Your marriage certificate and its purpose
It can be confusing to understand the purpose of each marriage certificate. Basically, there are 5 in total. It’s a legal requirement that you, your partner, your 2 witnesses and your celebrant each sign 3 certificates on your wedding day (15 signatures in all.) There are also 2 other certificates which you can purchase if you wish. Here’s a quick & easy rundown on each:
Official Certificate of Marriage (Form 16)
This is the 1st of 3 certificates your celebrant will provide for you to sign on your wedding day. It’s printed on a sheet of paper which has the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage on the reverse. After your marriage, your celebrant has 1 of 2 options:
a) they will either scan this certificate and the Declaration and send them (along with your Notice of Intended Marriage and an online form) to Births Deaths & Marriages in the State your marriage occurred so that it can be registered immediately; or
b) they will mail this double-sided form to Births Deaths & Marriages (along with your Notice of Intended Marriage) and your marriage will subsequently be registered.
It is a legal requirement that this paperwork is sent to Births Deaths & Marriages within 14 days of your wedding taking place.
Certificate of Marriage (Form 14)
This is the 2nd of 3 certificates you’ll sign on the day. It looks exactly the same as your Official Certificate of Marriage and is either printed on a sheet of paper or may be contained within a red hard cover Marriage Register. Celebrants have (in the past) been able to purchase this from Canprint (the Government printer.) Note: the red folder is no longer available for purchase so will be phased out over time.
Couple’s Certificate of Marriage (Form 15)
This is the 3rd of 3 certificates you’ll sign on the day. It’s a decorative certificate, printed on card, and is left with you by the celebrant before they leave you on your wedding day. Celebrants (only) can purchase these certificates from Canprint. Each certificate is numbered and so cannot be replaced if lost or damaged. As your marriage has not yet been registered when you receive this certificate, you are unable to use it as proof that you are legally married.
Purchasing 1 or both of the remaining 2 certificates is optional. These are the:
Standard Certificate of Marriage
This certificate can be purchased from Births Deaths & Marriages after your marriage has been registered. It is an important document so should be stored securely. If you plan to change your name after marriage, you WILL need to purchase one of these in order to prove that your marriage has been registered. Your celebrant can order this certificate on your behalf if you wish or you can order it yourself, at any time, online. Currently, in NSW, it costs $60 which includes postage via registered mail.
Commemorative Certificate of Marriage
In NSW, there is a choice of 16 different commemorative certificate designs. Currently, it costs $41 to purchase one of these certificates or $87 when purchased as a pack at the same time you or your Celebrant order a standard Certificate of Marriage. This means a saving of $14.
Here’s a link to take you to further information on the certificates available from Births Deaths & Marriages NSW.
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Note: If your celebrant registers your marriage online in NSW via LifeLink, they will be able to access your record for a period of 8 weeks after your marriage. After this time, you will only have the option of ordering certificates yourself.
079 ~ © Lindy Cooke Celebrant