Having been an authorised Marriage Celebrant since 2013, I’ve found there are a number of questions which regularly come up in conversation with couples in relation to marriage in Australia. “More wedding FAQs answered” addresses five more commonly asked questions:
Q1: My partner and I don’t feel the need for a wedding rehearsal. Do we have to have one?
A: No, there is nothing in the Marriage Act 1961 that says you must have a rehearsal. If your wedding involves you, your partner and two witnesses or if it’s a small, intimate wedding, you may feel as though everyone has an understanding of their roles and what will happen so that a rehearsal is unnecessary.
If anyone’s unsure, or if you have a large bridal party, I would recommend a rehearsal so I can step you through the key elements of the ceremony beforehand. Typically, I will chat about the order of arrival for the girls in the bridal party and practise how fast they will walk in to the ceremony location as well as how much space to leave between them. I will also mention where you, your partner and your bridal party will stand, the “giving away” and exchange of rings (if you’re including these things), saying your vows (whether repeating them line by line after the celebrant, or reading them from vow cards), signing of the certificates, when to play any music you’ve chosen etc.
The rehearsal is usually also a great time for me to witness your signatures on the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage. If you don’t have a rehearsal, arrangements will need to be made to meet with you before the ceremony can take place in order for this important document to be signed.
Q2: I divorced my first husband over 20 years ago and have reverted to my maiden name. The name on my final divorce order is my former married name and does not match the name on my birth certificate or passport. I no longer have a copy of my marriage certificate which shows my maiden name and that of my former husband. How do I prove that I am one and the same person and that my first marriage has (legally) ended?
A: According to the Marriage Act 1961, your celebrant is required to sight evidence that your first marriage has ended and this is via your final divorce order. Although this document will not include your maiden name, it will show your first and any middle names which should match the names on your birth certificate. Importantly, your celebrant will also ask you (and your partner) to sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage before they are able to marry you. All couples marrying in Australia are required to sign this legal form. It is a Statutory Declaration and there are penalties imposed if you sign it knowing that any of the information contained therein is inaccurate. In part (at 2a), it states that neither you nor your partner are married to another person. If you can sign this form truthfully, your celebrant should be satisfied that your first marriage has been dissolved.
Q3: Since completing our Notice of Intended Marriage, we have changed address and my occupation has also changed. Do we need to make any changes to the NOIM lodged with our celebrant?
A: No. When completing the NOIM you are actually giving “notice” that you intend to marry and so should complete this document with information that is accurate at the time you lodge it. As long as you let your celebrant know the relevant changes, they will be able to update their notes and include the new details on the Certificates of Marriage they prepare for you to sign. Your marriage will then be registered with Births Deaths & Marriages with the information that is correct at the time of your marriage.
Q4: What happens in the unlikely event that my celebrant is unable to officiate at our wedding?
A: Most celebrants have a network of other celebrants whom they know and, in circumstances like this, they or someone close to them will be able to make contact to see if they are able to take over your ceremony. While it is a possibility that your celebrant will be unavailable at the eleventh hour due for example to illness, in reality, this kind of thing happens very rarely.
If you do find yourself in this position, your celebrant will arrange to transfer your Notice of Intended Marriage (by hand or registered mail) to the new celebrant. If both celebrants use LifeLink to register their marriages in NSW, your original celebrant will be able to transfer your online record to your new celebrant. Your new celebrant is then legally required to sight your documents for themselves as they (and not your original celebrant) will be attesting to the fact that your documents are all in order. So, assuming you know in advance, you MUST bring your documents with you to the ceremony i.e. your birth certificate and photo ID such as a driver licence, or your passport, plus evidence of how your last marriage (if you have been married before) ended e.g. via death, divorce or dissolution.
If you are travelling from interstate or it will be difficult to obtain your documents at short notice, it is ALWAYS a good idea to bring them with you. If you are travelling from overseas, you will have your passport with you but you would also need to have with you the evidence of how your last marriage ended (if relevant.)
Your celebrant will also email a copy of the ceremony they wrote for you through to your new celebrant. While it’s very likely you won’t know your new celebrant personally, you will have comfort in knowing that they will be delivering your ceremony with the words that your original celebrant wrote specifically for you and, importantly, you will be legally married in front of your family and friends on the day you have chosen as your wedding day.
Q5: How many times should we meet with our celebrant before our marriage?
This really depends on you and your celebrant. I usually meet with couples three times before their wedding day.
(i) Our initial meeting is where I step each couple through the legal elements, show them my resource folder and answer any questions they may have. If they’re ready to book, we’ll also complete a Notice of Intended Marriage.
(ii) Our second meeting is designed to gather further information, ask lots of easy questions and start putting together a framework for the ceremony, including the people and things that are special to the couple.
(iii) Our third meeting is for the rehearsal which most couples choose to have.
I love meeting with couples as it allows me to get to know them better each time and connect with them on a personal level.
If you live interstate or overseas, one or two Facebook Messenger video chats or Skype calls are another way to connect face-to-face so that, when you finally meet on your wedding day, you will feel as though you’re not strangers.
If you are having a “legals only” wedding, it’s likely that you’ll meet your celebrant only once a minimum of one month (and up to 18 months) before your wedding day. You will need to sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage before you marry but this can be done on your wedding day as long as it happens before the commencement of your ceremony.
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Note: Periodically, I will write further on the topic of “More wedding FAQs answered”. If you have a specific question which has not been answered, please feel free to contact me. Here’s the link which details how to get in touch with me: http://www.lindycookecelebrant.com.au/contact/
052 – 30/06/2018
© Lindy Cooke Celebrant