Marriage in Australia is regulated by the Marriage Act 1961 and Marriage Regulations 2017.
I am a Commonwealth-Registered Marriage Celebrant authorised under this legislation to conduct marriages in Australia.
The Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage in Australia as ‘the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’
To be legally married in Australia, you must:
- not be married
- be at least eighteen years old (unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old)
- understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying
- use specific words during the ceremony
- give written notice of your intention to marry in a specified time period (see below)
- not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or sibling.
On 9 December 2017, legislation changed such that the right to marry in Australia was no longer determined by sex or gender. You are free to marry, irrespective of the gender identity, gender expression, sex or sexuality of you or your partner.
You don’t have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to be married in Australia. However, if you are both foreign nationals intending to return to your home country, you should check with authorities there that they will recognise your Australian marriage, before you proceed.
If you (or your partner) are a foreign national hoping to remain in Australia after your marriage, you will need to obtain advice about immigration from the Australian Department of Home Affairs or a Registered Migration Agent. By law, celebrants are not able to provide advice on migration matters.
The booklet Happily Ever … Before and After is created by the Attorney-General’s Department to let couples know what marriage means in Australia and the consequences of marriage. You can access this booklet in a number of languages from the Attorney-General’s Department website.
Giving Written Notice of your Intention to Marry
This is done by filling out a specific form called a Notice of Intended Marriage.
This must be signed, witnessed by a specified officer and given to me at least one month before your wedding. I can guide you with this lodgement process even if you are overseas until just before your wedding. (There can be a shortening of the lodgement time, but only in specified circumstances).
Just before your ceremony you will be required to sign a form in front of me, as your celebrant, stating there are no legal impediments to your marriage.
Before your marriage, I will need to see:
- evidence of your date and place of birth (birth certificate or passport)
- identity (driver’s licence or passport)
- where relevant, proof that any previous marriage has ended.
On the Day
At a minimum, there will be five people present: you, your partner, two witnesses (who are over 18 years) and myself as your authorised celebrant. I will ensure that all legally required words are included in your ceremony and that all necessary marriage documentation is completed and lodged with Birth Deaths and Marriages in the state in which your marriage takes place, as required.