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09 November 2009

Applying to marry in Australia from overseas

Hello, and welcome
     I recently got a call from a friend of a couple living overseas. Could she lodge their Notice of Intended Marriage so it got to a celebrant the required one month and one day before the wedding? Well, yes and no. No, in that she could not fill out the details on their behalf and lodge the form with a celebrant. Yes, in that she could lodge a form they had completed and make sure it got to the celebrant on time.
     Any couple overseas – or in Australia – can download a Notice of Intended Marriage from the Attorney-General’s website. There are four pages, two to fill out, plus two pages of explanatory notes. Once the couple overseas has filled out the form, they can sign their Notice in the presence of an Australian Diplomatic Officer, an Australian Consular Officer, an authorised employee of the Commonwealth or the Australian Trade Commission. Or a notary public. 
     The Marriage Act explains, on the Notice, which Commonwealth employees are authorised. The ‘notary public’ is less straightforward . The qualification of a notary public depends on the country the couple is living in at the time. On the few occasions I have worked with couples who have needed to find a notary public because they lived too far from an embassy or consulate, they’ve only needed to make a few enquiries to find the appropriate person.
     It can often help to know in these circumstances that the Notice of Intended Marriage can be lodged by only one party to the proposed marriage (but of course, both will have to fill in their details and sign in the presence of an authorised witness before the marriage can take place). It’s not unusual for either the bride or groom to be in Australia already so it’s easy for them to lodge the Notice with the celebrant of their choice, and make sure it’s lodged at least one month and one day before the wedding.
     So – here’s how the friend in Australia can help: The overseas couple (or just the bride or just the groom) can fill in the Notice, sign in the presence of a witness, then post or fax the two pages of the Notice to their friend in Australia. She can then lodge it with the celebrant she recommends for them. It’s also likely that she will be asked to pay a lodgement fee on the couple’s behalf (and this is usually a non-refundable payment). Or the couple can pay by bank transfer or PayPal or the like.
     If I'm the celebrant in this situation, I then send a package of guiding notes and ceremony wording ideas by post or email to the couple who are planning to marry. We always have at least one meeting together when they arrive in Australia. It’s good to note here too that your celebrant is your lodging authority. Once the Notice of Intended Marriage is safely with your celebrant, that’s it. The celebrant sends nothing to the Registrar until after your wedding. If the Notice has been sent by fax so as to get it to the celebrant in time, she or he must receive the original Notice from the marrying couple before the wedding can take place.
Lovely Toowoomba Chapel for Civil and Religious Ceremonies
     I was in Toowoomba last Monday in an advisory role to look at a venue that may be suitable for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The consensus was: ‘Not Suitable’, however, while I was there I saw a marvellous location for both ceremony and reception that is totally suitable.  It’s Preston Village Chapel and Preston Manor. Old wonderful buildings have been transported to the hilltop of a small valley, just outside Toowoomba.

     Here’s a quote: ‘Preston Village Chapel, over 100 years old, has been lovingly restored to perfection and seats over100 guests, is fully decorated, has a quality organ, historic Tasmanian oak pews, original polished floors and PA system.’ The owners are a great team. Merrilyn loves running the place and Colin is the enthusiastic landscaper. Both have input into design and development. They have inspiring plans for the future. I wish them great success. Click for their site.
Three weddings soon in the Heart Garden
     When I got back home to Canberra, our Heart Garden was bursting with new blooms. The roses were in full first flush, there was a clematis the size of a dinner plate! See below.

There were flowers everywhere! Canberra had a mass of rain the night before I left and while I was away there was warm constant sunshine. I also noticed that we had moved from the open sunny effect of mid-Spring to the cool shady effect of late Spring.

     There will be three weddings in the Heart Garden in the next four weeks, and I can guarantee the brides and grooms that their venue will be superb. If you, or someone you know in Canberra is looking for a quiet private serene setting for their small weekday wedding, then think about the Heart Garden in Weston. It’s beautiful, it’s unique, it’s welcoming and memorable. (And it’s free.)
     If you’d like to email me about your wedding, please click here. I welcome your questions and comments. 

Till next time



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