Simple easy service by one of Canberra's most experienced celebrants. Your best alternative to a Registry Office wedding - all for $600.

14 November 2018

Your three Certificates of Marriage

Hello, and welcome
For Qian and Min, it was their lucky day 8-8-18
They married in the sunny cosy green room,
overlooking the wintry Heart Garden.
You're getting married... Wonderful! Perhaps you're wondering about what happens when you sign your certificates.

On your wedding day, you’ll sign three Certificates of Marriage. So will your celebrant and also your two witnesses. You’ll sign the certificates with your usual signature.

Nazia signs a certificate of marriage as her new husband Nillarn looks on The Heart Garden  Weston ACT Saturday 22 September 2018
Sasha signs three certificates of 
marriage as her new husband Rohan looks on.
The Green Room - The Heart Garden  Weston ACT
Saturday 22 September 2018
This can be a bit disappointing if you’ve changed your name already and you want to try out your new signature. You can however, be announced to your guests by your new married name at the end of your ceremony, if you wish.

Legal change of name takes place with the making of your vows of marriage during your wedding ceremony. This means that, by the end of the ceremony, if you – as bride, or groom, or both - have chosen name change, then it’s already legally in effect.

There’s nothing more you need to do about this, but, if you want to change things like your passport or your driver’s licence, then you must produce evidence that your legal marriage has taken place.

After your wedding, your celebrant has two weeks to send your papers to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the territory or state in which you were married.

To get evidence that your legal marriage has taken place, you must apply for your Official (or ‘full’) Certificate from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Applying online is easiest but if you married in the ACT, you can apply at any Access Canberra shopfront.

You must include credit card payment in your application to the Registrar.

When you apply, you must fill in the full names that appear on your Notice of Intended Marriage. They’ll also be on the marriage certificate you received on the day of your marriage. This means – don’t use married names on your application to the Registrar.

If you apply straight after getting married, you’ll need to allow time for your marriage papers to be processed by the Registrar and officially registered. (Remember here that your marriage is already legal – it’s just not registered yet.)

Next, allow three to four business days for the Registrar’s Office to process your application, then allow a couple of days as your certificate travels to you in the mail by registered post.

Because your certificate will be sent by registered post, there must be someone home to sign for it. If there’s no-one home, you’ll get a card and you’ll need to sign and collect from the post office.

The current fee for an official certificate in the ACT, with registration number on it, is $63. This includes registered postage.

Personally, I like to focus on the certificate you take home on the day. It needs to be a beautiful momento for you, so I ask you at our meeting to choose the font you’d like me to use when I print it.

If you have Asian names, I’ll ask you whether you want your surname to appear before your other names. The choice is yours.

The certificate I hand to you on the day will have a unique number and this number will be recorded, but because it doesn’t have a registration number, you can’t use this certificate as evidence of your marriage for any legal purpose (like a licence application or work records).

As evidence of your legal marriage, you must buy an ‘official’ certificate from the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages.

Angela and Jon, just married, receive their 
certificate from Michele.
Friday 28 September 18
at Lennox Gardens ACT
You may be wondering what happens to the other certificate that’s signed on the day. It’s in your celebrant’s register.

Some celebrants keep an electronic register but I still like to use a large red book. By law, I have to keep my registers for six years, but I just like to keep them. (Sometimes I press flowers in them from weddings.) Because I’ve been celebrant at nearly fourteen hundred weddings, I have quite a large library of registers!

I was asked at a wedding recently, why the witnesses signed before the bride and groom. This is my preference. I like the witnesses to sign first, then I sign, and then the newly married couple.

This plan works well for setting up the photos with just the couple, signing at the end. Then, as the law requires, I hand the newlyweds their certificate. (This is a nice chance for me to get a photo for my personal collection.)

The guest who asked about the order of signing challenged me about ‘How can they witness the signatures of the bride and groom, if they sign before them?’ This is a common misunderstanding.

The answer is, that the witnesses certify that they witnessed a legal marriage take place, not that they witnessed the signing of the certificates by the groom and bride.

If you would like me to be celebrant at your wedding, I’d be delighted to be there for you both.

I specialise in small simple weddings, with any number of guests, on any day or night, at any time. I call them beautifully simple and simply beautiful. We have no registry office weddings in Canberra ACT, so I offer a perfect alternative.

Micah and Marlon married at
Royal Canberra Golf Club
on 2 September 2018
If your wedding is going to be small with around 10 adult guests or less (and any number of children) you'll be most welcome to marry in my peaceful romantic Heart Garden. 

My fee for any wedding is $600. There's no extra fee for a wedding in my garden. You may like to see garden photos on my Pinterest page. And there are lots more on Instagram and facebook.

There’s an email contact form here. Or please phone me on 0406 376 375 any day between 9am and 9pm, or text anytime, and let's talk about your wedding. 

My congratulations to you both on your very happy plan.


Nazia and Nillarn married at the home of Nazia's parents in Macgregor
on Saturday 22 September 2018

The rustic entrance to the Heart Garden in mid-Spring 2018
The rustic entrance to the Heart Garden in mid-Spring 2018

The Heart Garden in mid-Spring 2018. When the poppies, violas, rhododendrons and wisteria finish, the roses will come on. Masses of flowers on the large potted blueberry (mid-screen) mean a bumper crop this summer.

09 October 2018

29 June 2018

A Canberra Registry Office wedding? What about witnesses? Will you elope? ... And a happy story, ten years on

Hello, and welcome

They married by the lake in a simple secret ceremony with just two special friends as witnesses, on a stormy afternoon in late autumn. Just as I said 'It's time for your first kiss as ... husband and wife!' there was a bright burst of sunlight across the lake. How magical is that?!

All rugged up for the wedding
at Molonglo Reach
Lake Burley Griffin ACT
So much fun!
Registry Office weddings in the ACT 

Registry Office weddings in the ACT?

There are none.

In most other cities in Australia, couples who want a short simple wedding go to the local registry office but ACT registry-office weddings finished about twenty years ago. You’ll need to find a private civil celebrant in the ACT for your registry-office wedding alternative. I would love to be at your service.

Short simple weddings are my specialty. I call them Simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

I offer you a beautiful venue – my large private peaceful romantic Heart Garden, or if you wish to marry during the cooler months, my green room with its windows on three sides overlooking the garden. It's warm, cosy and intimate. From about 2 in the afternoon, sunlight streams in and I also light candles. And of course, there'll be flowers from my garden. (Or in winter I'll buy some.)
Here's my green room, set up for a private wedding in mid-May 2018
on a chilly autumn day. There are candles, flowers, crystal glasses
and a pair of special Chinese wedding decorations
which a couple gave to me many years ago.
The bride and groom (whose families are from China) 

will stand in the bay window.
We had the ceremony and signing inside,
then got some beautiful photos in the garden.

For all Heart Garden weddings, I invite you to bring a special drink to celebrate after your ceremony. I'll provide the crystal glasses. You can also bring your favourite music to play through my amplifier.

The maximum number of adult guests for a Heart Garden wedding is around ten. All children are welcome. Weddings can be held on any day, between 10 and about 4.30. (Depends on the time of year.) 

I wish I could show you photos from the three same-sex marriages I've hosted in my garden this year as they were wonderfully happy occasions. By request of the newlyweds, there are no photos from these weddings publically online.

Choosing your witnesses

You’ll need two witnesses to your marriage. Even though by law, you have to call on all persons here present (or everyone here) to witness your vows of marriage to one another, it's also law that only two people actually need to be watching and listening.

Usually the witnesses are one person who’s special to the bride plus one person special to the groom – or own person special to each marrying partner. Your witnesses can be family. They can be friends or someone in your community whom you especially respect and wish to honour.

Choosing your witness is often a sensitive choice. Many witnesses, if not most, consider it a privilege to be chosen as a witness to a marriage. For this reason, the choice you make can have consequences that it’s good to be aware of.

Choose with care. Just as the person you ask to witness for you can feel really good about being chosen, a person whom you don’t choose can feel really bad.

Witnesses to your marriage need to be 18 or over. They must be present in person to watch you make your vows. Because marriage in Australian law is essentially a verbal contract, your witnesses must be close enough to hear your vows as well. They must have a good command of English to be able to understand all that’s being said.

After your ceremony, your witnesses (along with both of you and your celebrant) will sign three certificates of marriage. This way they testify that they were witnessing as your marriage was solemnised. (Or you may choose to have legalised in your wedding wording instead of the traditional solemnised.)

Are you thinking of eloping?

Are you thinking of eloping? If so, I can help. As for any legal marriage ceremony, you’ll need two adult witnesses.

Witnesses to a marriage don’t need to know the couple personally.

Many years ago, I was at Green Patch in Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay NSW for an elopement. I had the unusual experience of asking a father coming off the beach with his two young daughters, if he would kindly be one of the witnesses. He was very happy to do this and his two little girls were delighted to be part of ‘a real wedding’ with a handsome groom and a beautiful bride, dressed in lace. My husband David was with me so that we could spend the weekend together in Jervis Bay. He was the other witness.
Nice story, don’t you think?

Well, there’s more to it, and it’s just as happy.

Annie, who was the bride, contacted me a while ago, to tell me that she and Kyle had just celebrated their ten-year anniversary. They dropped in from Tumburramba to say hello with their daughter. It was a wonderful surprise!

Annie wrote me a great review on facebook, for which I am most grateful. (But it's disappeared.)

Over the years there have been many happy elopements in my Heart Garden. Witnesses have been my daughters, my daughter-in-law, my friends, my neighbours and my husband.

It’s been really special for us to share the joy with these couples, who for their own reasons, chose to marry quietly and keep it to themselves. I wish I could show you some of the gorgeous photos I’ve taken for them and also kept in my own collection. But of course, I can’t show you because I totally respect their privacy and confidentiality.

I’d be delighted to be celebrant at your wedding, large or small, with lots of guests or only two. In any location of your choice, including my beautiful garden or in my warm and cosy green room, overlooking the garden. There is no extra fee for this. My fee, which covers everything is $600. (More info here.)

Cherie and Barjinder
shared their special day with their families
in the Rose Gardens
of Parliament House ACT
on 2 May 2018
I’d love to be there for you both at any time you like, on any day.

There’s a contact form here. Or you may like to phone or text me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm, or send a PM on facebook. We’ll only need one one-hour meeting together to do all we need to do before your big day – it’s that simple.

Are you wanting to marry ASAP?

The Marriage Act requires that you wait one month after lodging your Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant. (Although you might qualify for a shortening of this time, which can only be granted by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages if your celebrant applies on your behalf.)

If you wish to marry as soon as possible, I can help you marry exactly one month from the day you contact me. As long as you can contact me by phone or text before about 11pm, you can lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage with me that same day. We'll need to have a meeting together as well, but there's no rush for that. I’d love to share in your excitement!


The Heart Garden - hosted fourteen Spring weddings in 2017.
Spring seems so far away as we're heading for mid-winter. If you'd like to marry in the Heart Garden next Spring, let's meet soon.