To be married in Australia you are required to lodge a written Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) with a celebrant between 18 months and one calendar month prior to your wedding day. Once the NOIM is received by the celebrant you will need to show either your original birth certificate or your passport and, if previously married, evidence of the end of that marriage. The information given on the NOIM is used to generate the Certificate of Marriage and the Declaration.
The Declaration must be signed prior to the wedding, this document states the couple are 18 years or more, not married to anyone else and that there is no legal reason why they should not be married.
After the ceremony there are 3 documents for the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant to sign.
1. Certificate of Marriage (forwarded to BDM after solemnisation)
2. Marriage Certificate Register (kept by the Celebrant)
3. Commemorative Marriage Certificate (for the couple to keep)
The words of the ceremony are entirely up to the couple, with the following legal inclusions to satisfy the Marriage Act:
- As the celebrant I must introduce myself at the beginning of the ceremony
- I must say the Monitum before the exchange of vows
- And the couple must say: ‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, ABC, take you, XYZ, to be my wedded wife/husband/spouse’.
It is a legal requirement to have two witnesses to the ceremony and they must be at least 18 years of age. These witnesses must provide their full and proper names.
Change of name after marriage
Any person who marries may choose to assume their spouse’s surname. This is done as a matter of custom and not of law. A certificate of marriage issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is usually sufficient evidence to have personal documentation changed to a married surname.
If you are planning to marry interstate, you can lodge your completed and signed/witnessed Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant via email or post. If you lodge via email you are then required to bring the original Notice of Intended Marriage with you to give to your celebrant prior to the wedding.
If one of the couple lives overseas and is waiting on an Immigration Visa
If one of the couple lives overseas and is waiting on an immigration visa you can still plan your wedding by having the person in Australia sign and lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage with a celebrant. As the celebrant I can then provide a letter to the embassy of the country where the overseas person resides which states I have accepted to solemnise the marriage between the couple and I have lodged the NOIM.
Information for persons living overseas who wish to be married in Australia
As a couple marrying in Australia you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) sometime in the period between 18 months and 1 month prior to the wedding. In the case of couples living overseas, it will need to be completed and witnessed where they are living and then forwarded to the celebrant. Only certain categories of persons are authorised under the Marriage Act to witness a NOIM, these are Australian diplomatic and consular officials, an authorised employee of the Commonwealth or a notary public. You need to show an original birth certificate or a current passport when completing this form. You can then either email or post the NOIM to the celebrant and when you arrive in Australia you will be required to show your passport or birth certificate and if either of you have been previously married the celebrant is also required to see your Divorce papers or a death certificate of a previous spouse.
To be married in Australia you must be 18 years of age. The law requires you to have two witnesses to the marriage. You will need to check with your local authorities on what documentation is required to have your marriage recognized in your country.
Many countries require you to obtain a certified copy of your Marriage Certificate. This is issued by the office of Births, Deaths and Marriages once your marriage is registered. Some countries require you to have an Apostille (authentication) Stamp attached to this certificate. You can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to do this.