Legal requirements

Marriage laws in Australia are a function of the federal government.

All civil marriage celebrants must be authorised by the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department.

All marriages require a month's notice to the celebrant the couple chooses, whether that be a religious or civil celebrant.

Occasionally shortening of time may be granted by a magistrate or registrar in specific extenuating circumstances, but there is no guarantee of this.

The papers you sign for your wedding day, are among the most important and binding legal documents you will sign through out your lives.

The marriage contract is a legal commitment to respect, care and support each other and any children of your marriage. The contract covers property rights, custody rights and impacts on inheritance rights.

Hence, requiring you to lodge the Notice Of Intended Marriage at least a clear month prior to the wedding gives you both a "cooling off" period to assess the importance of the commitment you are about to enter.

Your ceremony needs to reflect the significance of this occasion.

There are some specific legal requirements for the wording of a marriage ceremony, unless the marriage celebrant is a Minister of a Recognised Religion or a religious celebrant from Subdivision D.

Civil marriage celebrants must ensure: 

  • They say that they are authorised by law to marry you, and give a definition of Marriage according to Australian law
  • You, as the marrying couple, each must call upon the witnesses to witness that you take each other as husband / wife/ spouse or words to that effect.

Lodging the Documents

You must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage form with the celebrant you choose at least a full month before the date of your wedding - whether the celebrant is a civil or religious one, or one at a registry office or court house.

You must be over the age of 18 years and not legally married to any other person anywhere. In very limited circumstances a court may allow the marriage of a couple where ONE of the partners is aged between 16 and 18 year

To verify age and marital status you will need

  • Birth Certificates or Passports and satisfy the celebrant that the information you have provided is correct .e.g photo ID or other ID support.
  • Divorce or Death certificates if you have been married before

These must be Original documents - NOT photocopies.

Your celebrant is required to give or give access to you and your partner, a copy of the Australian government's publication Happily Ever Before and After.

  You need two people over the age of 18 to act as your witnesses.

Ceremony Requirements:

As noted above, there are only a few specific legal requirements for the wording of a marriage ceremony.  Your celebrant will talk to you about these.

Cultural, religious and personal preferences usually determine the rest of the ceremony content. 

A professional civil marriage celebrant will assist you to design your own unique ceremony, one which will reflect the values you both hold, in an appropriate style.

You may

  • choose your style of wedding traditional, modern, casual, themed, - short or long -
  • select options from information provided by your celebrant and other wedding planning resources
  • write your own vows, or the whole ceremony if you wish.

You will sign three certificates at the ceremony, together with your witnesses and the celebrant.  You will keep one, the celebrant will keep one and the third will go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to register your marriage.

It is advisable to listen to your celebrant's advice, as they are the person most likely to have experience in ceremony design and delivery.
Last modified on Sunday, 10 December 2017 11:42