Marriages in Australia are governed by the Marriage Act 1961 and the Marriage Regulations 1963. The Regulations are updated periodically, and it is the responsibility of marriage celebrants (and all others legally authorised to perform marriage ceremonies) to ensure they keep up to date with the law as it related to marriage in Australia.

Kate Anolak Celebrancy takes the legal responsiblities of marriages seriously. I will make every effort to advise you within the bounds of my role, and will refer you to others (eg legal services) should your particular needs or situation be beyond my role to advise you. Feel free to ask any questions you like!

Basic Legal Overview

  1. Complete the Notice of Intended Marriage
    The first form is the Notice of Intended Marriage (sometimes referred to as the 'NOIM'). This is an extremely important form, and it must be lodged with your celebrant at least one month prior to your wedding date. Most celebrants recommend you complete this form as soon as possible after you decide to get married. Once lodged, it is valid for 18 months.
  2. Provide identification to your celebrant
    Before your celebrant can conduct your ceremony, they will need to see some identity documents, and proof of your date and place of birth. I prefer to see all these documents at the time of signing the NOIM if possible. Again, I will be able to advise you on what documents you need to supply to ensure the form is completed correctly.
  3. Provide other legal documents (in some cases)
    Depending on your personal circumstances, there may be additional documents you need to provide to your celebrant. For example, if either or both of the couple has been previously married, then documents showing they are legally able to marry again must be provided. If any of your identity documents are in a language other than English, a certified translation must be provided. I will advise you should your personal circumstances mean additional documentation may be required.
  4. Complete the Declaration of No Legal Impediment
    The Declaration is a statement made by both parties to the marriage declaring that there is no legal reason they are unable to marry each other. This document is signed as close to the wedding date as possible - I like to complete this at the rehearsal. It is printed on the reverse of the Marriage Certificate we sign as part of your ceremony.
  5. Include specific items in your ceremony
    There are a few inclusions which must be part of your ceremony to comply with the law. Fortunately, these are very simple! Firstly I must introduce myself and state that this is a marriage ceremony. I must read a section from the Marriage Act which explains the definition of marriage in Australia (sometimes termed "The Monitum"). During the ceremony, before or as part of the vows, either myself or the couple must state their full legal names aloud. The couple must say specifically worded vows to each other as a minimum.
    Apart from these inclusions, your ceremony can be crafted to suit you - with all the words and traditions you want included or excluded.  It's your ceremony!
  6. Sign the Marriage Certificate
    As part of your ceremony, we will sign three copies of the marriage certificate - one which is returned to the Office of Births Deaths and marriages to register your marriage, one which is retained for my records, and a Ceremonial Certificate which is presented to you on the day.
  7. Choose two witnesses
    Your witnesses can be anyone you like! They must be 18 years of age or older, consent to be a witness, and understand the language the ceremony is conducted in. Many couples have their maid of honour and best man as witnesses, but you may choose your parents, siblings, adult children, guests who have travelled far, random guests (throw a ball each out into the crowd!), or even complete strangers! So long as they meet the three conditions above, they can be your witnesses. They must attend the ceremony, and they sign the three marriage certificates. In the case that a witness does not speak English, then the couple must have an accredited interpreter attend the ceremony and conduct a live interpretation. (There are a number of other requirements in the case of using interpreters, so should this be the case for you I will assist in guiding you through the process.)
  8. Register the marriage
    It is my responsibility to post the documentation within 14 days to the Office of Births Deaths and Marriages in the state in which the ceremony took place. They will then register the marriage.

Responsibilities of the Couple

There are a number of forms which must be completed by the couple. Your celebrant will be able to explain the different forms and their purpose.

The first form is the Notice of Intended Marriage (sometimes referred to as the 'NOIM'). This is an extremely important form, and it must be lodged with your celebrant at least one month prior to your wedding date. Most celebrants recommend you complete this form as soon as possible after you decide to get married. Once lodged, it is valid for 18 months. 

Before your celebrant can conduct your ceremony, they will need to see some identity documents, and proof of your date and place of birth. If either or both of the couple has been previously married, then documents showing they are legally able to marry again must also be provided. I prefer to see all these documents at the time of signing the NOIM if possible. Again, Kate Anolak Celebrancy will be able to advise you on what documents you need to supply to ensure the form is completed correctly.

Responsibilities of the Celebrant

A marriage celebrant in Australia must abide by a number of regulations, including annual compulsory ongoing professional development, annual registration, and a Code of Practice.

Among other elements, according to the Code of Practice, a registered marriage celebrant must:

  • maintain a high standard of service in his or her professional conduct and practice
  • recognise the social, cultural, and legal significance of marriage and the marriage ceremony in the Australian community, and the importance of strong and respectful family relationships
  • respect the importance of the marriage ceremony to the parties involved
  • guide and inform the couple to help them create a marriage ceremony which meets their needs and expectations
  • respect the privacy and confidentially of the parties
  • ensure all details of the marriage ceremony are clearly communicated to the couple
  • complete all marriage forms correctly
  • ensure the marriage ceremony includes all legal aspects required
  • conduct the ceremony in a professional manner, ensuring all legal aspects are fulfilled
  • make efforts to ensure the marriage ceremony is audible to all those present
  • if multiple ceremonies are booked for the same day, ensure that both couples receive appropraiet service and ensure sufficient time is left between ceremonies
  • provide appropriate service to the couple
  • provide information to the couple about Marriage in Australia
  • provide information about Marriage Education services
  • provide the couple with information about how to notify the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department is they have any concerns or complaints about the celebrant
  • ensure all relevant documents are completed and sent to the relevant registering authority within 14 days after the marriage ceremony
  • maintain an up-to-date knowledge about the law as it applies to marriage in Australia