THE LEGAL BITS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT!
You have set the date and the excitement is setting in but before you get too carried away there are some legal bits of getting married that you need to be aware of. I know it’s boring, but it’s really important. Marriage in Australia is a legal process and as such there are certain legal hoops that you are obliged to jump through.
There are four requirements to fulfil:
You can’t be married to someone else, that’s called bigamy
You must be over 18 (there are circumstances in which people under 18 can marry and these can be discussed with your celebrant if you or your intended spouse is under 18)
You must not be in a prohibited relationship
You must give real consent to the marriage
Before you get married, there is some legal documentation that needs to be completed. This paperwork supports the requirements above and as legal documents there are penalties for providing false information!
Notice of Intended Marriage
The Notice of Intended Marriage needs completing and lodging with your celebrant no less than 1 month and no more than 18 months prior to your wedding. To complete it you will need your birth certificate or passport, a form of photo ID, and the proof of dissolution of your previous marriage – i.e. a divorce or death certificate, if appropriate.
Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage
The Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage must be made before the marriage is solemnised. This should occur as close as possible to the ceremony and could be completed at your rehearsal or a pre wedding catch up. Remember those requirements for getting married I listed before? This form asks you both to attest that you meet those.
During the ceremony on your wedding day, there are four things that must happen: The celebrant must introduce himself or herself by name and as an authorised celebrant and include the Monitum. This is the bit where we explain the nature of the marriage relationship. Both parties must recite the legal Form of Vows as laid out in the Marriage Act and the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant must sign all three marriage certificates, hand the Form 15 to one of the parties.
You both must say the following sentence for your marriage to be valid:
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”; or words to that effect.
Witnesses must be over 18 years of age, and must be able to hear and understand the ceremony.
What this boils down to is that there are 126 legally required words that must be said during the ceremony and we need to sign some paperwork. Hopefully this has given you some idea of the legal framework for getting married, but remember that in practice a wedding ceremony shouldn’t be boring or generic – there’s plenty of room for love, romance, laughter and fun and that is where a really good celebrant comes into his or her own.
The personal touches are the aspects that make the service unique to you, the couple and are a reflection of their relationship and their story so far.
I encourage you to think about what you want the service to say about you as a couple and how best can we get your personality into the service. There are a number of unity ceremony options such as Balloon Releases, Bubble Release, Sand Ceremonies and cultural elements you can add, all of which can help to really personalise your ceremony.
The music you choose will also make the service your own, as will the readings you choose. These decisions help to determine the overall feel of the day, do you want ultra romantic or are you more down to earth and practical or fun loving and want some humour in your ceremony?
You can personalise your Vows, as long as the legal requirements are met. This is again an opportunity to set the tone for the day. You get to say whatever you want, using whatever words you choose to communicate whatever you want! Your celebrant can help you if you struggle with this sort of thing and will be happy to help get your Vows absolutely perfect.
Involve your family and friends if you want to, they can be involved in any way you want the to be. So, once you have the legal bits covered let your imagination run wild, have the day that you truly dream of and don’t settle for anything less.
Make sure your celebrant understands exactly what you want and will work with you to achieve that with no undue stress on you. Instead you enjoy the lead up to your special day and absorb the day itself, savour every moment and enjoy each part of it. Walk away with wonderful, long lasting memories.
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