FAQ

How soon can I get married?

You can be married one month from the time your Notice of Intended Marriage is signed and with your celebrant.

I want to get married sooner than one month. Is this possible?

Only under exceptional and limited circumstances. To get married less than one month after lodging your NOIM form, you must be granted a shortening of the statutory notice period by a prescribed authority such as the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Registrars and Deputy Registrars at major regional Victorian courts can also grant shortenings. As a prescribed authority, BDM will only consider your application if you:

  • have already lodged a completed and signed NOIM with your chosen celebrant (or are lodging your NOIM with the Victorian Marriage Registry);
  • provide your original signed and completed NOIM and all supporting documents, as sighted by your celebrant;
  • meet one of the exceptional circumstances (external link) laid out by the Marriage Regulations in Schedule 1B;
  • complete a notice period shortening application form, which includes a statutory declaration clearly explaining your reason(s) for applying for a shortening;
  • provide documents as evidence to support your application, and
  • provide a signed letter from your chosen celebrant, confirming they are willing and available to perform your marriage on your chosen date if the shortening is granted.

You will also need to pay a non-refundable shortening fee.

Although BDM will consider a shortening application if you meet the above requirements, you may not be granted the shortening if BDM is not satisfied with your application.

What legal paperwork do we need to sign?

  • The first document you sign is a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) (this must be with your celebrant one month before your marriage).
  • The second legal document you sign is The Declaration stating that you a free to marry. This is signed before your marriage, but as close as possible to it. If you are having a rehearsal, this is a good time to sign The Declaration.
  • During the ‘signing’ part of your ceremony, you sign 3 documents – the official marriage certificate (which your celebrant sends back to Births, Deaths and Marriages, together with the Declaration and the NOIM within a day or so of your marriage – it has to be with them within 14 days), the decorative Marriage Certificate which you keep, and a duplicate copy of the official marriage certificate which your celebrant keeps for 7 years in case she/he is ever audited.

What documents do we need to produce?

  • Your celebrant must see your original (ie. not a photocopy) birth certificate (an extract is acceptable), or  passport to establish identity. If your birth certificate is used, your celebrant will also need to see photo ID (ie. driver’s licence).  If either or both of you have been previously married, your celebrant will need to see original Divorce Orders, or a Death Certificates, whichever is applicable. Accredited translations will be necessary if documents are not in English.

My fiance does not speak or understand English. Is this a problem?

In this case, an Interpreter will be necessary. The interpreter must be authorised and independent. Prior to your marriage, your celebrant must receive a statutory declaration by the interpreter stating she/he understands and is able to converse in the language/s required. Your celebrant can provide the necessary statutory declaration for you to take to your interpreter.

Immediately after the ceremony the interpreter must give the authorised celebrant a certificate of the faithful performance of his or her services as interpreter. The certificate must be in the prescribed form. Your celebrant will be able to provide the prescribed form.

How long does a civil wedding service take?

This is entirely up to the couple – some couples prefer a shorter ceremony of about 10-15 minutes whereas others may prefer one that takes a little longer which perhaps includes 2 readings – taking about 20-30 minutes.

Can we write our own wedding ceremony?

You can write your own wedding ceremony, however there are a number of compulsory components that must be included in order for you to be legally married. This includes the Monitum which must be said by the Celebrant (it describes marriage as defined by Australian law); some prescribed words that you both must say (it’s very short and you can repeat this after your celebrant); the presence of at least two witnesses (who must be over 18); and the signing of the legal documentation. Aside from these aspects, you have total control, including over the order of your ceremony.

We want our parents to witness our marriage. Is this possible?

Yes. Witnesses can be any person who is at least 18 years of age. It can be a family member or a friend (or even a total stranger). You must have two witnesses attend your wedding ceremony, to witness the ceremony and sign the marriage certificates.

Can I use the Marriage Certificate we receive at our marriage ceremony to evidence a name change?

On your wedding day you will receive a certificate known as the ‘party certificate’. This certificate is for your own records. It is not a legal document, and is not acceptable as proof of marriage for official purposes, such as updating your driver licence or passport to your married name.

If you need a certificate as official proof of marriage, you should apply for a standard marriage certificate from Births Deaths Marriages Victoria if you were married in Victoria, or its equivalent in the State in which you were married.

Please note that the Registry can only issue a standard marriage certificate once your marriage is registered. It is your celebrant’s responsibility to ensure the marriage is registered by lodging the documents within 14 days of your wedding ceremony.

We are having a commitment ceremony but I still wish to change my surname. How do I do this?

As your ceremony will not be a legally recognised marriage ceremony, you will not be issued with an official marriage certificate by the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. After your ceremony, you should contact the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages in your state and complete and lodge an Application to Register a Change of Name. The process will cost approximately $95. You will then be issued with a Change of Name Certificate. This can be used to change your identification documents. An Application Form is available from the BDM Change of Name link as follows: http://www.bdm.vic.gov.au/home/change+of+name/change+your+name/

How do you justify your cost, when the ceremony goes for just 20-30 minutes?

The cost for a marriage celebrant ranges between $500 and $1200. My cost is mid range, and I can honestly say that of all the money spent on your wedding, this will represent the best value by far. I believe that building a relationship with couples is the key to a fabulous, memorable and personal ceremony – this takes much longer than providing a few generic, impersonal ceremony options for you to choose from. Suffice to say there are many, many hours involved in every ceremony I perform, most of which are behind the scenes. You also have use of my quality PA system for your music, and to ensure your guests can hear every word of your ceremony.