Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Australia

Marriage has been proposed and now the fun begins!

Planning a wedding can be an exciting time, however before you dive in, here are some important legal requirements that you should be aware of before you making your love legal.

The first step is to check that you are legally able to be married in Australia.

Read the points below to check that you and your partner are all hunky dory and ready to go.


Before the Ceremony

You must:

  • not be married to anyone else
  • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister – including adopted siblings
  • be eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old
  • both understand what marriage means and freely consent to the union
  • complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form and lodge it with your celebrant at least one month before the wedding.  You can do this up to eighteen months before your ceremony.
  • provide your celebrant with evidence of your date and place of birth, and prove that your are who you say you are with photo ID (a passport does all of these things, otherwise a birth certificate + a driver’s licence does the trick)
  • You will also need to prove the ending of any previous marriages for each party showing your original divorce or death certificate.

During the Ceremony

  • The ceremony must take place in the presence of an Authorised Celebrant. All authorised celebrants will have a registration number and are listed on the Attorney General’s wesite
  • You both must sign a declaration stating that you believe there is no legal impediment to your marriage. This must be done with your celebrant, as close as possible to the marriage ceremony.
  • In accordance with the Marriage Act 1961, the celebrant must say the following words:

Authorised Celebrant:

“My name is [celebrant’s full name] and I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law”

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence, and in the presence of these witnesses, I must remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship that you are about to enter.”

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

  • There are also certain words that must to be said by you.

Legal Wording for Couples:

“I call upon the people here present to witness that I,[your name], take you, [your partner’s name] to be my legally wedded wife/husband/spouse.”

  • The full names of the marrying couple must be mentioned somewhere in the ceremony (for purposes of identification of the parties). This is usually done in the introduction.
  • You must have 2 witnesses who appear over the age of 18 and preferably know who you are
  • You, your witnesses and your celebrant will sign three marriage certificates:
    • 1st – is sent to Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state the ceremony is held to be registered
    • 2nd – is kept by the celebrant
    • 3rd – is the fancy one that is kept by you

After the Ceremony

If you would like to change your name:

  • You can simply assume your partner’s name without doing anything OR
  • You can officially change your name on your passport, driver’s licence, at the bank, etc… using an official BDM stamped marriage certificate.  However, the pretty certificate that you receive on your wedding day, whilst still a legal document and proves that you are married, is not enough to change your name with government bodies.  You will need to apply for a copy of your ‘official’ marriage certificate, stamped and issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (in the state where your marriage took place) then you take that certificate into all the places where you’d like your name changed.  (Talk to me about sending in your application with your marriage documents – saving you a big job after the ceremony)

For more information and a handy list to help you in this quest – click here!