Shortening of Time


Have you decided to get married and then realised that you haven’t given your celebrant the required 1 month and 1 day notice?

Save the date

All is not lost.  

If you read through the information below, you may find that your circumstances fall under one of the 5 reasons that allows you to apply for a shortening of time……

“Despite a notice required by subsection (1) having been received later than 1 month before the date of the marriage, a prescribed authority may authorise an authorized celebrant to solemnize a marriage if the authority is satisfied that one or more of the circumstances prescribed in the regulations have been met.” — Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961.

Section 42 of the Act provides that, prior to a marriage taking place a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) must be given by the couple and received by the authorised celebrant solemnizing the marriage.  That notice must be given not earlier than 18 months before the date of the marriage and not later than one month before the date of the marriage.  In other words, the authorised celebrant must receive the NOIM at least one month, and no more than 18 months, before the wedding date.

Situations arise from time to time when a couple will approach a celebrant seeking to be married with less than a month available to give the required notice.  In many cases there will be a legitimate reason for this and so it is provided for in the Marriage Act 1961 and the Marriage Regulations 1963. It should be noted that shortening is only granted in extraordinary circumstances, and only for the circumstances provided for in Schedule 1B of the Marriage Regulations 1963 (Cth).

Circumstances for authorising marriage despite late notice

1              Employment‑related or other travel commitments 

(1)   A circumstance is that the marriage should be solemnized despite the required notice not having been received in time because a party to the intended marriage or someone involved with the proposed wedding:

(a)    has employment commitments that necessitate the person’s absence from the location of the proposed wedding for a considerable period of time; or

(b)    has other travel commitments.

Examples 

1   A party to the intended marriage has accepted an offer of employment for imminent transfer or posting overseas or to a part of Australia distant from the location of the proposed wedding for at least 3 months, and wishes to be married with the party’s family and friends present before the departure.

2   A party to the intended marriage realises that a close relative or friend of the party is in Australia but the relative or friend has a non‑redeemable ticket for departure from Australia within less than a month, and the party wishes the relative or friend to be present at the wedding.

(2)   In determining whether the circumstance in subclause (1) is met, the prescribed authority may take into account the following:

(a)    documents relating to the employment commitments such as a letter of offer and a letter of acceptance;

(b)    documents relating to the travel such as a dated receipt or a ticket;

(c)    any explanation provided for not giving the notice sooner;

(d)    any explanation provided for not postponing the proposed wedding;

(e)    whether hardship would be caused to a party to the intended marriage if the marriage is not solemnized as proposed;

(f)    any other matter that the prescribed authority considers relevant.

2              Wedding or celebration arrangements 

(1)   A circumstance is that the marriage should be solemnized despite the required notice not having been received in time because of the binding nature of the wedding arrangements or celebration arrangements made in connection with the intended marriage, or because of any religious consideration.

Example 

Arrangements and non‑refundable payments of a considerable sum have been made for the proposed wedding, or for any celebration associated with the intended marriage, and the date for the wedding or celebration cannot be changed.

(2)   In determining whether the circumstance in subclause (1) is met, the prescribed authority may take into account the following:

(a)    documents showing the extent of preparations for the proposed wedding, such as receipts showing dates and amounts of payments connected with the wedding;

(b)    in the case of a religious consideration — the nature of the consideration;

(c)    any explanation provided for not giving the notice sooner;

(d)    any explanation provided for not postponing the proposed wedding;

(e)    whether hardship would be caused to a party to the intended marriage if the marriage is not solemnized as proposed;

(f)    any other matter that the prescribed authority considers relevant.

3              Medical reasons 

(1)   A circumstance is that the marriage should be solemnized despite the required notice not having been received in time because a party to the intended marriage, or someone involved with the proposed wedding, is suffering from a medical condition of a serious nature.

Example 

A party to the intended marriage, or a parent or close relative of the party, has a serious illness that will prevent the person from attending the wedding unless it is held in less than a month.

(2)   In determining whether the circumstance in subclause (1) is met, the prescribed authority may take into account the following:

(a)    a letter from a medical practitioner or other health professional confirming the relevant health circumstances;

(b)    any explanation provided for not giving the notice sooner;

(c)    any other matter that the prescribed authority considers relevant.

4              Legal proceedings 

(1)   A circumstance is that the marriage should be solemnized despite the required notice not having been received in time because a party to the intended marriage is involved in a legal proceeding.

Example 

A party to the intended marriage is subject to a pending court proceeding, and is at risk of imprisonment.

(2)   In determining whether the circumstance in subclause (1) is met, the prescribed authority may take into account the following:

(a)    a sealed copy of any applicable court order;

(b)    a letter from the party’s solicitor stating the dates and nature of a pending court proceeding;

(c)    any explanation provided for not giving the notice sooner;

(d)    any explanation provided for not postponing the proposed wedding;

(e)    whether hardship would be caused to a party to the intended marriage if the marriage is not solemnized as proposed;

(f)    any other matter that the prescribed authority considers relevant.

5              Error in giving notice 

(1)   A circumstance is that the marriage should be solemnized despite the required notice not having been received in time because:

(a)    it was due only to error on the part of an authorized celebrant (or a person whom the parties to the intended marriage believed to be an authorized celebrant) that the required notice was not given or that the notice given was invalid, stale or lost; and

(b)    arrangements have been made for the proposed wedding to take place within the one month period.

Examples 

1   The parties have given significant notice to the authorized celebrant orally, and arrangements for the proposed wedding have been made, but written notice was not given in the required time because the authorized celebrant failed to explain the notice requirements properly.

2   The parties have given written notice in the required time, and arrangements for the proposed wedding have been made, but the notice is invalid because the person to whom the notice was given was not yet registered as a marriage celebrant.

3   The parties have given written notice in the required time, and arrangements for celebrations have been made to follow the marriage ceremony, but the notice was lost by the authorized celebrant.

(2)   In determining whether the circumstance in subclause (1) is met, the prescribed authority may take into account the following:

(a)    documents confirming why the notice was not given, such as a letter confirming an earlier interview with the parties to the intended marriage;

(b)    a letter from the person to whom the notice was given explaining why the notice was invalid, stale or lost;

(c)    documents showing the arrangements made in connection with the proposed wedding;

(d)    any other matter that the prescribed authority considers relevant.

Prescribed Authority

To shorten the timeframe for submitting the Notice of Intended Marriage, the bride and groom must obain approval from a prescribed authority.

Please note that a Marriage Celebrant cannot shorten this time period. In addition, it is important to note that the date of receipt of the Notice of Intended Marriage cannot be backdated. Solemnising a marriage without the proper notice having been given is an offence (Section 99).