So you’re planning on getting married in Perth? Congratulations, its a lovely city to get married in!
The Legal Process for Getting Married
The basic legal process for getting married in Western Australia is really quite simple…
Choose a celebrant
The first step is to decide who will officiate – the Registry Office, an authorised religious celebrant, or a registered civil marriage celebrant such as myself. You have lots of choices, so its worth shopping around to find a celebrant who feels like a good fit with your personal style and values system.
When you use the services of a civil celebrant in Australia, you are free to hold your wedding ceremony wherever you please by mutual agreement with your celebrant – in a public park, at a private home or garden, in a commercial reception venue, in a chapel, on the beach, in a bushland setting, or on the banks of the beautiful Swan River. Some adventurous souls even choose to get married on a boat or in an aeroplane.
Many civil celebrants, including myself, accept bookings up to 18 months ahead, so it is usually wise to make a firm booking early in your planning process. That said, there is always a possibility that I may be free at relatively short notice, so please don’t hesitate to ask.
Lodge a notice of intended marriage
Once you have chosen your celebrant, you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage.
On this form, you will both provide your full legal names (as shown on your birth certificate or passport), current address, occupation, date and place of birth, and details of your parent’s names and countries of birth. If you have been married previously you will need to provide some details about your previous marriages and how they ended. You will need to sign this form in front of an official witness, and lodge it with your chosen celebrant. (As your celebrant I can help you with the process of filling in the form. ) You will also need to show the celebrant your legal documents (see below).
Which documents does the celebrant have to see?
Original copies of:
- birth certificates for both parties* (If you you do not have an original copy of your birth certificate, a current passport can be accepted in its place)
- some form of photo id eg. passport or drivers license
- if you have been married previously, evidence of how the last marriage ended (eg a divorce certificate or a death certificate). Annulment by a church is not a legal divorce.
- if your documents are written in a language other than English, you will need to get an official translation
You have some time between the lodging of the Notice of Intended Marriage and your wedding to provide these documents. Please check that you can find your documents, or you may need to apply to get fresh copies issued to you.
*For those born in Australia, you can apply to have a fresh copy of your birth certificate issued by the Registry Office in the state or territory of your birth.
Sign a legal declaration
Prior to your wedding ceremony, you will be asked to sign a legal declaration stating that you believe there are no legal impediments to your marriage. Under Australian law you may not get married in any of the follow circumstances:
- you are under 18 years of age (except with special permission) OR
- you are already married OR
- you and your proposed spouse are close relatives by birth or legal adoption – siblings, parent/child, grandparent/grandchild OR
- due to mental impairment you are not able to give informed consent
Both parties to the marriage must freely and knowingly give their aware and informed consent to the marriage.
The signing of the declaration often happens when you meet with your celebrant for a rehearsal or walkthrough a week or two before the marriage ceremony.
Solemnisation of Marriage
On the day of your wedding, your celebrant will remind you of the legal significance of the step you are taking, and you will need to declare your intention to marry before two adult witnesses (18 years or older) and your chosen celebrant, using a specific form of words set out in the Marriage Act. You and your witnesses will then sign the marriage certificates.
Your celebrant will present you with an official marriage certificate.
(Please note that this document is not universally accepted as legal proof of your change of marital status / change of name, so you may also need to apply to the Western Australian Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for an official copy of their record.)
Your celebrant will also lodge a certificate with the local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. An extract of this record can be obtained on application from the Registry Office.
If you wish to have your marriage recognised by an overseas government, you would be well advised to contact the relevant consulate or overseas government agency to determine what their requirements are. In some cases you may need to obtain an Apostille stamp or Authentication.
Note: The Department of Immigration and the Australian Passport Office may require you to supply an extract from the Registry Office in connection with an immigration or passport application.
Planning Your Wedding Ceremony
What kind of ceremony can I have?
The legal requirements for your wedding ceremony are quite simple – there are some words that must be spoken by the celebrant, as well as some words that must be spoken by the marrying couple. The rest of the ceremony – inspirational readings, symbolic rituals, music – is entirely negotiable.
Feel free to browse this list of suggested wedding rituals and customs that can help make your special day unique and meaningful. The list is certainly not exhaustive, and I am always open to adding other elements to your ceremony to reflect your unique cultural heritage or spiritual orientation.
The best way to find out what I can offer is to talk to me. I would be delighted to explore possibilities with you. If we seem like a good fit, I would be delighted to work with you to co-create a beautiful personalised wedding ceremony to suit your needs and desires.
If you would like to co-create a ceremony that is personal and memorable, an authentic expression of who you are..
please get in contact!
Youmay also want to read about my personal values and philosophy as a marriage celebrant.
I have also provided some sample outlines of wedding ceremonies that I have designed for clients in the past. You are welcome to have a look through these if you wish:
- Beach wedding with ribbons and shells
- Blending families, blending traditions
- Sword and broomstick wedding
But I don’t want a ceremony, I just want to be legally married
If you don’t want a full marriage ceremony, we will follow the simple steps that are legally required. See above. You will still need to allow one full calendar month to elapse between lodging the Notice and the legal solemnisation of the marriage. On the appointed day, I will meet with you and your two witnesses to hear your declarations and sign the certificates.
Another option is to enquire about what is involved with getting married at the official WA Registry Office, which is located on St George’s Terrace, in the central business district of Perth.
Other useful info
I want to take my partner’s surname – how does that happen?
In Australia either party to the marriage may choose to adopt the other’s surname, in order to have a shared family surname. There is no requirement that you do so. This decision does not need to be made until after the wedding, as you will sign all the legal documents including the marriage certificates using your full legal name prior to marriage.
In most cases you will need to get a copy of the certificate issued by the local Register of Births, Deaths & Marriages as evidence to support your change of name following marriage. Here is a link to the Australian Passports Office information about updating the name on your passport following marriage.
How much can I expect to pay?
Civil celebrants in Australia are independant small business people who set their own fees, so there is no standard or set fee for a wedding ceremony.
When you negotiate a price with your celebrant, you should be sure to check what is included in the service they provide. For example: what choices will you have about wording and format of the ceremony, whether the ceremony script will be personally prepared to fit your unique story and circumstances, what kinds of symbolic & cultural rituals are on offer, how many meetings you can expect to have with the celebrant, whether the celebrant will meet with you at your chosen venue to conduct a rehearsal 1-2 weeks prior to the ceremony, etc.
Marriage in Australia is regulated by the Marriage Act which is administered by the Attourney General’s Department.
For more information, visit: http://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/GettingmarriedinAustralia.aspx