Role of a celebrant
Authorised Marriage Celebrants can solemnise marriages in Australia under Australian Law and in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961. Celebrants must comply with a code of conduct and meet the legal obligations of the role. Celebrants are to advise couples of the legal obligations and requirements of marriage, assist in the completion of documents and solemnise the marriage in accordance with Australian Law.
At the ceremony, the authorised marriage celebrant must:
consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant
take a public role in the ceremony
identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage
be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage, according to law
say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before the marriage is solemnised
be in close proximity when the vows required by subsection 45(2) are exchanged. It is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant must see and hear the vows being exchanged
be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for it elsewhere in the ceremony
be part of the ceremonial group or in close proximity to it; and
sign the papers as required by the Act.
Requirements for Marriage
The definition of marriage according to Australian Law is “is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
Other requirements for Marriage under Australian Law include:
Section 42 of the Marriage Act 1961 states that a marriage must not be solemnised unless a notice in writing of the intended marriage, in the prescribed form, is given to the authorised celebrant solemnising this marriage. The Notice of Intended Marriage must be given to the celebrant no more than 18 months, and no less than one calendar month, before the marriage is to be solemnised. Parties can apply for a shortening of time if unable to meet the notice period.
Under Section 42 of the Marriage Act, certain documents must be produced to the celebrant before the marriage can be solemnised. This includes evidence of the date and place of birth of each party (birth certificate or passport) and if a party has been previously married, evidence of how that marriage ended (divorce absolute, spouse’s death certificate.)
If a party to an intended marriage has not turned 18 (unless the party has previously been married), he or she must obtain an order from the court under Section 12 of the Act authorising them to marry. Under no circumstances can two people under 18 years marry each other.
Both parties must consent to marry each other. It is the responsibility of the celebrant to inform couples of the legal obligations of marriage.
Couples are required to make a legal declaration that there is no impediment as to why they should not marriage each other. Factors include that they are both of marriageable age, are not in a prohibited relationship (eg full blood relatives), are not married to someone else, or any other legal impediment to the marriage.
Marriage Celebrant’s Obligations
Under Section 42 (5A) of the Marriage Act, it states that Form 14a (Happily Ever – Before and After pamphlet) must be given to parties who are intending to marry. This form explains the legal obligations of marriage, the importance of marriage and relationship education services and other important information for couples intending to marry. As a celebrant we are obligated to keep an up to date knowledge of relationship education services. Relationships Australia and Anglicare both offer courses in a range of formats to couples at different stages of their relationships.
Making a complaint
If you have a concern about the service you have received from a marriage celebrant in relation to your wedding you may make a complaint. If you have any concerns you should discuss them with the celebrant first but if you are not able to do this, or believe your complaint requires further consideration, there is a special procedure set out in the Marriage Regulations to enable complaints concerning the performance of marriage celebrants to be responded to.
The complaint must be in writing and made to:
The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants
Robert Garran Offices
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON, ACT 2600
It must be made within three months of the matter complained of. You may seek an extension of time to make a complaint from the Registrar and the Registrar may grant an extension if he or she considers it is justified. This request must be in writing.
The complaint must contain the following details:
The complaint must state your full name and contact details (anonymous complaints cannot be accepted),
The name of the marriage celebrant to whom the complaint relates,
The full details of the complaint, and
Whether or not it is or has been the subject of other proceedings (such as a report to the police).
If you suffer from a disability and require assistance in preparing the complaint the Marriage Celebrants Section may be able to provide this.
You must provide to the Registrar a written statement consenting to the marriage celebrant being notified of the complaint and being given a copy of any information or material provided by you to the Registrar in support of the complaint.
If the Registrar does not receive such a statement the complaint cannot proceed and will be terminated.
For more information on the procedure for making complaint visit http://www.ag.gov.au
Any information or personal details provided to me as your celebrant will be treated with the strictest of confidence. All information collected is for the purpose of completing necessary legal paperwork and planning your marriage ceremony. No personal details will be released to any third party unless required by law. All documents are stored in a locked filing cabinet or password protected computer files. Any documents not required for legal purposes will be shredded and disposed of safely once the marriage has been solemnised.
All marriages I solemnise must comply with Australian Copyright Laws. This requires acknowledgement of authors of readings used in the ceremony and songwriters or composers of pieces of music. If you have any queries relating to Copyright please discuss with me or visit http://www.copyright.org.au for more information.
Music can be used within a marriage ceremony (and other ceremonies such as funerals, baptism or service of worship) without the usual public performance licences. This exemption acknowledges the traditional role of music in ceremonial services. However, if music is to be played before the ceremony or at the wedding reception, a licence from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) must be obtained. In most cases it is the responsibility of the owner of the venue/premises to ensure these licences are in place. It is the responsibility of the couple to check this and purchase a licence if necessary. More information about general licences can be found at http://www.ppca.com.au/tariffsmain.htm
Statement of fees
Please contact me for a Statement of Fees which explains what this fee includes, any additional fees that may apply, methods of payment and the refund policy.
Planning your ceremony
One of the wonderful things about a civil ceremony is that it allows couples to be creative and really make it their own. From simple short ceremonies or personalised services that involve your guests – we can make your marriage memorable.
The legal wording (monitum) below must be stated by me as an authorised celebrant.
“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.”
And that the couple marrying must state the following declaration vows:
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (Bride/Groom’s full name), take you, (Bride/Groom’s full name), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”.
The rest of the ceremony is up to your imagination. Please find enclosed a collection of ideas for ceremony wording, vows, readings and rituals.
Use of interpreters
A marriage celebrant is required to ensure parties understand the obligations of marriage. In some cases an interpreter may be required to assist in this vital communication. If an interpreter is required, they must produce evidence that they are a certified interpreter and be prepared to sign a statutory declaration to ensure the information they are communicating is accurate and that the privacy of the parties in protected. The cost of the interpreter is the responsibility of the couple intending to marry.
Marriage is a celebration of life and a journey of two people. Many like to incorporate elements of religion, cultural traditions and other symbolic and spiritual rituals into their ceremony. As a celebrant, I am committed to working with you to create a ceremony that is meaningful and memorable to you. Any ceremony I officiate must meet all the legal requirements, be safe, respect culture and tradition and enhance the dignity of the occasion.
A civil ceremony can be personalised to reflect who you are as people. There are many ways involve your family and friends in the ceremony and create special symbolic rituals. Please contact me if you have any questions or ideas you wish to discuss.
Feedback and evaluation
As part of my commitment to the Code of Conduct for Marriage Celebrants and to providing outstanding service to couples, I request a feedback and evaluation form be completed by my clients. I will send you this survey after the marriage has been solemnised and hope that you will assist in my professional development as a celebrant by completing it. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.