Getting married is one of the most life changing events you will ever make and no doubt there will be many questions that will pop up from the time as you start planning your wedding through to your big day.
I have tried to answer the most frequently asked questions that my couples have asked as well as some feedback from other couples.
When should we book our wedding celebrant?
Book your celebrant as soon as you have your date set as good wedding celebrants are usually booked way in advance.
What questions will the celebrant ask us on the phone?
The marriage celebrant will want to know names of bride and groom, date of wedding, wedding venue, number of guests and are the parties of marriageable age.
What is the next step?
The wedding celebrant will organise a first initial meeting which is usually obligation free at her home/office or at a convenient place of your choice where you can get a “feel about your celebrant’.
This is the where you as the couple can then discuss with your wedding celebrant what your wedding requirements are and your celebrant will quote you a price.
What would we expect to pay for a celebrant?
Wedding Celebrants charge what they believe their service is worth, there is no set fee. Weddings vary between $400 – $800 depending on what type of ceremony, how many guests, poems readings, ceremony rituals etc.
Other ceremonies are less, maybe $200 – $450. The quote does not relate to quality so you would be advised to meet your Celebrant before committing yourself. It is worth mentioning that the wedding is all about what the couple are saying to one another on their wedding day, that is, the ceremony. Given that this is the most important part of the day the cost of the Celebrant usually does not compare to the cost of the food, flowers, musicians, dresses, car hire, etc.
What documents do we need to bring on our first visit?
Under the Marriage Act 1961 there are certain legal obligations that you, as a couple must meet prior to a marriage ceremony being solemnised.
You celebrant will ask for:
- Original Birth Certificate from country of Birth.
- Overseas or Australian Passport if Birth Certificate is unavailable.
- Photos ID e.g. Drivers Licence.
- Divorce Certificate if previously married.
- Death Certificate if previous spouse passed away.
What if I can’t find my Birth Certificate?
If you contact the (BDM) Register of Births Deaths and Marriages in the state in which you were born, they will be able to issue you with another copy of your Birth Certificate for a small fee.
What if I can’t find my divorce documents?
You can contact the Family Law Court in the state your marriage was dissolved and they will issue you with a new Divorce Certificate for a small fee.
Can we get married straight away?
No, you will need to seek approval from your local court. It is called ‘Shortening of Time.’ The reason must fall within one of these categories for it to be granted.
- Employment related or other travel commitments.
- Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations.
- Medical reasons
- Legal proceedings.
- Error in giving notice.
Other than the above circumstances, you will need to wait 1 month before you can get married.
What forms are signed before the wedding?
The Notice of Intention to Marry is signed in front of your celebrant at any time between 18months before your wedding and 1 month.
The Declaration Form is signed before the ceremony, and as close to the ceremony as possible. This is where the couple makes a declaration stating that they are willingly entering marriage and that there are no legal impediments to them getting married.
On our Wedding Day do I sign my maiden name or my married name?
You sign all documentation with your maiden name.
What forms are signed after the wedding?
3 Forms are signed on your wedding day. The Bride, The Groom, and 2 Witnesses (both must be over 18 years) and the Celebrant sign the Presentation Certificate (Pretty Certificate)
The Celebrants Marriage Register Book and the second Marriage Certificate on the back of the Declaration Form.
What happens to the NOIM form once it’s signed?
The NOIM Form stays with the celebrant and is sent within 14 days after the wedding to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages in the State where the wedding took place along with the Marriage Certificate which has the declaration, on the back.
How do we apply for the Certified Marriage Certificate?
You will need to fill in the Marriage Certificate/ Extract Application form which can be downloaded from BDM (Births, Deaths, and Marriages) or your celebrant can give you a copy. Either one of you completes the form with appropriate ID and then sends it off to BDM. A standard Certified, marriage Certificate is $42.
Do we have to attend pre-marital courses?
No however, I have contact details of Relationship Education Centres that run them quite frequently.
Can we get married anywhere in Australia?
Yes, the wonderful thing is Marriage Celebrants can perform wedding ceremonies anywhere in Australia. This includes island getaways, boats, cruise ships (in Port only) gardens, rainforests, white sunny beaches, function rooms and the list is endless.
Please be aware that if the Celebrant has to travel interstate etc., the intended bride and groom must pay for the travel costs and in some instances the accommodation.
We don’t want a big wedding we just want to elope, so what do we need to do?
Quite easy! All you need to do is complete the legalities with your marriage celebrant and get two people to be your witnesses for your wedding ceremony.
What is a pop up wedding?
Designed for couples who want an intimate ceremony in a beautiful setting without the complications and decisions and major expenses that comes with conventional weddings packages. Couples pay a small fee, choose their pre-styled ceremony space, their bouquet and invite up to 20 of their closest family and friends. They say their “I do’s”, take a few photos and celebrate with cake and champagne. If there is anything that got back to the core of what a wedding is about then I think this might be it.
How long does a ceremony last?
Depending on the content of the ceremony i.e. number of readings symbolic rituals etc., which is chosen by you, most ceremonies will go between 15 and 20 minutes.
What is the ceremony format?
- Processional – Entrance of the wedding party (Optional)
- First Poem/Reading/Ritual/Prayer/Music/Dance (Optional)
- Giving away of the bride (Optional) (e.g.: “Who gives Tori to be married to this man?”)
- Monitum – Legal wording spoken by the Celebrant from the Marriage Act of 1961
- The Asking (Optional) (e.g.: “Do you take Tori to be your husband?”)
- The Vows (Your promises to each other)
- Second Poem/Reading/Ritual/Prayer/Music/Dance (Optional)
- Ring Ceremony (Optional) (exchange of wedding rings)
- Conclusion and Declaration (“… I now pronounce you husband and wife.”)
- Signing the Marriage Register
- Presentation of the Marriage Certificate (Optional)
- Recessional – Exit of the bridal party (Optional)
- You can also add an element of ritual to personalise your ceremony
My fiancé and I are of a different culture so can we include aspects of both our cultures into our ceremony?
Yes, your Celebrant can create a ceremony that will meet both of your cultural needs.
We have no idea what we want for our ceremony?
An experienced and creative celebrant will sit down with you, get to know your story so to speak, and then design your personalised ceremony which will reflect your unique style character and desire.
Can we write our own vows?
Yes, some couples like to do this while others prefer to choose theirs from either their celebrant’s resource selection or they can go online and choose from literally hundreds of great websites to get their creative juices flowing, so to speak.
Legally you will both need to say this “I call upon the people here present to witness that I (bride’s name/groom’s name), take you, (groom’s name/bride’s name) to be my wedded (husband/wife)” before you commence your own vows.
Do we have to memorise our vows?
No, not unless you want to, or you may choose to repeat after your celebrant or read them from a card.
Can our children be part of our ceremony?
Yes, there are some really lovely ways in which children can be involved in your ceremony for e.g. Sand Ceremony, Butterfly Release, Unity Candle or a Family Medallion Presentation.
Do I have to be given away?
No, this is entirely up to you as it is not a legal requirement.
Who usually gives the bride away?
Again this is your preference…it can be anyone you like family or friend.
We want to arrive at our ceremony together, is this possible?
Absolutely – these days anything goes, it’s your day and your way.
What happens if our celebrant gets sick on the day of our wedding?
In the event that should happen ‘god forbid’ most marriage celebrants have an emergency backup plan whereby they are able to call on a group of celebrants who would perform the ceremony.
Some handy advice
Just a little something to remember, before you get to walk down the aisle or get to the reception, something is very likely to go wrong at some point, so just take a deep breath, relax smile and don’t forget to have fun!