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

09 November 2016

When are the magic moments of marriage?

Hello, and welcome
Paul and Kara married on a warm spring day at Rose Cottage, Tuggeranong
Saturday 15 October 2016
Of course marriage has many magic moments, especially in the early days. That’s between the two of you. What I’m referring to here are the magical, life-changing moments that your marriage actually and legally comes into effect. (Even if you want a really ‘low key’ wedding, there’ll still be a significant change in status.)

When do you think that time is?
A When you say ‘I do’?
B When your celebrant pronounces you ‘husband and wife’?
C When you sign your certificates?
D When you marriage is registered with the Registrar?
E  None of the above.

The most popular answer is probably C When you sign your certificates, but this isn’t right. Your three certificates of marriage will state that a legal marriage has already been solemnised. The certificate you’ll take home with you on the day (which, if I’m your celebrant, I’ll prepare in the font of your choice) states:
I (celebrant) having authority under the Marriage Act 1961 to solemnise marriages, hereby certify that I have this day at (location) duly solemnised marriage in accordance with the provisions of that Act between (bride and groom) in the presence of the undersigned witnesses.
Vicki married Quintin
in the Heart Garden
Friday 14 October 2016
 A is a popular answer as well. When you say ‘I do’. This is correct but it’s not always possible.
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 this person to be your husband/wife?’ And you can say ‘I do’. Then you are legally married. If you get married by a civil celebrant however, this is not possible.

The Australian government does not allow ‘I do’ marriage vows in civil ceremonies. You must state your legal name in your marriage vow and your celebrant can’t do this for you. (They can say your name in a vow for you to repeat, but you must state your name yourself to make your marriage legal.)

The most applicable answer then, to When do you think your marriage actually and legally comes into effect? would be E None of the above.

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 the present nature of marriage in Australia. That is - it’s voluntary, exclusive and permanent between a man and a woman. Or between a woman and a man, if you both want this option instead.

Before you make your vows of marriage, your celebrant must also state their legal name and 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. Again, you can have an option here for your celebrant to say ‘authorise’ or ‘legalise’.

At the end of your ceremony, you may choose to have your celebrant pronounce that you are now husband and wife. Even though your celebrant may imply that ‘with the power vested in me’ they’re making your marriage happen, this pronouncement is completely optional. It’s not a legal requirement.

When your celebrant pronounces you ‘husband and wife’, your marriage is already in legal effect. Then you 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 they’re related to you, that’s not a problem.

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.
Michele, with Amy after her marriage to Tim
at the Canberra Southern Cross Club Yatch Club
22 October 2016
You can apply for an official certificate of marriage from the Registrar as soon as you are wed.

When your paperwork has been processed at the Registrar’s Office you can buy your certificate. Again this will say that a marriage was solemnised (aka legalised) on a certain date at a certain place. You will need this certificate for all official purposes, such as changing your driver’s licence, for work records, or for getting a new passport.

The certificate you receive at your wedding is your personal certificate only. But just because you can’t use your personal certificate for official purposes, this doesn’t mean that it’s not a totally legal document. Your personal certificate will have a unique number on the back and that number will be on the record with the Attorney-General.
When Steve and Michelle were married in the Heart Garden, Steve just couldn't stop smiling!
Friday 4 Novermber 2016
So when are the magical moments of marriage?

Only you two know the intimate answer to this. But when we’re talking about the precise time that your legal marriage takes place, here is the final answer:

It’s when you make your vows of marriage to one another. If you’re in church, the magical moments 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.

The pronouncement by your celebrant at the end of your ceremony of ‘husband and wife’ (if you choose to have this) confirms that a legal marriage is already in effect. So do your three certificates of marriage with their five signatures. So does the official certificate you buy from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Chris and Lis had a small quiet family wedding
in the Heart Garden
Monday 10 October 2016
By the way, 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 this official evidence from the Registrar for work records, driver’s licence, passport and so on.

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 your life together. By law, you’d need to give me at least one month’s notice. You can do this in person, by email, or by text. When you contact me, I’ll explain how to make your wedding happen ASAP. If there’s no hurry, we can have a one-hour meeting together (in Weston) on a Monday or Wednesday evening.

Please contact me by email, or by phone or text on 0406 376 375. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. We can arrange a Skype meet if you wish, with or without video. (No obligation implied here to choose me to be your celebrant.)
Vicki, Quintin and Michele
At the end of this year, my full service, in which I give lots of help to craft a longer, more individualised ceremony, will come to an end. My simple service that’s a lovely alternative to a registry office wedding, will continue to be available. On my Fee page, you’ll find info on what’s included in the Simple (but still special) Service, and my Full Service as well.