What does a marriage celebrant do?

A Marriage Celebrant officiates at a marriage ceremony legally solemnising the marriage.

Discover the essential details, as well as the crucial legal process, which makes for a meaningful ceremony!

Initial contact with a Marriage Celebrant

There is usually an air of excitement surrounding a couple who have chosen to marry. Often the couple’s first reality check that marriage is a serious business comes when they contact a Marriage Celebrant who begins the conversation by gathering information gleaned from a comprehensive checklist before agreeing to meet with the couple.

As a Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrant

I begin by checking my dairy to see if I am available to officiate on the proposed date for the wedding ceremony and at the same time ascertain if that date gives one calendar month’s notice.

Giving One Calendar Months Notice

For a couple who cannot give one calendar month’s notice to marry they must go about requesting a Shortening of Time with an application for a court order. Only in exceptional circumstances will a Shortening of Time be granted by the court.

Legally Eligible to Marry

A Marriage Celebrant must also establish whether both parties to the marriage are of Legal Age. The Legal Age to marry in Australia is currently 18 years of age. If by the date of the intended marriage one party will be aged between 16-18 and will not yet have reached the Legal Age of 18 then the couple will need to make an application for Court Order for Consent to Marry before the Celebrant can solemnise the marriage.

Where a person has been married before, prior to the date of the proposed marriage ceremony the party will need to provide relevant documentary evidence as proof of death or divorce of their former husband, wife or spouse.

Once I have established the couple can legally marry, I will advise what relevant documentation each party to the marriage need provide in order to assist with completing the first official document the NOIM, the Notice of Intent to Marry.

Pre-qualifying this checklist is usually done at the time of your initial contact with me. I then arrange a date to meet face-to-face.

Personal Documentation

The personal documentation a couple needs to provide the Marriage Celebrant with to assist with completing the first legal document, the NOIM - the Notice of Intent to Marry generally includes; Proof of Birth ~ original Birth Certificate or Birth Extract; Photographic Identification ~ Passport or Driver’s Licence; And in the instance where an individual has been previously married, proof of Divorce or Death Certificate as applicable.

Given each person's personal circumstances I will also establish if a party needs to obtain additional documentation or needs to undertake any other legal process before being able to legally marry.

Meeting a Marriage Celebrant

As a Marriage Celebrant, the first meeting with a couple who have decided to marry is very special!

I arrange a face-to-face meeting with you as a couple and ask you to bring the relevant documentation to assist with lodging the NOIM.

Ideally, we meet at a mutually convenient time in a relaxed, private environment where we can openly discuss the particulars of the upcoming marriage ceremony without interruption.

In the first instance, I extend an invitation to meet at my workplace of residence. As hostess and celebrant, I offer refreshments in an interruption-free, relaxed environment.

Taking into consideration logistics, I am of course amenable to meet you in the privacy of your own home providing our discussion will be interruption free. And for those persons who are remote, I can arrange a video conferencing call to suit.

Engaging the Services of a Marriage Celebrant

At the first meeting, we initially discuss the appropriate Fee and what the Terms & Conditions are to engage my services as a Marriage Celebrant. If in agreeance you’ll proceed to sign the paperwork and agree to make the deposit by EFT.

Notice of Intent to Marry

Usually at the first face-to-face meeting, the couple will bring with them relevant personal documentation to assist with completing the first official paperwork giving Notice of Intent to Marry – the NOIM. The Marriage Celebrant will sight all relevant documents, notating both parties essential personal details where required and witnessing both signatures.

Under normal circumstances, the NOIM must give not less than one calendar month’s notice prior to the date of the marriage.

In the instance where one or both parties to the marriage cannot be present in person at the time of lodging the NOIM as an interim measure, I can accept photocopies or electronic copies of the relevant personal documents. This may be the case when the wedding venue and marriage celebrant are both interstate or one of the party is FIFO or equivalent. It is important to note however that prior to soleminising the marriage, usually no later than the time of rehearsal, it is crucial the party or parties provide all original documentation for me to sight!

And depending on a couple’s circumstances at the time of lodging the NOIM it is possible there may be other processes awaiting court order approval before the marriage can be solemnised.

Under normal circumstances, the appropriate criteria is satisfied at the time of the first meeting and the NOIM is officially lodged.

At the same time when completing the NOIM I will complete a request form for the purpose of arranging one official Certificate of Marriage which will be sent to the couple once their marriage is officially registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Discovering your Hopes & Expectations for the Ceremony!

We are now ready to discuss the all-important ceremony. Starting with the chosen venue ~ from riverside to mountain, garden or golf club, city to coast, bush or beach ~ I live in proximity to an abundant number of wedding venues offering fabulous settings and am not limited to my postcode - we can discuss appropriate travel costs if needs be.

It is important we discuss the logistics of your chosen venue; inclusive of access, general environment, expected and unexpected weather events possible on the day and whether the venue has influenced a theme for the ceremony; garden party, black tie etc.

In consideration of attending guests, I will also ascertain if there need be any special requirements in place for such things as wheelchair access, seeing-eye dogs, nurse-in-attendance.

We then address the role of all attendees in the ceremony. Most popular attendees include; the matron of honour, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, father of the bride, ring bearer and two witnesses. Other attendees can include; flower girls, page boys, parents, grandparents, children, friends and pets!

To ensure a flawless ceremony it is important I have an understanding of who the service providers are such as Wedding Planner, Event Co-ordinator, Chauffeur, Photographer, Videographer – with the intention to remit a Ceremony Run Sheet to all relevant parties giving peace of mind to know who is doing what, when and why!

Length of Service

Whilst every ceremony I deliver is Simply Beautiful the length of service can differ from an on-point service between 15-20 minutes to a more detailed service between 30-40 minutes.

For those couples choosing readings, poems and rituals which may also involve participation by family & friends it may be feasible to propose a longer service than normal.

No matter the length of service the ceremony I create is designed to capture who you are as a couple; and to do justice to the solemn celebration of your love with heartfelt promises, pledges and vows.

Introducing the Order of Service for the Ceremony

Now is the time I explain in detail what is included in an Order of Service and give an explanation for the obligatory essentials Monitum and Mandatory Vows and discuss with you the optional inclusions such as Giving Away, Ring Exchange, Readings and Rituals.

The choices you make to include in the service will contribute to the creation of a personalised ceremony designed to reflect your wishes, ensuring a memorable occasion for you and your guests.

We will also discuss the “how” of the ceremony; ~ How will you arrive ~ How will you exchange your rings ~ There are many options open for discussion and there is no expectation from me that you will have all the answers at the time of the first meeting!

The Asking

The Asking is often a mix of solemnity and delightfully refreshing humour. With equal measures of sincerity and wit the couple will make solemn heartfelt Promises and Pledges to each other with replies of “I Do” and “I Will” and “I Do”.

“Do you … promise to always replace the toilet roll instead of suggesting you’ll one day make Christmas “crackers” from the empty rolls left rolling around on the bathroom floor?

At the first meeting I often get enough draft material from you to start writing the promises and pledges for the ceremony. In addition the Information Kit can include thought-provoking examples!

Personal Vows

The Information Kit will include a library of wonderfully expressive Personal Vows.

However Personal Vows are personal so input is essential to create a ceremony with meaning. You may find appealing certain expressions from the many phrases and words from which I can then write your personal vows; Or you may individualise existing vows by simply changing one or two words to best suit you; Or you may feel inspired to write your own personal vows from scratch!

My role is to give you appropriate inspiration and to not leave either of you stuck for words!

Information Kit

At conclusion of our meeting I will have discovered the groundwork from which I can then write a ceremony to express your wishes. From this point on, e-mail is our friend and in follow-up I shall e-mail an Information Kit tailored with resources appropriate to the inclusions in the service; examples of Rituals, Readings, Music, Personal Vows, Promises and Pledges as selected.

First Draft

At no time is a couple expected to write their own ceremony! In a timely fashion post-meeting you will receive a first draft of the ceremony I have written for you with the opportunity to review and edit some elements ~ editing input will provide me with constructive direction because it is essential you feel comfortable with the content of the ceremony.

The Rehearsal

The ideal time for a Rehearsal is approximately 72 Hours to Go before the wedding day! Even the simplest wedding ceremony benefits from a Rehearsal giving peace of mind on the day.

And if a party or parties was not there in person at the time of lodging the NOIM – living interstate to the location of the wedding or FIFO – the Rehearsal is often the last opportunity for me to sight crucial original personal documents.

As your Marriage Celebrant I will encourage a rehearsal take place usually 2-3 days before the actual wedding day; ideally held at the venue and if possible at the same time as the ceremony.

The Rehearsal provides the perfect opportunity for a practice run for the wedding party and to iron-out any unexpected glitches the venue setting may impose.

The Rehearsal discovers what you’ll “do” and “why” but is not a practice-run for what you’ll say. Where do we stand? Who holds the flowers? When do we say our vows? How do we exchange rings?

Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marry

The Rehearsal is also the opportune time for the parties to the marriage to sign the important Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marry without which I cannot solemnise your marriage!

Ideally the No Legal Impediment to Marry is signed no more than 72 hours before the actual wedding day which times perfectly with having a Rehearsal. This timing may be crucial to a party awaiting finalisation of divorce through the courts.

If there is a valid reason for not having a Rehearsal I will arrange to meet with you prior to the wedding day as both parties must sign the No Legal Impediment to Marry before the marriage ceremony takes place!

In Preparation for the Day of the Wedding

As a Marriage Celebrant before I can officiate and solemnise a marriage I must first ensure all legal paperwork is properly in order and the correct number of Marriage Certificates is prepared for The Signing. The Signing is the point in the Marriage Ceremony where the couple, their two witnesses and the Marriage Celebrant adjourn to sign the Marriage Registry, one official Certificate of Marriage and a Form 15 Certificate of Marriage.

Most marriage ceremonies are personalised in some way just as the check-list for the day of your ceremony will be customised to help ensure I am absolutely present and focussed on officiating at your marriage ceremony to the very best that I can.

As appropriate to the day I will bring any additional agreed-to equipment such as "Clive" the PA System, signing table and chairs and the playlist if you’ve not engaged a string quartet! And I will, of course, have in my possession the all-important paperwork Marriage Certificates, Marriage Registry and pens for signing!

The Certificates of Marriage

The Certificates of Marriage comprise; one official Certificate of Marriage for the purpose of registering the marriage with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages; the Marriage Registry Marriage Certificate which serves as a record of the marriage entrusted for safekeeping by the Registered Marriage Celebrant; and the Form 15 Marriage Certificate which is given to the couple as a commemorative keepsake of their wedding.

At conclusion of the marriage ceremony, I will entrust the pretty commemorative Form 15 Certificate of Marriage to a person of your choosing for safe keeping whilst you are busy being congratulated, celebrating and enjoying the wedding reception! The nominated person entrusted to give you the certificate is likely to give you the certificate at conclusion of the reception or next day.

Registering the Marriage

In a timely fashion after the marriage has been solemnised, I must lodge the official paperwork with the Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages in the relevant State or Territory in which the marriage took place.

At a minimum, the official paperwork currently includes; NOIM, No Legal Impediment to Marry and the official Marriage Certificate. Depending on the personal circumstances of the couple there may be additional paperwork to include.

At the same time as registering the official paperwork, it is common practice for the Celebrant to include the request form so that one official Marriage Certificate will be sent to the couple once the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages have registered the marriage. The official marriage certificate is a legal document and, for example, is required for the purpose of applying for a change of name as necessary.

Keepsake

Normally timed for the return from your honeymoon, I will post a hardcopy of the Ceremony as a keepsake to include in your wedding album or similar.

~ Wishing you both Happily~Ever~After ~