Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
              Jennifer Cram
What You Have to do to Get Married
While from the legal point of view getting married in Australia is quite simple and easy, there are certain things the Marriage Act requires you to do, and if you don't do them then your marriage celebrant cannot go ahead with the wedding because to do so would be an offence that could result in a prison term. All celebrants have to comply with the Marriage Act so there is absolutely no leeway on this, and no point in trying to get round it!

When you book with me I'll give you a full list of all the prison terms and fines for doing the wrong thing when it comes to marriage - such as telling lies on the Notice (6 months/$500), Bigamy (5 years) or being a party to visa fraud (10 years/$100,000).
Giving Notice
You must give at least one month's notice of your intention to marry by
  • completing a Notice of Intended Marriage form
  • signing the form in front of a qualified witness (listed on page 4). NB the requirements differ depending on whether you sign the Notice in Australia or overseas.
  • Giving it to your celebrant (generally referred to as lodging it
What if You Don't Want to Wait a Month?
  • Unless you fall into one of five very specific circumstances, such as one of you being terminally ill, and you can provide satisfactory documentary proof to back up your claim, you will not be granted permission to shorten the waiting time.
  • Shortening of time can only be granted by an official (known as a Prescribed Authority) and is decided on a case by case basis after consideration of all the evidence and how it supports a case for one of the 5 specific grounds.
  • Your celebrant must confirm, in writing, that she is available and willing to conduct the ceremony on your chosen day, and that she supports your application.
  • An expiring visa, pregnancy, or just being in a hurry are not grounds for shortening of time
  • There is a fee to apply for shortening of time, payable whether or not it is granted.
Proving Who You Are and that You are Free to Marry
  • You must show your celebrant original government-issued documents as evidence of your date and place of birth (birth certificate or passport)
  • You must show your celebrant Photo ID
  • If you have been married before you must show your celebrant either a divorce certificate or the death certificate of your former spouse
  • Photocopies, even if certified by a Justice of the Peace or Notary Public are not acceptable
  • Any documents not in English or a language the celebrant reads well must be accompanied by an official translation
Signing Declarations Before the Ceremony
  • Both of you must sign declarations that you are free to marry
  • These must be signed close to the ceremony date
  • They can only be signed in front of your officiating celebrant
The Ceremony
  • You must both be physically present in the same space, together with your celebrant and two adult witness (no skype or proxy weddings allowed)
  • The Celebrant must recite a passage from the Marriage Act before you say your vows
  • Your full names must be used in order to adequately identify you to all present (I know, I know, but it is the law)
  • You must say your vows using a certain form of words
  • These must be signed close to the ceremony date
  • They can only be signed in front of your officiating celebrant

NB once you have said your vows you are legally married.


If you don't want to have "those words" said...

....Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman ..... These words have to be said by the celebrant before the couple makes their vows in order for the marriage to be legal.

Many people, myself included, find having to include this current legal definition of marriage offensive, and are working hard to change the Act, ASAP to eliminate gender as a factor in the availability of legal marriage to all adults in Australia.

I completely understand not wanting to include this statement in your marriage ceremony, however, there is no way round it. It is enshrined in the Marriage Act, Section 46 (1) .

So, if you are determined not to listen to those words in your marriage ceremony you have these options:

1. Get married in church (in a mainstream denomination). Yes, the ceremony has to strictly follow the approved liturgy of that denomination, so you will be foregoing the personalisation available in a civil ceremony, and you will have to meet the criteria for marrying in that particular denomination (some won't marry individuals who are divorced, not a member of the denomination, or couples who are living together), but Section 47 doesn't apply to mainstream religions.

2. Fly to New Zealand, or some other country which already has marriage equality, and get married there. The downside of this is that, on return to Australia, while your marriage will be recognised, your marriage certificate will not be for purposes of name change with most government authorities (eg the Passport Office), so you will have to apply, and pay for, a legal change of name which will retrospectively change your name on your birth certificate if you were born in Australia. If you were born overseas you will get a change of name certificate which you will need to present together with your birth certificate any time you need to show proof of birth.

3. Get married legally in private (with just your two witnesses) and for your big wedding have a non-legal ceremony to celebrate the fact that you are already married. You can make promises to one another, but the celebrant has to make it clear to everyone that the ceremony will not create a legal marriage, because you are already married.

After the Ceremony
  • Your celebrant, your witnesses and the two of you must sign 3 documents
  • Your marriage must be registered within 14 days (the celebrant is responsible for forwarding the documents to Births Deaths and Marriages
What you Don't Have to do
  • You don't have to buy a marriage licence (Australia doesn't have them)
  • You don't have to provide a certificate of no singleness or no impediment etc. The Declarations serve that purpose
  • No blood tests involved either.
  • And no residence requirement or special visa required
  • The bride does not have to change her name
What Marrying an Australian Won't Guarantee
Marrying in Australia or marrying an Australian citizen or permanent resident does not guarantee a visa to live and work in this country.
  Please contact me to enquire about my availability and book your ceremony