changing your name on your passport?

Did you know that in Australia if a change of name on a passport - due to marriage - is applied for within 12 months of the marriage, the Passport Office will issue a new passport free of charge provided there is at least two years still left on the passport. It is issued to the same expiry date. If you apply after twelve months... you have to pay the full fee!

Do we get a certificate for our Wedding Ceremony?

Most celebrants provide a certificate for many different styles of ceremonies. A Marriage Certificate will be signed during the ceremony by the wedding couple, your chosen witnesses x 2 and the celebrant. This Marriage Certificate will then be gven to you on the day to commemorate your marriage, and once the marriage is registered with the Dept of Births, Deaths and Marriages, you can recieve a copy of your official certificate by applying to them directly.

Do we have to exchange wedding rings?

You are not legally required to exchange wedding rings. However, it is a tradition since early times to honour the commitment you are making to each other. The ring has come to symbolise the never ending nature of love.

Nowadays some grooms are choosing not to wear a wedding ring due to occupational health and safety concerns. Some may exchange a ring on the day and wear it only on social occasions. If only one ring is being exchanged, it can be acknowledged that this ring is the symbol for them both of their shared love and commitment.

I had a couple who decided to buy a special gift for each other instead. His present was a set of golf clubs!

Do we have to have Wedding Attendants such as bridesmaids and best-men?

No, this is a personal choice. If you do decide to have wedding attendants, you may wish to choose from one to six for your bridal party, being careful not to overdo if you are planning a small wedding. Nowadays you can also have male and female attendants for either the bride or groom. It is also ok to ask them for equal support rather than having to choose one person to be the best man or chief bridesmaid. At John and Shauna's wedding they gave many of their close friends (about twenty of them) a corsage to wear and they were seated with all of the other guests. When Janice walked down the aisle she had each of her girlfriends give her a rose stem. When she reached the front of the ceremonial area, her sister, Caty, secured them into one bouquet. It was beautiful. Choosing wedding attendants may be easy and help to create a fabulous sense of fun and excitement or, like a bride I had recently who 'sacked' two of her bridesmaids, it can be challenging. Be clear with your attendants what you expect from them: What tasks would you like them to undertake? Are they paying for their outfits?When do you want them to arrive to help - before the wedding, on the day of the wedding? Get clear about everything and then relax and have lots of fun.

Do you bring a Public Address (PA) system?

How disappointing is it not to be able to hear the wedding ceremony? I have received a lot of praise for having a fantastic public address system and high quality microphone. It can make all the difference to a ceremony - people love to hear what is being said! It is a legal requirement (according to The Celebrants Code of Practice) that all registered celebrants ensure the ceremony be audible to all of the guests. Make certain that your celebrant has a high quality and, if necessary, portable (not requiring mains power) public address system. Make sure they can still use it if it's windy if you are going to be on the beach and how they protect against surplus noise across the microphone. Ask if they have cord free hand held microphone for the delivery of readings, poems, etc. Do they have the facility to play your music through their system: cd's, iPod's, computers, connections?

How can I involve a few special family and friends?

There are many ways to include family and friends. The traditional role has been to have them as attendants in your bridal party or you can invite them to: Present a reading, sing a special song, or play an instrument. Be the ring bearer (even if they are not in the bridal party, they can come forward when requested). Be witnesses for the signing of the legal certificates and register. Co-ordinate the music if you are using recorded music. Greet and usher guests to the ceremonial area or their seats. Take responsibility for handing out orders of service, petals, bubbles etc. Be the wedding day co-ordinator - someone who has a clear picture of your vision and ensures that everything is unfolding as you would like. This person can make decisions on your behalf. They can introduce themselves to the celebrant, venue and reception co-ordinators, musicians, etc Provide support for a parent who may be attending on their own. Your friend or family member can take them to their seats, provide them with transport from the ceremony to the reception, ask for the first dance etc. At one wedding the mother of the bride had organised so many other things and yet when it came time to go from the ceremony venue to the reception, she had to ask for a lift and it made her feel very uncomfortable. Be the chauffeurs. Be sure the ceremony starts after they have returned from parking the cars.

How do I choose my celebrant?

There are many different marriage celebrants offering many different styles of weddings. Whether you want a religious, interfaith or civil ceremony you are encouraged to find a celebrant that suits you. Give them a call and have a chat with them. Your wedding ceremony is a very important part of your day and it's essential that you have a ceremony that you will remember, for all the right reasons, for many years to come. If you have to have a registrar or celebrant that is not quite of your liking, due to circumstances outside of your control, then ask if you can have family and friends involved to offer readings, sing or even deliver parts of the ceremony.

Marriage celebrants are encouraged to offer a choice of ceremonies, or assist the couple in writing their own. They are required to abide by the Celebrants Code of Practice. It would be wise to find someone who you feel comfortable with and feel confident that he/she suits your needs and will complement your special day. Ring and make an appointment to meet the celebrant if you are uncertain. It is also advisable to confirm your wedding arrangements in writing in plenty of time before the day.

Also make sure they are registered to conduct marriages.

How long does the ceremony last?

Usually a basic ceremony takes about 20 minutes but it can be up to 30 minutes or more if there are a few readings and other activities included. In Australia, many families are choosing to hold the naming ceremony outdoors. If so, it is important that the location is in the shade, it is quiet and also has the option of seating if there are family members who may need it.

How much does a marriage celebrant cost?

In Australia Marriage celebrants authorised by the Australian Government are entitled to charge for any services that they provide. Each celebrant sets their own fees so you will need to discuss this with your celebrant. The celebrant will cost you more than the cake but usually less than the flowers. More than the limousine but less than the photographer. The memory of a vibrant and professional ceelebrant will stay with you forever. These are some things to consider when choosing your celebrant: *Are they available? (Always a good place to start because if they are not then you don’t need to proceed much further). If they are not available ask them to recommend another celebrant. *Are they government registered and are they a member of any celebrant associations or federations? *What do they include in their services? *Will they support you in having the ceremony that you want? *Do they offer ideas and support to assist you with the writing of your ceremony and preparation for the wedding day? *How many times will they meet with you to plan and prepare the ceremony? *How long before the wedding do they arrive? *How much do they charge? Hint – Don’t make your decision on this factor alone. Charges will vary considerably between celebrants but may not necessarily reflect the ‘value’ they deliver. Some may even not give you an answer in the first call and may wish to meet with you first to find out what you require. *Do they offer a rehearsal off/on-site? Are there any extra charges for this service? *If there is something unique about your proposed wedding, e.g. helicopters, bungee jumps or nature weddings (i.e. just a fig leaf or nothing!), are they willing to participate in this? *Do they have a portable high quality PA system? *How do they prepare their marriage certificates – laser printed, handwritten, calligraphy printed? Is the marriage certificate that is issued by the Registrar after you are married included in their fee? (You will need this if you are changing your name.) *Ensure you reach an agreement on the fees before asking the celebrant to hold the date. *Most will require a booking fee to hold your date and time of wedding in their diary. *Professional celebrants will have a formal schedule of fees which will list their services and also a booking agreement. Find out what charges are non-refundable.

Celebrants have to pay for their own office equipment, stationery, accounting, compulsory celebrant training, insurance, marketing, travel expenses and other sundry expenses. I feel saddened and encouraged to speak out when I hear people say, what 'easy money' it is being a celebrant. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes - financially, emotionally and physically to ensure you, the couple, get the 'perfect day'. There are many hours of work completed for each ceremony. I encourage you to choose a celebrant based upon quality of service rather than price. When you think of the importance of the role of the celebrant and the impact they can have upon your celebration - this calls for a high standard of work.

We want to elope. Do we need witnesses?

Yes, you will need to have two witnesses over the age of 18. You may be able to ask staff from the resort where you are staying, or choose a photographer who has an assistant, or the celebrant may be able to organise for two witnesses to attend. At one ceremony I conducted, the couple had one friend come with them and then invited someone walking along the beach to be a witness. He was visiting from New Zealand and was delighted to assist.

What do we need to do now we've decided to get married?

You need to find an authorised celebrant who can conduct the ceremony at the venue you have chosen, at the date and time you want and find out what is legally required in the country you are getting married. In Australia you can find more information about getting married and find a celebrant by visiting The Marriage Celebrants website or search on the internet or yellow pages.

What documents will we need to provide?

If you were born in Australia you will need to provide your original birth certificate. If you were born overseas, your original birth certificate is preferred, however a current passport issued by your country of birth is acceptable.

If you have been married before, you will need to provide the celebrant with proof that any prior marriage has ended whether by divorce or by the death of the other party.

Should any of the above documents be in a foreign language, you will need to provide a certified translation in English.

If one of you is under 18 years of age, the written consent of your parents or guardian will be required.You will also need an order from the court. (Section 10-21 of The Marriage Act 1961) The Marriage Act 1961 can be downloaded for further information.

Other Countries
Please refer to the legal requirements in your country.

What is the immigration process in Australia?

For a comprehensive list of questions and answers on this subject visit:

Can I change the name on my driver's licence with the Marriage Certificate the celebrant gives me on my wedding day?

No, you will need to obtain your full Marriage certificate from the Register Office. This can take several weeks depending on workload.

I’ve been married 3 times, will I need all of my divorce papers?

No, you will only need your most recent divorce papers.

Can I fill out my Notice of Intended to Marriage before my divorce is processed?

Yes, but you can’t be married until the celebrant has your final divorce papers.

Will my marriage certificate be automatically sent to me when the paperwork has been sent to BDM?

No, if you want a copy of your official marriage certificate, you will need to apply for it through the relevant BDM.

I have changed my mind about who I want as a marriage celebrant. Do I have to lodge a new NOIM?

No, is the responsibility of the first marriage celebrant to ensure the Notice of Intended Marriage form is transferred safely to the second celebrant by hand or registered post. You must ask the celebrant to transfer the notice for you.

We met and married overseas, but would like to have a service with our family and friends present. Can we have an Australian wedding service?

People who are legally married to each other cannot go through a second form of ceremony to each other. Any Australian service would need to be conducted as a renewal of vows.

We have eloped and married in a registry office, but would now like to have a wedding service. Is this legal?

Your registry office wedding is your official service and you cannot have a second wedding service. The second ceremony will need to be conducted as a renewal of vows.

Can I include my pet as part of the ceremony?

Yes! All ceremonies can be tailor made to suit your requirements. If you would like your pet included in the ceremony, just let your celebrant know.

I am in a same-sex relationship. Can I legally marry my partner?

YES!! The definition of marriage has been changed in Australia to be inclusive of same sex couples. This is so exciting and a very welcome change indeed.