The Legal Matters You Must Be Aware Of Before You Marry

    To be legally married in Australia, a person must

    • not be married to someone else
    • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
    • be at least 18 years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old
    • understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying
    • use specific legal words during the ceremony
    • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame.
    The Celebrant you choose will help you understand these requirements.

    You don't have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. You can find marriage visa information on the 'Department of Immigration and Border Protection' website, if, you hope to live in Australia after your marriage.

    Changes to marriage ceremony requirements
    On 9 December 2017, amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 commence to provide for marriage equality. The right to marry in Australia will no longer be determined by sex or gender. The vows and monitum will change to reflect the new definition of marriage as: ‘the union of (2) people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.
    This change allows marrying couples to make a personal choice about the terms to be used in their marriage vows that best reflect their relationship. The term ‘husband’ can refer to a male marriage partner, and ‘wife’ to a female marriage partner, regardless of the sex or gender of the person saying the marriage vows. The term ‘spouse’ can refer to a male, female, intersex, non-binary gender or transgender person.

    Important paperwork - Notice of Intended Marriage

    • A new Notice of Intended Marriage form has been designed and is now available for marrying couples. Your celebrant will provide these.
    • A completed Notice of Intended Marriage form must be given to your celebrant at least one month before the wedding date. You can give it to your celebrant up to 18 months beforehand.
    • Your celebrant can help you complete the form. The notice may be completed and witnessed outside Australia if required.
    • Talk to your celebrant if there is less than one month before your wedding. A prescribed authority may approve a shorter notice time in some limited circumstances.
    • You will need to give your celebrant evidence of date and place of birth identity, and the end of any previous marriages for each party. Your celebrant may also ask you to complete a 'statutory declaration' to support your evidence.

     Shortening Of Time

    Situations arise from time to time when couples will approach a celebrant seeking to be married much quicker than the usual (1) month and (1) day that's required by law. In many cases there will be a legitimate reason for this, and so it is provided for in the Marriage Act. Under Section 42 (5) of the Act allows for a Shortening of Time for a notice of an intended marriage if the Prescribed Authority is satisfied with the circumstances of that particular case. There are (5) categories of circumstances set out in the regulations for a Shortening of Time, they are:

    • Employment related or other travel commitments:
    • Wedding or Celebrant arrangements, or religious considerations:
    • Medical reasons:
    • Legal proceedings:
    • Error in giving the Notice:

    The reason for seeking a Shortening of Time (to marry) must fall within one of the categories before an application can be considered. There is no capacity to grant a Shortening of Time outside these circumstances. Couples need to understand that a Shortening of Time is not automatic. When making a decision the Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM) or Prescribed Authority will weigh up the information provided in the support of the application.

    Helpful Links:

    Translators and Interpreters:

    Attorney General's Dept. Website:             

    Relationships Australia:

    Births, Deaths & Marriages:

    These very attractive Commemorative Marriage Certificates can be purchased at the Registry of: Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM), after your marriage has been registered. Speak with your Celebrant for further information concerning this.