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27 March 2017

Three little-known facts about name change with marriage in Australia

Hello, and welcome

Here's the perfect venue for a vintage-style wedding

Brooke and Aidan married
at Albert Hall Yarralumla ACT
11 March 2017

My friends Brooke and Aidan were married this month at the Albert Hall. Brooke looked so beautiful in a vintage-style wedding frock and Aidan looked very fine. The Albert Hall is an excellent venue for setting up your own reception and providing your own catering.
(I also recommend Griffith Neighbourhood Centre.)

I can tell you from personal experience that our grand old Albert Hall has an excellent floor for dancing!

Here are three little known facts about name change with marriage in Australia

Fact One 
Name change for bride or groom, or neither - the choice is yours

Did you know that the Australian marriage Act, even though it goes back to the very conservative time of 1961, has never been gender-specific about name change? It's been traditional in Australian society for a bride to change her family name with marriage, to that of her new husband. The leaflet your celebrant gives you called 'Happily ever before and after' has recently been modified to make it clear to couples that the groom can change his family name with marriage, if he wishes. It's actually been that way since 1961.

Lyn and Mat married in
The Heart Garden
6 March 2017
No one is obliged by law in Australia to change their name with marriage. The bride may choose to take a married name. She may then choose to use either her birth name or her married name, according to the situation. For example, she may use her birth name at work and her married name at her child's school. Likewise for the groom. He may take the bride's surname if he wishes and use it in
circumstances of his choice. In my experience as a celebrant, three husbands have chosen to take their wife's family name as their own.

Bride and groom may decide to join their surnames together to make a composite married name, for example Belle Smith may marry Henry Chan. They may become Mr and Mrs Chan Smith, or maybe Belle and Henry Smith-Chan.

Fact Two
Name change takes place when you make your vows of marriage

Name change takes place when you make your vows of marriage, which is, of course, during your wedding ceremony.

When you make legal marriage vows, this is also the time when your marriage legally comes into effect. In ceremonies I conduct, I always draw this fact to the attention of the bride and groom before their ceremony. I then suggest they focus only on each other when they make their pledges of exclusive and lifelong commitment to each other in marriage.

You'll sign three certificates during or after your ceremony. Your certificates will state that a marriage has already taken place.

When you sign your three certificates, because you will already be legally married, you may already have taken your new married name. All marriage documents however must be signed with your usual signature – not your new one.

Cathy married Matt at Pialligo Estate ACT
The rain stopped, the sun shone and the wind blew.
18 February 2017
The marriage documents include your Notice of Intended Marriage and the Declarations you must sign before your ceremony to declare that there's no legal impediment to your marriage with each other (such as being married to someone else, or being too young to legally marry).

Plus, there are three Certificates of Marriage which you'll sign, either during or after your wedding ceremony. Your celebrant keeps one of these, you take one, and one is sent to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for the registration of your legal marriage. You can then purchase a copy of this certificate from the Registrar.

Fact Three
There are no government forms to fill in for changing your name by way of marriage

If in ordinary circumstances, a person chose to formally change their name, they'd need to apply for a Change of Name Certificate and pay a fee to the Registrar in the state or territory they were born in. (If born overseas, they may also have this option in Australia.) If a person changed their name by way of marriage though, they wouldn't need to do this.

You can begin using your new name straight after your wedding ceremony. Sometimes I call my Heart Garden 'a magic garden'. A bride (or groom, or both) can arrive with one name and leave with another!
Jack and Jordan  receive their Certificate of Marriage
The Heart Garden  Weston ACT 18 March 2017

If you wish to use your married name for an official purpose, you'll need proof of legal name change. You may want to change your name on your licence for instance, or get a new passport. For any purpose like this, you'll need official evidence that you've changed your name with marriage. Here's a link about getting a new passport, which may be cost-free.

From your wedding, you'll take with you, an attractive Certificate of Marriage.

If I'm your celebrant, your certificate will be filled in with the font of your choice. I'll also give you the wording of your ceremony, printed in the same font, on parchment to match your Certificate. They'll both be in a plastic wallet for safe-keeping.

This certificate will be your personal certificate. Even though it's a legal document, you can't use it for official purposes.
Michele presents Martin and Pia with their personal Marriage Certificate
Dickson ACT     25 March 2017
For an Official Certificate of Marriage, you must apply to the Registrar in the state or territory in which you were married. Your official certificate will have a registration number on it. You'll pay a fee to the Registrar. (Currently it's $58 in the ACT.)

You'll probably apply online, or you can apply at a local ACT Access shopfront. They're in Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Woden. Note here that the Births, Deaths and Marriages shopfront in Fyshwick has recently closed.

You can arrange to collect your certificate from Access, or pay an extra eight dollars to have it sent to you by registered post. You'll need to sign for it when it arrives, or sign for it at your local post office.

You can apply for an Official Certificate of Marriage straight after your wedding, or any time after that. The timing is your choice.

Thanks for reading this blogpost. Now you're well-informed about three little-known facts about changing your name with marriage in Australia.

If you'd like me to be celebrant at your own wedding

If you'd like me to be celebrant at your own wedding, I thank you for this privilege. Simple weddings are now my specialty. 'Beautifully simple and simply beautiful'. We have no registry office weddings in the ACT, so marrying couples must choose a private civil celebrant, or a church. (The last Registry Office weddings in Canberra were held about twenty years ago.)

Autumn colours will soon be happening
in The Heart Garden
Your simple wedding can be any size, at any time, on any day (or evening) in any location of your choice. If you'd like to have a small wedding in my Heart Garden, the maximum number of guests is around ten. Heart Garden weddings are held on weekdays only, beginning at 10.30 in the morning. 4.30 in the afternoon is the latest, probably 3.30 when Daylight Saving ends on Sunday 2 April.

Please contact me using this contact form. Or email me. Or phone or text me, any day between 9am and 9pm on 0406 376 375. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about getting married in Australia, whether you choose me as your celebrant or not. We can arrange a Skype chat if you wish.

If you' like plan to marry as soon as possible, I can help you marry exactly one month from the day of our first contact. There's more information here.

Please note that I only have wedding meetings with couples who have booked me as their celebrant.
If you're planning to marry, I'd be delighted to be there for you both as your celebrant at your simple, but still very special and most memorable, wedding.


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