There are so many details of a wedding that a bride needs to consider – the dress, the flowers, the venue – and of course the celebrant. They are the person who will solemnize your marriage and officially makes you and your partner, husband and wife.
Where do you start and how do you choose the celebrant that is right for you?
The Legal Side
To be legally married In Australia, the ceremony must be performed by an authorised celebrant, but you may choose whether you want a civil or religious ceremony. There are four types of celebrants with this authority:
- A Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who performs a religious ceremony, for an independent religious organisation.
- A Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who conducts a civil ceremony, for people who may have religious beliefs, but who choose not to get married in a religious building.
- A Minister of Religion who conducts a religious ceremony, and who belongs to a recognised denomination.
- A State official who performs a civil ceremony.
Civil marriages have outnumbered religious services since 1999. In fact, 72% of Australians choose to use a civil marriage celebrant. These days couples tend to want a more personalised ceremony and sense of place that has a meaning for them. If you choose a civil marriage celebrant, you can have your wedding virtually anywhere –a beach, a park, a boat or a backyard.
Before the Wedding
Whether you decide on a civil or a religious marriage celebrant, you must check that they are registered with the Australian Government, which gives them the authority to conduct your marriage. This includes legal advice and processing all the necessary paperwork. You’ll need to provide them with the following documentation:
- A Notice of Intended Marriage form is to be submitted at least a calendar month before your wedding day, and up to 18 months ahead. The form is evidence that you pass the requirements to get married in Australia. It is possible to have it approved in less than a month, but this is limited to specific situations.
- Proof of identity. For people born in Australia, a birth certificate is required. If you were born overseas, your home country’s passport will suffice. From 1st July 2014 an Australian passport can be used to show the place and date of your birth if neither of the other options is available.
- If you have previously been married, you need to provide original divorce decree papers or the death certificate of your previous spouse.
During the Wedding
All celebrants must:
- Introduce themselves to the congregation, to identify themselves as the person who is legally conducting the ceremony
- Declare the bride and groom’s full names, so the congregation can identify with them
- Recite a monitum (Latin for ‘warning’) from the Marriage Act, which begins, “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages”.
- The couple must say their wedding vows out aloud.
After the Wedding
Just after the ceremony the new husband and wife, two witnesses, and the celebrant all need to sign the marriage certificates. The couple get to keep one, the celebrant keeps the second, and the final certificate gets sent to the State as an official record of the marriage.
The final task of your celebrant is to have your marriage registered, within 2 weeks, in the territory or state where you had your wedding. This notification must be made to the registry of births, deaths and marriages.
The Personal Side
This is an immensely important day for you, and the decision about who solemnizes your wedding is an essential one.
The best advice is to is to look for the sort of person who has the qualities that attract you in friendship because this is probably the Celebrant who will give you the ceremony that will leave you with happy memories. Choosing a celebrant by price will not deliver what you need.
Recommendations and testimonials are always helpful as well and here at the Waterfront Function Centre were happy to recommend some of our specialist suppliers like Coral Kortlepel and Deborah Jenkins.
You also need to consider the location for your big day. Here’s a handy list of local ceremony locations in the St George and Sutherland Shire to check out.