Getting Married in Australia

There is certain information I need from you to make sure your marriage will be valid and legal in Australia.  I will briefly outline them for you according to the Marriage Act 1961. 

Who can marry you?

In Australia you are lucky, you have a choice of three different people that can marry you. It all depends on what type of ceremony you are wanting. You can be married by a minister of religion, at a registry office or by a civil marriage celebrant.

I am an Australian civil marriage celebrant, authorised by the Australian Attorney-General’s department. It is my duty to give couples a professional and legal ceremony. I am obliged to allow couples to have a ceremony that is personal to them and that meets their expectations.

Skip the reading,

listen to my podcast with all the answers.

Eligibility of marriage

For me to start any planning of your ceremony with you – there are a few checks I need to make to ensure that both of you are “eligible to be married”

You must be:

  • Both over the age of 18. If one party is under 18 but on the wedding day will be aged 18, this will make the party eligible. (If one of you is under 18, there are special considerations that can be accommodated. But if not, we can move on).
  • Not in a prohibited relationship – A couple cannot be married in Australia according to the Marriage Act 1961 if you are an ancestor, descendant or brother or sister (this includes, full blood, half-blood, adopted, step or foster siblings. In the eyes of the law, regardless of blood – you are regarded as siblings).
  • Not still be in a previous marriage – If one of you are still in a previous marriage you cannot be married until this marriage has been dissolved, by divorce (or death). If you will be divorced by the time of your wedding day, we can still proceed with the planning.
  • Able to give true consent to marry each other – It would be illegal to marry you if I did not receive a genuine consent by either of you. Under the Marriage Act of 1961 in section 23b a lack of real consent could be made due to:
    • duress or fraud
    • not real consent because one of the parties is mistaken to the identity of the other party or as to the nature of the ceremony performed or,
    • not real consent as one or both parties is mentally incapable of understanding the nature of the marriage ceremony.

Once we have gone through each of these areas and established that you are both eligible to marry, we can move onto the planning of your ceremony. It now becomes exciting!

“Notice of Intention to Marry” form

To submit your intentions to marry you must fill in an official form called the “Notice of Intended Marriage.” This form must be filled in and submitted to me, or your marriage celebrant (1) month before your wedding day. See the next section for more information on this. It must be filled in with blue or black pen in UPPERCASE and legible handwriting or digitally filled in.

When filling in this form I will need to sight a few original legal documents from each of you. I only have to sight them. I will not keep copies of them.

*If you need to fill in the form and have it witnessed by another person other than myself please go to your local police station and have a member of police witness your signatures and sight your identification documents.

Evidence of name at birth, birth parents, gender and place of birth

I must see your birth certificate or your passport. This will give me information of where you were born, your name and gender at your birth. I can sight an expired passport, this will be accepted. A cancelled passport would not be accepted.

Photo identification

The other document I will need to see is a photo identification document or card, such as your driver’s licence. If the name or gender is different on this identification, I will need to see original supporting documents. See below for more information on this.

Evidence of previous marriage being dissolved

If either one of you have been previously married, I will need to sight the original of one of the below documents to confirm the marriage has been dissolved by divorce, death or annulment. When you submit the Notice of Intended Marriage form to me, if you are still married this is acceptable as long as your previous marriage is dissolved by the wedding date of this marriage and I have sighted the correct original document as evidence and it is recorded on the Notice of Intended Marriage Form.

These are the documents that are acceptable as supporting documents to show that your previous marriage has been dissolved:

  • Court issued – certificate of divorce (2002 – 2005)
  • Court issued – certificate of divorce – divorce order (2005 – 2010)
  • Court issued – divorce order (2011 – current) issued electronically
  • Court issued – decree of nullity
  • issued – death certificate

What if your name or gender is different from your birth certificate?

If any details have changed since, such as name or gender I will need to see supporting, original documents to support the changes.

I would have to sight one of these original documents. But it must support the change: 

Name change

  • Court issued – decree absolute, or certificate of divorce, or divorce order or decree of nullity
  • Deed Poll certificate (before 1991),
  • Births, Deaths & Marriages issued – change of name certificate
  • Births, Deaths & Marriages issued – marriage certificate

Gender change

  • Births, Deaths & Marriages issued – gender recognition certificate or recognised details certificate

**Very important about your documents**

  • All documentation must be in English. Unless it has been translated by an accredited translator.
  • All documents must be originals not extracts or certified copies. These are not acceptable.
  • Electronic PDF copies of divorce certificates are acceptable.

Notice to marry

In Australia you are required to give 1 months written notice of your wish to marry. This is standard across all states and territories. The written notice is the couple completing the Notice of Intended Marriage form.

A celebrant can receive a form from a couple up to 18 months before the wedding date.

Shortening of time

Sometimes couples will ask for a shortening of time for whatever reason. There are five reasons that you will be granted a shortening of time and it is up to the discretion of the prescribed authorities. A list of prescribed authorities can be found on the Attorney-General’s Department website at https://marriage.ag.gov.au/stateofficers/authorities. You as the couple will need to seek consent for this. 

  • Employment related or other travel commitments
  • Medical reasons
  • Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations
  • Legal proceedings or,
  • An error in giving notice

Declaration of no legal impediment form

In the movies we hear the celebrant or minister of religion ask the guests

“If any of you has reasons why these two should not be married,

speak now or forever hold your peace.”

This form negates using those words because you have signed a declaration to say that you are both eligible to be married to each other.

This form is to be signed as close before the wedding date as possible. Even if you and I have to make a special time to have this form signed.

This form will declare that you are eligible to marry. It is on the back of one of the marriage certificates that you will sign on the wedding day.

It is your official declaration that you are of eligible age and are not married to someone else. If either one of you is still married or under the age of 18, this form declares that you have turned 18 in the time since filling in the “Notice of Intended Marriage” form or that your divorce has been finalised.

This form cannot be signed after the wedding ceremony has taken place.

Location of ceremony

You are free to marry where ever you like in Australia. You can marry at home in your back yard, in a park or on a beach. There a so many venues that have packages for ceremonies and receptions. If you are wanting to marry in a local park there are some rules to marry in parks. It depends on the council of the area. Have a read of my blog post of my favourite “Free” park in Brisbane to get married. It’s beautiful at all times of the year.

Sometimes there are fees, you may need to book and sometimes there are 3 hour limits (this includes set-up and pack-up included) and limits on people attending, so let me know and I can investigate for you.   

If you do decide to get married outside, you need to have a back-up plan in case it rains. I can’t suggest this strong enough. Don’t leave it to chance!

I hope this post helps you and your partner understand a little bit more about getting married in Australia. Please contact me if you would like anything clarified or if you have any questions.

FAQ

Q. Do I need to have permanent residency or be an Australian citizen to be married in Australia?

A. No, you don’t have to be either. Many tourists get married in Australia.

Download my “free” eMagazine

It has lots of ideas of;

  • free outdoor locations
  • ideas for custom vows
  • inspiration for making your ceremony different

I put together this magazine to help you – not drown in all the wedding information.