Getting Hitched in the Land Down Under

The beauty of Australia is unparalleled, and an Aussie-inspired romance can cure the woes of wedding-planning stress. If you are visiting Australia from overseas, there are ten things you must know when Getting Hitched in the Land Down Under.

The Basics: 

  1. Each party must be 18 years of age or older, or must have a valid order from a judge or magistrate making said marriage permissible under section 12 of the Marriage Act.
  2. Your marriage celebrant (officiant) must be authorized under Australian law to perform the ceremony. Please review the following link for a list of authorized marriage celebrants
  3. Marriage is defined as per subsection 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961:

“…The union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Same-sex unions are not recognized under Australian law (even if performed and recognized elsewhere), commitment ceremonies are permitted.

  1. Providing notice of intent to marry is a requirement. This means that a “quickie” marriage is not possible in Australia. You must file the Notice of Intended Marriage form no less than 30 days prior to the wedding and no more than 18 months in advance. For reasons or circumstances where this requirement can be waived or modified, please see the following link:  Getting Married.

If signing your Notice of Intended Marriage form outside of Australia, it must be done in the presence of/witnessed by a Notary Public, an Australian Diplomatic Officer, or an Australian Consular Officer.

  1. The marriage celebrant must properly identify the parties with an original Australian birth certificate, or an overseas passport for foreign-born participants.
  2. If this is not your first marriage, satisfactory evidence of a divorce/dissolution of marriage is required.
  3. Your marriage celebrant must introduce themselves at the beginning of the ceremony and  is required by law to state the following:

“I am duly authorized by law to solemnize marriages according to law; and… before the exchange of vows….

“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, voluntarilyentered into for life.”

Words to a similar effect can also be used.

  1. Although vows may be personalized and embelished, each of the parties must include the following verbaige by law:

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, _________________, take thee __________________, to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”

or words to that effect.

For tips on writing your own vows or engagement announcment, please see our articles entitled: Vow to Say Something Special, and Announcing Your Engagement.

  1. Two witnesses of at least 18 years of age or older must be present during your wedding ceremony.
  2. After your ceremony, your celebrant is required to issue you a Certificate of Marriage (Form 15) as evidence of your marriage (see the attached sample).

If you are visiting from overseas and wish to get married in Australia, or for non-traditional unions, or other unique and unanswered questions, please consult the official Australian Government Website. Additionally, to ensure that your marriage will be recognized in your country of origin, visit the Australian government’s SmarTraveller website.

Your marriage celebrant should also be consulted for additional advice and requirements for your Australian wedding.

Happy Wedding Planning!

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