The Legal Words for a Marriage Ceremony

Legal words to be said by the Authorised Marriage Celebrant:

Authorised Marriage Celebrants are required to ensure that the guests understand that the marriage ceremony is a legal one, which is why surprise weddings (where one party is surprising the other) are not allowed, nor can the celebrant pretend that your 2nd ceremony is legal if you were married overseas.


If the marriage ceremony is a civil one, Section 46 of the Marriage Act requires the marriage celebrant, before 2 witnesses, to say the Monitum:

Legal words to be said by the celebrant: 

 “I am duly authorized by law to solemnize marriages according to law. 

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

or words to that effect.


Legal words to be said by the marrying couple:

There are specific words that must be communicated by the couple to ensure the marriage is legal.

The following words must be used in a civil marriage:

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse.”

or words to that effect.

You may add your own personal words before or after these words, but the act of saying these words is a major component of the ceremony conducted by Commonwealth authorised marriage celebrants who conduct civil ceremonies, or Registry Office celebrants. 

There are some slight changes that are permissible. For example:

  • One may leave out 'lawful' or 'wedded', but not both.
  • One may use a First and Middle or First and Last name for A or B, but provided the couples full names (AB) are used, (including middle names) sometime before the Vows, preferably early in the ceremony
  • The first phrase may become 'I ask everyone here to witness', but not 'I ask family and friends here to witness', etc.

Under Australian law, the point at which you are married is when you will take each other as husband/wife/spouse, in front of two adult witnesses and a registered marriage celebrant.

Your  Celebrant from The Celebrants Network has been trained to ensure that your marriage ceremony includes the necessary components of a legal marriage as well as the personal elements that make your ceremony special for you and your guests

Last modified on Friday, 25 August 2023 13:55