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.

19 March 2018

For your beautifully simple and simply beautiful wedding

Hello, and welcome

Christina has walked along the garden path with her father,
to begin her married life with Steve. I think the feeling captured in 

this image is just beautiful.
The Heart Garden    27 December 2017
     Because there are no registry office weddings in the ACT, as a Canberra civil marriage celebrant, I specialise in simple ceremonies. I call them beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They're short and fully legal, but they're also moving and sincere, and very memorable.
     I provide a registry-office wedding alternative in the private, peaceful surroundings of my beautiful Heart Garden, or at any other venue of your choice. 
     I've been a celebrant for over a thousand weddings, mostly in Canberra and nearby New South Wales, so I can recommend places that could be just perfect for your big day. (I know, for instance, what is flowering where, and when.)
     If you choose to marry in my Heart Garden, there is no extra fee for this. I'm also the Heart Gardener, so I'll put many hours into making the garden look its best for you and your guests. The Heart Garden Weston ACT will be written on your three Certificates of Marriage.
     You may marry in my garden on any day. The maximum number of (adult) guests is ten. All children are welcome. If the weather's not human-friendly, your ceremony and signing can take place in my green room, with windows in three walls overlooking the garden.
Michele, handing over a 
Certificate of Marriage
at a private Heart

Garden wedding
December 2017     
     BYO bubbly or other celebration drink and I'll supply the crystal flutes. Maybe bring a favourite music track for your entrance along the garden path.
     I will travel to any venue for your wedding, on any day (or night) with any number of guests. If you have about 30 guests or more, I'll bring my high-quality portable PA system.
     As a celebrant, I'm experienced, friendly, flexible and efficient. Six civil marriage celebrants have chosen me as celebrant for their own weddings. This is my favourite endorsement of the service I provide.

Preparing for your wedding

     I have streamlined the pre-marriage process into one one-hour meeting. This is held at least one month before your wedding day, as required by law. You'll lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage with me at our meeting (not the Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages).
Such a special day for Thao and Kirill
Married in the Heart Garden
3 February 2018
     From our meeting, you'll both be confident about exactly how your wedding will go. You'll also choose your wording at our meeting. It will fit on just one A4 page. That certainly is simple, but you'll also have the opportunity to add personal vows. (About 50% of couples choose to do this I've found.)
     I usually hold wedding meetings (in Weston) on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Please note here that I only have meetings with couples who book me as their celebrant.
     If you wish to marry ASAP, you'll still need to wait the legal month (unless the Registrar grants you a shortening of time in extraordinary circumstances). When you contact me about your wedding, I'll tell you how to lodge your Notice with me straightaway so you can marry in exactly one month's time.
     Absolutely everything for your legal marriage is included in my fee of $600. (If your wedding's out of town I'll add a bit extra for travel beyond Canberra's limits.)
     As soon as you contact me, I'll email you a Notice of Intended Marriage and three files of information about the pre-marriage process, including the documents you'll need to produce (such as passports or birth certificates). I'll send full details of the service I provide.
     When you lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage, I'll sight your required documents. As required by law, I'll explain legal obligations and give you information about getting married in Australia. I'll help you choose your ceremony wording. After your wedding, I'll send your papers to the Registrar.

Your wedding

     Your ceremony could be as short as five minutes but with the signing, the photos and mingling with your guests, your wedding will probably last about an hour. It's not unusual for a wedding in my garden to last an hour and a half, maybe two. 
Yessa and Rex, joyful newlyweds
Nara Peace Park Canberra
27 January 2o18
     In Australia you can't 'just do the paperwork'. You must have a ceremony and that ceremony will have certain compulsory parts, eg your legal names must be announced at some time during the ceremony. You must be informed by your celebrant of the legal nature of marriage in Australia.
     You'll actually legally marry during your marriage ceremony when you make vows of marriage to one another. This must be done in the presence of your celebrant and at least two witnesses. Legal name change also takes place with the making of your verbal marriage vows, if that's your choice.
     Even though you must call on 'all those here present' to witness your marriage, legally you'll only need two adults to do so. Your witnesses must be 18 or over. They can be family if you wish. If you want to elope or keep your wedding very private, I can help find witnesses for you.
     There'll be three certificates of marriage to prove that your marriage has taken place. I'll send one of these certificates to the Registrar for the registration of your marriage and keep one for my records. 
     You'll take home with you, a personal marriage certificate (in the font of your choice) along with your ceremony, printed on parchment, also in the font of your choice. 
     Your ceremony will be short and simple, but it will still be memorable and special. All legal requirements will be included but you'll have the opportunity to add your own personal touches to make it unique. 
I love brides! And I love the heartfelt
feelings that we share 
on their day of days.
Here Lin gives me a
hug of happiness,
after she married Lee
in the Formal Gardens of
Parliament House 
     I invite you to bring your own personal vows with you to your wedding. Or you may like to just hold hands and ad lib special messages to each other. Perhaps you'll simply want to make vows of marriage.
     With your wording I'll give you all the options that are legally allowed by the Attorney-General. For instance, you've probably heard at weddings of friends and family: 'all persons here present' many times over, but you won't be limited to this. You may prefer 'all people here present'. Or you may like to keep it really simple and friendly with 'everybody here' or 'everyone here'.
Let's make contact

     I love being a celebrant and I feel privileged to be an integral part of such a significant event, as two people in love begin their married life together.
     Please feel free to contact me about your wedding any day, at any time from 9am to 9pm, by phone, text, email or PM on my facebook page - Michele the Celebrant Canberra.      
     There's an email contact form on this page, or here. We can arrange to Skype if you'd like, especially if you're living overseas when you lodge your Notice.
     I'd be delighted to be celebrant for you both on your most special day. 
     My delivery of your ceremony will be heartfelt and sincere. My voice is clear and well-modulated. If I'm your celebrant, I won't stand between you. I think when you see your wedding photos, you'll be really glad of this. I'll stand to the side, dressed in a way that won't attract attention. 
     You two will be standing together, at the centre of everything, sharing the time of your life!
     And my congratulations to you both.


Newlyweds Scott and Samantha share loving looks
The Heart Garden 10 February 2018

Samantha, Scott and Michele
Your day is my focus.
That's my promise.
It's my pleasure.