So! You’ve decided to tie the knot! Congratulations!
You’ve just made one of the most important decisions in your life. Marriage has the power to set the course of your whole life.
Where do we start?
What do you need to do first?
Once you have a fairly firm idea of the date and place of your wedding, the next step is to find and book a marriage celebrant as soon as possible to make sure that they are available to perform your wedding at that date and time. Although all marriage celebrants are trained and authorised to perform legal marriages in Australia, you would want to find a celebrant with whom you have a positive rapport and who you believe ‘get’ what you and your partner are like and how you want to express your love to each other and to your families and friends. The best way to find this out after talking with your celebrant on the phone is of course for you to personally meet with your celebrant at soon as possible.
This first meeting is usually obligation free – and it helps the couple and the celebrant to get a feel of what they are like and how best you can work together.Once you’ve chosen your marriage celebrant, you will need to fill out a form called a NOTICE OF INTENDED MARRIAGE or NIM or NOIM. Your marriage celebrant can email this to you; OR
You can download a copy of this form at http://bit.ly/form13noticeofintendedmarriage
The NOIM needs to be lodged at least one calendar month with your Marriage Celebrant. In other words, if you complete the NOIM on March 15, your marriage may take place on, or after, April 15, This Notice is valid for 18months. The form may be witnessed by the persons listed on page 4 of the form. It must be given to your chosen celebrant personally, or by post, fax or email at least one month before the wedding day. If faxed or emailed, the original copy must be posted to the celebrant the same day. Your celebrant can witness the document in person, and when he/she receives it, it is considered to be “lodged”.
What evidence of identification to we require?
Either your original birth certificate (or original Extract of Birth) OR an original, valid passport (current or expired but not cancelled). These must be sighted prior to your marriage being solemnized. Ideally, these documents should be sighted during a personal meeting with your chosen celebrant at time of lodging. She can then also witness your signature.
What if one, or both of us was born overseas, what form of identification do we need?
If you were born overseas, your original birth certificate, in English (a certified translation of your birth certificate from the Embassy of your country of birth). For overseas citizens, should an original birth certificate not be possible, an original, valid overseas passport is acceptable
I am a widow/widower and my fiancé/fiancée is divorced – do we need any proof of this?
Yes! In the case of a divorce or death of a former spouse, you will need to provide ex‑spouse’s original Divorce paper or Death Certificate, whichever applies. Where the party has been divorced more than once, only the latest Divorce paper is required.
Can we complete The Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) prior to having the original documents that a Marriage Celebrant needs to sight?
Yes, a faxed or scanned copy will initially suffice. However, your Marriage Celebrant will need to sight all the required documents prior to officiating at your ceremony.
My fiancé is overseas and won’t be in Australia until two days before our wedding, what should we do?
Not a problem, as long as at least one party can successfully lodge the NOIM with the Marriage Celebrant at least 31 days prior to your wedding. Your Marriage Celebrant will then have your fiancé sign the NOIM and sight his original documentation when he/she arrives.
We are both interstate/overseas at the moment and won’t be returning to Australia until a few days before our wedding. What should we do?You can download the NOIM from: http://bit.ly/form13noticeofintendedmarriage.
Once you’ve properly filled out the form and have it witnessed by any of the persons noted in the form on page, you can fax or email this to your chosen celebrant at least one month before the wedding day.
If faxed or emailed, the original copy must be posted to the celebrant the same day. Your celebrant can sign the document in person, and when he/she receives it, it is then considered to be “lodged”. Upon your arrival, your Marriage Celebrant will need to sight your original identification documents and verify your signatures as received on the NOIM. In the meantime, we would then communicate by email, telephone or Skype to each other to prepare all the components of your ceremony
Do we need anyone else to sign anything at our wedding ceremony?
Yes, you’re required, by law, to have two witnesses at your ceremony who must be 18 years of age, or over. They can be anyone from your wedding party.
What if immigration is an issue?
One of you can complete the NOIM. Where necessary, if your partner is in the process of applying for a Prospective Marriage Visa, your Marriage Celebrant will provide you with the necessary letter for the Department of Immigration.
Is there a legal age limit before one can marry?
Persons under the age of 18 years cannot legally marry in Australia. Both persons intending to marry must be over 18 years, that is, both parties must be at least 18 years old at the time of signing the NOIM. If one party is under 18, consent of a Court Order is required under section 2 of the Marriage Act 1961. Parental consent alone is not acceptable, although a Judge may consider parental views.
My partner cannot speak or understand English, so what should we do?
Advise the celebrant at the time of the booking. An approved interpreter must be appointed to translate from English to the Mother tongue of your partner and in the reverse. Two Statutory declarations must be signed by the interpreter: one before the wedding to say they are able to translate as required; and two, to say they have completed the duty. The interpreter may also be required to explain the Declarations that the non‑English speaker has to sign before the wedding can take place.
How much will it cost?
The most popular question. Remember that your celebrant holds full legal responsibility to perform your marriage ceremony and register the details correctly. They had to undergo extensive and ongoing professional training in order to do qualify them to do this. Civil celebrants perform multiple roles, including consultant, conductor, officiator, performer, writer, stage manager, public speaker. Celebrants are free to set a charge that reflects and includes:
- Lodging the Notice of Intended Marriage
- Checking Documents
- Consulting with you using a questionnaire to determine what your vision of how you would want to celebrate your love and commitment in a meaningful wedding celebration. Working together with you in designing and creating that personalised wedding ceremony to suit your individual requirements and the law. This may take at least 20 hours, depending on the ceremony.
- Producing Marriage Certificates
- Performing your ceremony at a venue, date and time of your choosing
- Registering your marriage with the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages
- Travel to and from your chosen venue
In addition the celebrant may supply at extra cost
- a PA system
- emails, Skype, STD calls phone and mobile calls
- all relevant administration required
- calligraphy on certificates
Terms of Engagement
Discuss with your celebrant an overall fee, including any added extras, and when a deposit and full payment is required. Most celebrants issue an invoice at the time of Lodgement.
That Big Happy Day!…