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The two important factors are that I have to ensure that I am conducting the ceremony legally and, secondly, that we are organising a ceremony that suits you. I am most happy to give you advice, and probably so are many other people, but the final decision as to how any ceremony is to run is yours. I have been a Celebrant since 31 January 1983, still enjoy conducting ceremonies and always try to give that impression even at the end of a frantic summer weekend!

Legal Requirements.

I am required by law under the Marriage Act, and as recently instructed by the Attorney-General’s Department:

  1. to inform everyone that I am an authorised celebrant (using prescribed words – see below)
  2. to inform you of the law regarding marriage (using prescribed words – see below) 
  3. to ask you, using your full names, if you are moving into your marriage freely (using words as suggested below)
  4. to advise you that you may add your own vows or promises but that they must include certain words (see below)
  5. We five (bride, groom, 2 witnesses, celebrant) need to sign the three certificates. 
  6. As of 12 June 2024: Separate Meetings: The Marriage Act requires an authorised celebrant to meet separately and in person with each party to the marriage before the marriage is solemnised. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that each party is freely and voluntarily consenting to the marriage. A separate meeting needs to occur in the absence of the other party to the marriage and in a culturally safe environment – but this does not mean you need to meet alone with a party. Other persons can attend with the party’s permission. The timing of the separate meetings is at the discretion of the celebrant and the couple. It can occur at any time up to and including the day of the marriage, providing it occurs before the marriage is solemnised.”

What paper work do you need?

1. Notice of Intended Marriage

You may obtain a copy of the Notice of Intended Marriage (formerly Form 13) from me, a Registry Office, or from the official website. The Federal Attorney-General’s website for the Notice of Intended Marriage is .pdf or .doc file: Notice of Intended Marriage Notice of Intended Marriage [PDF 883.06 KB] Notice of Intended Marriage Notice of Intended Marriage [DOCX 66.49 KB] . The N.I.M. form must be ‘lodged’ with whomever is going to conduct your ceremony at least one calendar month prior to the proposed date. For example, if you are getting married on August 9, then I must receive the signed form on July 9. It is a 4 page form, 2 pages for you to read, and 2 pages for you and me to fill in and sign. Page 2 contains very important information. The Happily Ever After brochure is available below:\nDocument outlining the obligations and consequences of marriage and stating the availability of marriage education and counselling (formerly Form 14A) [PDF 164KB]\nDocument outlining the obligations and consequences of marriage and stating the availability of marriage education and counselling (formerly Form 14A) [DOC 754KB]

2. Regarding date and place of birth

If you were born in Australia you produce an ORIGINAL (not certified) official certificate, or an official extract of an entry in an official register, showing the date and place of birth. A statutory declaration may be used in the rare instance of a birth certificate being unavailable. Passports may also be used, but check that the details are correct according to what is on your birth certificate, and that you have the correct names of your parents!    


If you were born overseas, you should produce your ORIGINAL birth certificate, or you may produce a passport issued by a government of an overseas country, showing the date and place of birth. A statutory declaration is also a possibility, but it is unlikely that this provision will have to be used. Please ask your celebrant about this situation.To apply for a birth certificate in South Australia visit the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs

3. Identification

Regarding evidence of identity: photo evidence is required – this may be a Drivers License, Passport, Prof of Age Card, etc. – but separate from what was provided for proof of date and place of birth.

4. Previous Marriage

If you have been previously married you will have to produce evidence of your divorce or death of your spouse.\n\nFor divorces in Australia prior to 2005 (decree nisi and decree absolute) a decree absolute is required, and for divorces in Australia from 2005-2012(simplified Certificate of Divorce) the date divorce takes effect is the key date. Recent divorces are issues as Divorce Orders and as a .pdf file and this is acceptable as a source documents because it is the original.\nFor divorces in overseas countries what is required is divorce documentation from the country in which the divorce took place.\nAcceptable evidence of the death of a spouse is the official death certificate or other official documents like a coroner or police report.\nAs your celebrant I will talk through the ramifications, and variations, of these basic rules.

I will

  • have the three certificates ready for signing. These are the Registry Office copy, my copy, and yours.
  • be at the location at least 20 minutes before the ceremony, I suggest that the Groom doesn’t need to arrive much before that time either. There is only so much pre-marriage commentary that grooms can stand from your guests!
  • make a check on the table and chairs for position and stability. You don\’t need an odd sign in the background of all your photographs!
  • check with the groom on the details for the ceremony, in case any last minutes changes need to be made. I will cope with any changes, but it is also a way of filling in that nervous waiting time for the groom.
  • tell you what to do, where to go. That is, of course, after you have told me what it is that you want. In other words, I will make sure that you are legally married, and that it is done the way you want it. You have to make sure that it is the Ceremony you want, in the style you would like.
  • bring an excellent sound system with hand-held microphone and capability of playing CDs, etc. – no charge.

Notes to help conduct your ceremony.

\n\nThese are only notes, but they may help you when deciding how you would like your ceremony to be conducted. These notes are not prescriptive, but please ensure that… you enjoy your Marriage Ceremony, and that you have it the way that you would like!

There are two witnesses who must, as the law notes, ‘appear to be over the age of 18 years of age’. These witnesses may be men or women, children or parents. There is a table available for the signing, and two chairs, so that each of you may sit while signing. There is probably no need to have flowers on the table – particularly if it is small. The flowers tend to get knocked over, sat on, or moved when we start to sign. We also need to be able to place the three certificates on the table and have room for the bride’s flowers.

You have checked on the local rules about throwing confetti or rice. Flowers or money seem to be no problem! Regardless of what time you have told your guests, you are sure what time it is that you wish to start the Ceremony. The bride is arranging to arrive on time, or a couple of minutes late. I may have another wedding scheduled following yours, and I don\’t intend to arrive late for that wedding! And anyway, it is thoughtless on the groom for the Ceremony to be delayed unnecessarily.

You might like to think about

  • Where and how would you like to stand for the occasion? I suggest that you may wish to consider an arrangement whereby your guests are able to see and hear you. Perhaps a horseshoe arrangement might be appropriate – e.g. Celebrant, Groom\’s Attendants, Groom, Bride, Parent(s) of Bride, Bride\’s Attendants.
  • Where would be the most suitable place for the rings for the ceremony? Perhaps consider having the rings on the nearby signing table, from where the Groom\’s and Bride’s Attendants may collect them.
  • Will you need a few chairs for aged guests, parents, or those who are pregnant or on crutches?
  • Are you arriving together, separately, going to be there as your guests arrive, or something else?
  • If your children are at the Ceremony, how would you like them involved? Perhaps they could read, say something at the ‘giving away’ time, or collect the rings?
  • What do you want from your photographer, in regard to the Ceremony?