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The Legalities of Love

The low down on what you need to know about getting married in Australia.

Marriage is the legal union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.

An important part of my role as a celebrant is ensuring that all the legal requirements for the marriage are met.

Many of my couples ask about the legal processes of getting married in Australia, so here it is laid out simply for you.

The first step is to ensure you are ELIGBLE to marry, this means that you and your partner must be:

  • Not be married to someone else - this includes marriages that have taken place overseas (any same sex marriages that were legally performed in another country were automatically legally recognised in Australia on the 9th December 2017)

  • Not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister

  • Be at least 18 years old, it is possible for two people to marry if one person is over 18 and the other is over 16 by applying for permission through the court.

  • Understand what marriage means and both partners must freely agree to the marriage

  • Give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame.

Before your wedding you must complete two legal documents, these are:

The Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) must be completed at least one month, but no longer than 18 months prior to your ceremony date

To complete the NOIM, you will need to be able to provide evidence of your date and place of birth and photographic identification. Your passport is useful to use, otherwise your birth certificate and driver’s licence works fine. Other forms of ID are also accepted - your celebrant will be able to advise you on this.

You will also need to provide proof of the end of any previous legal marriages by way of divorce, death or nullity certificates.

Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage which is a statutory declaration that there is no legal reason that the two of you can’t be married. This document must be completed as close as possible to your wedding, It is often done at the rehearsal (another good reason to have a rehearsal) or can be done just before you walk down the aisle.

On the day of your marriage there are three legal components to your wedding ceremony – words, people and forms.

The words:

Your celebrant must clearly recite the words of the monitum:

“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 two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. “

The two of you will say the legal vows

“I ask the people here present to witness, that I, AB, take you, CD, to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse.”

The people:

Your must have two witnesses who are over the age of 18. They need to be able to hear and understand your vows and sign the Certificates of Marriage. Your witnesses do not need to be part of the wedding party.

The forms

You and your spouse (once you have said your vows are married), your celebrant and both your witnesses must sign three Certificates of Marriage

  • You keep one of the certificates

  • Your celebrant keeps one copy

  • You celebrant sends the third certificate to Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) to register your marriage

That’s it, you are now legally married.

The certificate you receive on the day is commemorative and not accepted at government offices as proof of marriage, so you must apply for a copy of the official marriage certificate from the BDM in the state your marriage took place (fees vary from state to state).

Once BDM have registered your marriage, you are able to change your surname on official documents if you have chosen to use your spouse’s surname, using the official registered certificate.

Look out for my next blog when I will talk about changing your name after marriage.

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