Legal requirements of a marriage ceremony in Australia

There are 4 requirements that need to be fulfilled in a ceremony according to the Marriage Act 1961 to make sure your marriage is legal in Australia. Everything else is custom or tradition.

  1. The Monitum as per section 46
  2. Exchange of wedding vows – section 45(2)
  3. Witnesses to witness your ceremony
  4. Sign the relevant paperwork before and on the day
1. The Monitum as per section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961

The Monitum is a set of words that are stated in the Marriage Act of 1961 as per section 46 that a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant must say to solemnise a marriage in Australia in front of two witnesses.

“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 witness, I am to remind you 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 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

2. Exchange of wedding vows as per section 45(2) of the Marriage Act 1961

The exchange of wedding vows is a set of certain words that the Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant must say to solemnise a marriage in front of 2 witness’. This is stated in the Marriage Act of 1961 as per section 45(2).

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B (or C.D), take thee, C.D (or A.B), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse)”

3. Witnesses

You will need to have 2 witnesses for your ceremony. They must be over the age of 18 and be able to understand and hear the ceremony.  The witnesses should be known to you. The reason for the witnesses is to make sure your marriage is valid, and identities are correct if at any time your marriage should be contested.

It is the couple’s responsibility to provide witnesses for your ceremony.  If one of your witnesses does not understand English or cannot hear, they can still be a witness to your wedding but you will need an interpreter who is not a party in the marriage or in connection with the ceremony.  

Immediately after the ceremony the interpreter will need to hand a signed certificate of the faithful performance of their services of an interpreter. The form can be found at https://www.ag.gov.au/marriageforms#_Download.

This is also a good idea to have an interpreter if you have family and friends that do not understand English very well. The form is purely for the witnesses and the couple being married.

4. Sign the relevant paperwork before and on the day

On the day during the ceremony after you have said your vows I will have you both sign 3 documents. They will all be marriage certificates. 1 I will keep on file for a minimum of 6 years, 1 I send to Birth, Deaths and Marriages to register your marriage and the other is for you to take home on the day.

The certificate you take home on the day cannot be used to change names or for any legal purposes. You will need to apply for an official Certificate of Marriage from Births, Deaths and Marriages. I will talk more about this to you and will also send you’re a reminder.

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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.