Keep It Sweetly Simple!

Simple easy service with one of Canberra's most experienced celebrants. (I have married over 1400 couples.) Your beautiful, memorable and personalised alternative to a Registry Office wedding. Only one one-hour meeting required and the next time we meet, it's your wedding day!

05 December 2023

Let's make contact! Open this post for lots of information.

 You're getting married . . .

How wonderful!

Will I be the celebrant who’ll have the privilege and pleasure of officiating at your wedding?

I'd love that!

My congratulations to you both. Please phone me between 9 and 9 on any day, or text anytime. Or use my Contact form that’s on this blog. I specialise in simple weddings and you’ll find lots more information here. I also have a Google Business Page.

I only have in-person meetings with couples who have booked me as their celebrant, but we can have a chat together on Zoom, if you are still making your celebrant choice.

At our one-hour meeting together, you would personalise the ceremony I’ve put together, with every option the Attorney-General will allow. There are other choices you can make as well. I’ll then prepare your ceremony for your wedding and it will probably fit on one A4 page! I’ll print it on parchment paper in the font of your choice – to match the font you choose for your certificate.

Of course, feel free to bring your personal vows for each other to your wedding, and you’ll share those vows with one another, before your vows of marriage.

Many of the weddings I attend as celebrant are small and private, especially weddings in my Heart Garden, so I don’t put any images online. I enjoy taking Just Married photos and you’ll find them on Instagram. I also post on Facebook with new photos and videos. My most recent photos are on my Facebook  In these YouTube videos (which are rather out of date) you can see how I look and hear how I sound, and I believe that my personal style comes across in my blog posts.

I’ve recorded a relaxation audio, so you may like to listen to that on YouTube to hear how I sound.

You may also access month-by-month image boards on my Heart Garden Pinterest page.

I’m a very experienced celebrant. I've officiated at over 1400 weddings in my 30-year celebrant career. Click on '12 Good Reasons' and you'll see more details about me and what I offer you.

I've streamlined all we need to do together into a one-hour meeting (and a bit longer if you're to marry in my Heart Garden, because we'll have a look around). 

If you wish to marry ASAP, you'll still need to wait the statutory one month from the date of lodgment. I can help you lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage with me on the day you contact me – you can lodge by email or MMS anytime up to midnight. You can then marry in one month's time.

I offer you what I call a beautifully simple, simply beautiful service on any day, at any time, in any location, with any number of guests. My fee includes travel in the local area of Canberra and Queanbeyan. I'm happy to travel further for your wedding and there's an extra fee for this,

There's more information here. If you'd like to marry in my lovely romantic Heart Garden, it would be an intimate wedding with a small number of guests. Up to a dozen adult guests + the two of you. All children welcome. A Heart Garden wedding usually takes about an hour and a half. This allows time for a short celebration. If you choose to bring a special sparkling drink, I'll put out the crystal flutes. But the wedding can be shorter and simpler than this.

The Heart Garden has its own site. It’s out-of-date but I keep it online because it’s got some lovely photos of the garden, and newlyweds.

Thank you so much for visiting Michele the Celebrant. I look forward to more contact with you about your happy plan, and my congratulations once again!


03 December 2023

Quick quiz: When does your married life together actually begin?

Your big day has arrived! You’ve chosen to be married by an authorised Civil Marriage Celebrant. All your special people have gathered together for your ceremony and the happy celebrations to follow.

 Your ceremony has begun.

 But - when does your marriage actually start?

What is decreed by the Australian Marriage Act of 1961, that’s still in effect in 2023, as the lawful beginning of your marriage?

 When does your marriage come into legal effect?

When are you committed to the voluntary choice of your partner, as your partner in marriage for life?

When are you legally committed to your partner as your exclusive partner in marriage for life?


When does your married life start?

 Here are five possible answers:

 A When you say ‘I do’?

 When your celebrant pronounces you ‘husband and wife’?

    Or announces something like: ‘Congratulations, you are married!’?

 C When you sign your certificates?

 D When your marriage is registered with the Registrar?

 E  None of the above.

The most popular answer is probably C When you sign your certificates.

 This isn’t correct however.

 Your three certificates of marriage will state that a legal marriage has already been solemnised aka legalised). The certificate you’ll take home with you on the day – and if I’m your celebrant, your certificate will be printed in the font of your choice – will have these words:

I (legal name of celebrant) having authority under the Marriage Act 1961 to solemnise marriages, hereby certify that I have this day at (your locationduly solemnised marriage in accordance with the provisions of that Act between (names of parties to the marriage) in the presence of the undersigned witnesses.

 So, the answer When you sign the certificates isn’t correct. 

Another popular answer is A When you say ‘I do’.

This answer is correct but it’s not always possible. It can be correct in a particular circumstance.

 I’ll explain:

In Australia, you can only use classic ‘I do’ vows of marriage in church, or other religious setting.

Your religious celebrant can ask you: ‘Do you take (name of your partner) to be your husband/wife/partner for life?’ And you can say ‘I do’. When you’ve both made a vow of marriage, then you are legally married. If you get married by a civil marriage celebrant however, this is not possible.

 The Australian government does not allow ‘I do’ marriage vows in civil ceremonies. 

Personally, as a celebrant from way back when ‘I do’ vows were possible, I’m sad about this. Many couples would still love to have these classic vows.

In a civil marriage ceremony nowadays, you must state your own name in your marriage vow and your celebrant can’t do this for you (with both of you just saying: I do).

Your civil celebrant can say your name in a vow which they’ll prompt you to repeat, but you must state your name in your vow yourself to make your marriage legal.

In the Marriage Act, this is written as I AB take you CD, etc

You can take each other as lawfully wedded wife/husband/spouse.

Or lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse.

Or lawful wife or lawful husband/spouse.

Or wedded wife or wedded husband, but not just simply, husband and wife (I’m not sure if this legal requirement applies in church or not.)

Or you can say partner in marriage and this is a popular option with many couples.

You may choose to have ‘I do’ vows somewhere else in your ceremony where you make other pledges to each other but these vows cannot legally be your vows of marriage.

When does your married life together actually start?

Let’s look at another popular belief:

When your celebrant pronounces you ‘husband and wife’?

Or says something like: ‘Congratulations, you are married’?

is not the right answer because you’re already legally married by this time. This pronouncement is an exciting moment however, because it confirms that you are married. And it’s your big opportunity to kiss!

At the end of your ceremony, you may choose to have your celebrant pronounce that you are ‘now husband and wife’ – or not.

Your celebrant may actually say ‘with the power vested in me’ to make it sound like the pronouncement of husband and wife or wife and husband, or husband and husband, or wife and wife – or other variation which you choose together as a couple – is the big moment that your marriage begins. But these words you see in movies, would just be theatre. Likewise, if you have both signed your Declarations before your ceremony, as the law requires you must, then no-one else can object, like in 'Speak now or forever hold your peace!' Any call for objections would just be for show.

There’s no legal requirement to have a pronouncement of your new status before your first kiss as married partners. The choice is yours. And you may or may not wish to publicly kiss.

So - when your celebrant pronounces you ‘husband and wife’, your marriage is already in legal effect. You’ll then sign three certificates which certify this fact. Your celebrant signs these three certificates and so do both of you, and your two adult witnesses.

Note here that your witnesses can be any adults with a good command of English.

If your witnesses are related to you, that’s not a problem.

Also note here that I specialise in simple weddings, and simple weddings are sometimes elopements. If a couple wishes to keep their marriage to themselves, then I find two witnesses for them, usually from my family or neighbours. You’ll notice from this that your witnesses don’t need to be people you know.

After your wedding, your celebrant has 14 days to send your papers to the Registrar in the state or territory in which you were married. If something terrible happened to your paperwork, this would not effect the legality of your marriage, OK?

If not A, B or C, then what about D?

Does your marriage legally begin When you marriage is registered with the Registrar?

It’s another popular belief that your marriage is legalised by the Registrar but again, it’s not accurate. Your marriage is already in legal effect when your celebrant sends your documentation to the Registrar in the territory of state in which you were married.

The Registrar will allocate a registration number and put your marriage on the public record. It’s wise to then, to buy a full certificate from the Registrar for your records as it will have a registration number on it.

The simple attractive Certificate of Marriage which you receive after your ceremony is your personal one. You can’t use it for any legal purpose, such as applying for a driver’s licence in your married name.

Your documentation, sent to the Registrar, will be:

A copy of your full marriage certificate, signed by both of you, your one witness each, and your celebrant.

The Notice of Intended Marriage which you lodged with your celebrant a minimum of one month before your wedding.

So, when When do you think your marriage actually and legally comes into effect? 

The only answer that we’re left with is E None of the above.

If you’ve chosen to have a civil marriage celebrant rather than a religious one, to perform your marriage ceremony, then E is the only answer that applies.


Here’s the final answer

Your marriage actually and legally comes into effect when you’ve made vows of marriage to one another.

Your vows of marriage, to be legal and binding, whether in a church, a garden or anywhere else, must come after what’s called the monitum.

This is when your celebrant declares to both of you and all your guests, the present nature of marriage in Australia. That is - it’s voluntary, exclusive and permanent between two people.

The two people must be of marriageable age, not closely related or married to anyone else. Each party to the marriage must sign a Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage before the marriage ceremony can take place.

Before you make your vows of marriage during your wedding ceremony, your celebrant must also state their own legal name and their role, in front of at least two adult witnesses. As well, they must declare that they’re authorised (or legalised) to perform your marriage ceremony. You can have an option here for your celebrant to say ‘authorise’ or ‘legalise’. (I always give this option.)

Plus I give other legal options that the Attorney-General allows. Many celebrants don’t do this. You can for instance, instead of saying all persons here present in the set marriage vow, say all people here present or everybody here or everyone here.

There are several other approved variations in the legal marriage ceremony.

Sharing the joy, with newlyweds Zoe and James
The Heart Garden   27 November 2023
(Can you see the heart-shaped garden bed?)

In conclusion then

If you’re in church, the magical moments which begin your marriage to each other may be when you each say ‘I do’. If you’re not in church, you legally marry with your vows of marriage to each other, as prescribed by the Australian Marriage Act of 1961.

Marriage in Australia is an oral contract. Your vows of marriage to one another must be witnessed (as in seen and heard) by your celebrant and two adult witnesses. (You may call on all people here present but in fact, only two of your guests need to see you make your vows, and hear them.)

A pronouncement by your celebrant at the end of your ceremony of husband and wife, or any other variation on this theme (such as declaring your new legal names) will confirm that a legal marriage is already in effect.

Your three certificates of marriage with their five signatures will also provide evidence that a legal marriage has happened.

So will the official marriage certificate which you buy from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

(In ACT, you’ll do this online through Canberra Connect.)

And, if you’re thinking of changing your name with marriage, this other significant change in your life also comes into legal effect when you’re looking into each other’s eyes and making your vows of marriage.

You don’t need authorisation from the Registrar after your marriage to change your legal name. You may however, need evidence of legal marriage from the Registrar for your work records, driver’s licence or passport application, and so on.

Well, I think I’ve covered everything to inform you about when, if you choose to marry in Australia, your marriage legally begins.

And any person 18 or over from anywhere in the world can marry in Australia if they’re not already married.

I’ve actually had three couples fly to Australia from Hong Kong, China (with permission from the Chinese government) and Sardinia (part of Italy) to marry in my Heart Garden, before heading back home. How amazing it that?! The couple from Hong Kong only flew in for the weekend! I felt very honoured to have them marry in my beautiful Heart Garden.


Choosing your celebrant

If you’d like me to be your celebrant, I’d be delighted to be there for you at this most significant event in the life you share together.

By law, you’d need to give me at least one month’s notice by lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage. Like all authorised celebrants I’m a lodging authority. We have no contact with the Registrar in this process – it’s all very simple.

If you wish to marry in the shortest time possible (which is one month) you can do the lodging in person, by email with scan attached, or by MMS. When you contact me, I’ll explain how to make your wedding happen ASAP.

If, as in most instances, there’s no hurry, we’ll have a one-hour meeting together (in Weston) on a Monday or Wednesday evening and you’ll lodge your Notice with me then. Your Notice will have a ‘shelf life’ of eighteen months from the time you fill it in. It’s helpful to know this, if your marriage gets delayed.



One party to the marriage can lodge the Notice if both are not available.


You don’t need divorce finalised when you lodge your Notice but divorce must be finalised (and your celebrant must see evidence of this) before your marriage can take place.

Please fill in the form on my Contact Page, or contact me by phone or text on 0406 376 375. 

Phone any day, 9am to 9pm. Text anytime.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask. We can arrange a quick Zoom meeting if you wish, with or without video. (There’s be no obligation implied at this time to choose me as your celebrant.)

Please note:

I only have meetings with couples who have booked me as their marriage celebrant.

My Simple Service is a lovely alternative to a registry office wedding. I call it ‘simply beautiful and beautifully simple’. My Simple Service is for any day at any time, any place, with any number of guests.

If you wish to marry in my Heart Garden, then the maximum number of adult guests is twelve. (Couple not included.) All children are always welcome. Bring a bottle of special bubbly if you wish and I’ll put out the crystal flutes to we can toast you both as newlyweds. And bring your special music too. Here’s a link for my Simple Service.

If you’re planning to get married, my congratulations to you both!

I hope we’ll stay in touch.


Michele the Celebrant