Lindy Cooke Celebrant

Unlocking the mystery of wedding terminology

WEDDING TERMINOLOGY – What does it all mean?

Understanding wedding terminology when marrying in Australia will help to unlock the mystery as you plan for your big day. Here are some of the terms most commonly used by marriage celebrants.



This acronym relates to a Notice of Intended Marriage. It is the first document that a couple will sign on their path to marriage.

A NOIM is valid for a period of 18 months from the date it is lodged (by hand or electronically) with an authorised marriage celebrant. A couple wishing to marry can legally marry at any time from one month after this time.

A NOIM must be signed in the presence of an authorised witness. These vary depending on where the NOIM is signed:

  • If a party signs a NOIM in Australia, this must be an authorised celebrant, a justice of the peace, a barrister or solicitor, a medical practitioner, or a member of the Australian Federal Police or the police force of a State or Territory.
  • If a party signs a NOIM outside Australia, this must be an Australian Consular Officer,an Australian Diplomatic Officer, a notary public, an employee of the Commonwealth authorised under paragraph 3(c) of the Consular Fees Act 1955, or an employee of the Australian Trade Commission authorised under paragraph 3(d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955.

One party can activate the NOIM if the other cannot reasonably be present (e.g. they are interstate or overseas or due to work commitments.) The other party must sign the NOIM in the presence of the authorised marriage celebrant before the marriage can take place.

Here is a link to where you can view and/or download a copy of this document. Usually, your celebrant will provide you with a NOIM and discuss it with you but you can complete it before meeting with him/her if you wish.



The words which make up the Monitum must be said by an authorised marriage celebrant at every wedding they officiate in Australia in order for it to be considered legal. They are as follows:

“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 am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now 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.”



These words must be said by both parties at their wedding in Australia in order for it to be considered legal. They are as follows:

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I (insert full name if not used previously or, if used previously, you may insert your first name, and your middle name/s if you wish) take thee (insert full name if not used previously or, if used previously, you may insert your first name, and your middle name/s if you wish) to be my lawful wedded (husband/wife/spouse.)”

According to the Marriage Act 1961:

  • “husband” or “wife” or “spouse” may be changed to “partner in marriage”
  • “call upon” may be changed to “ask”
  • “persons here present” may be changed to “people here present” or “everyone here” or “everybody here” or “everyone present here” or “everybody present here”
  • “thee” may be changed to “you”
  • the couple may leave out either “lawful” or “wedded” but not both.

Couples may choose, if they wish, to add personal vows after their legal vows have been said.



This acronym stands for Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage. This form appears on the reverse of one of the three Certificates of Marriage that an authorised marriage celebrant will supply for a couple (along with their two witnesses and their authorised marriage celebrant) to sign on their wedding day. By signing it, both parties confirm that:

  • neither of us is married to another person; and
  • neither of us is in a prohibited relationship (e.g. with a very close family member such as your mother, father, brother, sister or adopted brother or adopted sister); and
  • both of us are of marriageable age or, where one of us is under 18 years, that person has obtained the court’s consent to marry; and
  • there is no other circumstance that would be a legal impediment to the marriage.

Here is a link to where you can view a copy of this document. Note: Your celebrant will complete and provide this document for you to sign before your marriage takes place.

Note: The law states that the DONLIM must be signed as close as possible to the date of marriage to ensure that the statements it contains are still true for the couple on the day. My preference is to sign this document at a rehearsal in the week or so leading up to the wedding day. If one or both parties are unable to meet with their celebrant prior to their wedding day, this document must be signed by both parties and witnessed by their authorised marriage celebrant BEFORE the marriage ceremony can take place. It can be signed by one party and witnessed by their celebrant on one day, and then signed by the other party and witnessed by their celebrant on another day, if signing the document together is not practical before the ceremony takes place.



A shortening of time relates to permission from a prescribed authority for a couple to marry with less than one month’s notice. There are only five reasons why this is allowed and these and other information on this can be found by reading my earlier blog on this topic.



When a couple applies for a divorce, the court (if it approves the application) will issue a decree nisi at the hearing. The divorce then becomes final one month and one day later. A person cannot re-marry until they have the decree absolute in their possession. This document is issued via email.

If a person divorced after 13.2.10, they can go to this link to obtain a copy of their final divorce order for free.

If a person divorced prior to this date, applications for a copy of their final divorce order can be made, for a modest fee, through any Family Law Court.



This acronym stands for Births Deaths & Marriages. It is the governing body which registers each of these life events.

Here is the link to the NSW BDM site.



This certificate is issued by Births Deaths & Marriages in the State or Territory in which the marriage took place. Purchasing this certificate is optional and can only occur after a marriage has been registered. Obtaining a standard certificate of marriage enables one or both parties to legally change their surname to either that of their partner or to a  hyphenated version of both surnames if they wish. Note: a person never loses the right to revert to their birth name and can legally do this at a later time.

Currently, in NSW, a standard Certificate of Marriage costs $60. For couples marrying in NSW, I offer to order this certificate on their behalf (for the same fee that BDM would charge them to order it themselves) at the time I register their marriage. This fast tracks the process as I do it through a system called LifeLink which allows authorised marriage celebrants  to register marriages online (within two weeks of the wedding) and purchase certificates of marriage online (within eight weeks of the wedding) on behalf of their couples. In NSW, couples will normally receive their standard certificate of marriage via registered mail 2-6 working days after their celebrant placed an online order for it.



There are 15 unique commemorative certificate options currently available for purchase through NSW BDM. They can be purchased on their own or with a standard certificate of marriage. Currently, in NSW, a commemorative certificate of marriage costs $41 or, when purchased with a standard certificate of marriage ($60), the package price is $87 = a saving of $14.

If you wish to apply online yourself for a standard or commemorative certificate of marriage, here is a link to the application form on the NSW Government site.

Whether you order or your celebrant orders on your behalf a commemorative certificate of marriage, it will arrive separately by normal post (i.e. not with a standard certificate of marriage.)



This acronym stands for Ongoing Professional Development. An authorised marriage celebrant within Australia is, in 2022, required to complete two professional development activities in order to retain their registration. These activities must be lodged with the Marriage Celebrants Section of the Attorney-General’s Department by the end of each calendar year.

In 2022, OPD can only be completed online and consists of the following two topics:

  • Real Consent – Refresher
  • Knowledge of the Law



If there are any other terms that you’re not familiar with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via any of the methods listed on my Contact page. I’m always happy to provide an explanation or answer any other questions you may have.


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