Wedding Information

Reference: Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department
Getting Married

Finding the right marriage celebrant

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. Choosing the right marriage celebrant will make sure your day is a memorable one.
You should ensure your proposed celebrant is authorised as a marriage celebrant under the Marriage Act 1961 by checking the Register of Marriage Celebrants or the List of Authorised Marriage Celebrants. You will find marriage celebrants from religious organisations as well as celebrants from non-recognised denominations on the list of authorised marriage celebrants. You might also like to contact the relevant marriage celebrant association in your area or have a look in the Yellow Pages.
You should make an appointment to meet a celebrant if you are uncertain. It is also advisable to confirm your wedding arrangements in writing in plenty of time before the day.
Marriage celebrants are encouraged to offer a choice of ceremonies where this is appropriate, or assist the couple in writing their own. You should feel comfortable with your celebrant and feel confident that he/she suits your needs and will complement your special day.

Providing notice of your intended marriage

Within 18 months of your proposed marriage, and no later than one month and one day prior to it, you must give a completed Notice of Intended Marriage form to the authorised marriage celebrant who is to conduct your marriage ceremony. All marriage celebrants should have the necessary paper work to perform your marriage.
You will need your birth certificates (originals) and evidence that any prior marriage has been dissolved by either death or divorce.


If for some reason you need to change your marriage celebrant, it is the responsibility of the first marriage celebrant to ensure the Notice of Intended Marriage form is transferred safely to the second celebrant by hand or registered post. You must ask the celebrant to transfer the notice for you.


Marriage celebrants authorised by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department are entitled to charge for any services that they provide. Fees for weddings are not fixed and may vary from marriage
celebrant to marriage celebrant. Make sure you reach an agreement on the fees before asking the celebrant to hold a date. You should also ensure you understand which charges are non-refundable and obtain a written statement of all fees and charges.

Participating in a marriage ceremony:

People who are not authorised marriage celebrants may participate in aspects of a marriage ceremony. However, there are several legal requirements before, during and after the ceremony that can only be fulfilled by an authorised marriage celebrant.

At the ceremony, the authorised marriage celebrant must:
• consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant
• take a public role in the ceremony
• identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage
• be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage, according to law
• say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before the marriage is solemnised: “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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” – or words to that effect.
• be in close proximity (ie nearby) when the vows required by subsection 45(2) are exchanged. It is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant must see and hear the vows being exchanged
• be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for it elsewhere in the ceremony
• be part of the ceremonial group or in close proximity to it; and
• sign the papers as required by the Act.

The Certificate of Marriage to be issued to couples (Form 15)

A marriage celebrant must issue a prescribed Form 15 marriage certificate to you after your wedding as evidence of your marriage. Your marriage celebrant prepares three certificates of marriage containing the details of your marriage and you and your witnesses will be required to sign all three.
They are:
• the certificate retained by the marriage celebrant for their records;
• the certificate that will be forwarded to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the registration of your marriage; and
• the certificate that will be given to you as a record of your marriage.

How can we be sure we have been given the official certificate?

The official certificate must be exactly as prescribed in the Marriage Regulations 1963.
You will see that it bears the Commonwealth Coat of Arms and a pattern on the front, and a number on the back that is unique to each certificate (and is traceable), but the security features of the new certificate will not be visible. These features make your marriage certificate significantly more secure as an official document because they protect it against alteration and reproduction.
While a certificate of marriage is not a proof of identity document, it is evidence of your change in marital status and in some situations (e.g. when applying for an Australian passport) you may be asked to produce a registered copy of it.

Making a complaint

A mechanism has been developed to deal with complaints against marriage celebrants. If a complaint is found to be justified, sanctions may include a caution, a requirement that further professional development be undertaken, up to six (6) months suspension or deregistration.
Marriage celebrants have a right to be advised of a complaint against them and to put whatever material they think appropriate to the Registrar in their defence.