March 2020 turned out to be a very difficult time for many marrying couples as Coronavirus (Covid-19) hit Australia hard.
So here is a short article about the state of play with weddings as at 1 April 2020.
The rules for weddings are changing constantly and are different in each State/Territory during the coronavirus pandemic - check your State Health department's website and talk to your marriage celebrant.
Should we postpone our wedding?
For many couples this may be their only, or their preferred choice because travel is limited within Australia, overseas guests won't be able to attend, some guests are older or have underlying illnesses, many venues are closed, large gatherings are banned.
Choosing a new date in consultation with your celebrant and your other wedding providers will give you peace of mind and enable you to have your wedding day just as you planned it, but a bit later.
You may have to complete a new Notice of Intended Marriage if the one you have already submitted will be out of date by your wedding day - they last for 18 months. Your celebrant will advise you.
Can we still get married now?
Yes you can. The Australian Government has made special provisions for wedding ceremonies. They can go ahead with just five people present.
So this means the two of you, your two witnesses over the age of 18 and your celebrant. Inside or outside - it is just five people. No one else can be present at the ceremony. You must all be appropriately distanced and your celebrant will take additional hygiene precautions - for example use of separate pens or disinfectant wipes between people signing.
Some people are choosing to have a photographer as one witness, so that they can still have photos.
If you have already given one month's notice to your celebrant you can hold your ceremony as soon as you like. Be aware that your celebrant may not be able to conduct your ceremony due to health concerns or travel restrictions but can transfer your paperwork to another celebrant if necessary.
Many couples are choosing to marry on their original date with these restrictions and have decided that they will celebrate with family and friends at a later time - your first anniversary may be an ideal choice.
Talk to your celebrant about the possibility of holding a non-legal ceremony as part of your postponed celebration so that you can still have the special day that you were planning
Can we still arrange a marriage?
Yes you can. Most celebrants are very accustomed to arranging marriages "at a distance". You do not have to meet in person to:
- make a booking enquiry - celebrants will be happy to talk to you by phone, Skype, Zoom etc and to email you a quote and information.
- submit a signed Notice of Intended Marriage Form (a police officer or one of the witnesses listed on the form can witness your signatures as this must be done face to face). You can then email this form and a scan of your identity documents to your celebrant
- plan what you would like in your ceremony - with emails, skype, Zoom and other video-conferencing platforms a "face to face" meeting is easy. Your celebrant can even check your ID documents by video-conference
- Note that while you can do a lot of the legal work and planning without meeting you cannot get married over video-conferencing - you, your celebrant and two adult witnesses must be physically together.
What if we want to get married really quickly?
Couples have to give one month's Notice of Intended Marriage unless they qualify for a Shortening of Time - under the very limited provisions set out in the Marriage Regulations 1963. You can read more about Shortening of Time here.
Your celebrant from The Celebrants Network will be able to assist if you think you need to apply for a Shortening of Time.