You can choose to have either a civil or religious Australia wedding ceremony.
Australia has very relaxed rules on where a marriage may take place and permits marriages to be held in private at any location. This differs, for example from many countries in Europe, such as England where a civil ceremony must be conducted in a place specially sanctioned by law, such as a church or Registry Office. Below are the facts you need to know about having an Australia wedding ceremony.
In Australia civil ceremonies are performed by Marriage Celebrants. The Attorney-General’s Department in Australia established a Marriage Celebrants Program in 1973 to enable the appointment of suitably qualified people to perform marriages. The aim of this program was to give couples a meaningful alternative to Registry Office and Church weddings.
With a civil ceremony you have the option to choose:
- Your Marriage Celebrant
- The date of your wedding
- The time of your wedding
- The words of your wedding ceremony – including any poems and readings
- The music for your wedding ceremony
- The location of your wedding ceremony – this is limited only by your imagination
- Who participates in your wedding ceremony – friends and family
If you choose to have a civil ceremony you will usually work very closely with your chosen Marriage Celebrant to create exactly the type of ceremony you would like – your ceremony will be unique to you as a couple.
The only words that must be included into your ceremony are the following:
The celebrant must say:
I am duly authorised by law to solemnise this, your marriage, according to the law in Australia. Before (bride-to-be) and (groom-to-be) are joined together in marriage in my presence and in the presence of those your family and friends, I am bound as you know to remind you publicly of the solemn, the serious and binding nature of the relationship to which you are about to enter. Marriage as most of us understand it is voluntary and is a full commitment of a man to a woman and a woman to a man. It is made in the deepest sense to the exclusion of all others and is entered into with the desire, hope and firm intention that it will last for life.
The bride and groom must say words to the effect of:
I call upon the persons here present to witness that I (bride-to-be/groom-to-be) take thee (bride-to-be/groom-to-be) to be my lawful wedded husband/wife.
Religious ceremonies are legally binding in Australia.
If you choose to have a religious Australia wedding ceremony, I would advise you to contact your local religious official and the religious official who will perform your Australia wedding ceremony in Australia at least six months prior to your wedding to ensure you can fulfill all the necessary requirements.
In Australia, some religious officials are willing to conduct your wedding ceremony in a location of your choice, such as parks and gardens, reception centres or other chosen venues.
My husband and I “secretly” got married in the United Kingdom prior to our wedding abroad and had a Humanist wedding ceremony on our wedding day. Our civil ceremony in the United Kingdom was purely to take care of the legalities and our wedding day is when we considered ourselves married. Our guests were not aware that our civil ceremony had taken place and our very personalised wedding ceremony is when we and our guests felt that we became husband and wife.
For information on the legal requirements for getting married in Australia click here.