Changing a name after marriage

As a Celebrant I provide information to couples on how to apply for the official standard marriage certificate** from the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages – after the marriage is registered. I’m asked if this is the certificate needed to legally change a surname. Although not strictly the role of any Marriage Celebrant to be involved in the name change process it is a common question and is generally a straight forward response to most couples.
Information given on both ACT and the NSW Births Deaths and Marriages websites state;
“If you were married in Australia a formal Change of Name is not required if you wish to take your spouse’s               name. Usually personal documentation, such as your driver’s licence and passport, can be changed to your               married surname when you provide a Standard Marriage Certificate.”
So the answer to the original question is “Yes. You will probably need the official marriage certificate to change a surname in many places”.
Of course you can start using your married surname as soon as you are married, even before you have had the chance to change it legally/officially.

**This is NOT the decorative certificate presented to you on your wedding day.

Marriage Essentials

It’s not difficult to be legally married anywhere in Australia! So what are the ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS to ensure you are legally married?
The first legal paperwork – the Notification of Intention to Marry (NOIM) – must be completed and lodged with your Celebrant at least ONE MONTH prior to your wedding date. You don’t have to have set your wedding date at the time of submitting your NOIM as the signed form remains valid for 18 months, giving you that time to finalise your arrangements.
Just before you are married your Celebrant will request you to read, fill in and sign another legal form “No Legal Impediment to Marriage”. This form is you both simply stating that there is NO LEGAL REASON why you cannot marry each other (e.g you’re no married to anyone else etc).
At your marriage ceremony you, your two witnesses and your Celebrant will sign three documents at the conclusion of your ceremony. These documents are;
1. Your presentation Marriage Certificate which is given to you on your wedding day;
2. The legal Marriage certificate form(No Legal Impediment to Marriage is on the back of this form);
3. An exact copy of the legal Marriage certificate form for the Celebrant to file in their official records (this may be in the form of the Big Red Book or may just be a single piece of paper)
Your Celebrant will hold all legal forms until after your marriage and will then submit them to the Office of Births Deaths and Marriages in the state where you’re married.
There are three basic requirements for attendees at your marriage ceremony.
No 1 – YOU two, the marrying couple!
No 2 – an authorised person to conduct your marriage ceremony and complete all the legal paperwork. This may be an ordained Minister or a Registered Civil Marriage Celebrant. (76% of marriages in Australia today are conducted by Civil Celebrants!); and
No 3 – two adult witnesses present at your ceremony. They must be over the age of 18, understand English and be present for the whole ceremony. These witnesses can be anyone you choose. It’s preferable that the witnesses know you but that is not a legal requirement. If, for whatever reason, you cannot provide 2 witnesses then your Celebrant may be able to provide them for you on the day. The witnesses are required to listen to you repeat your legal declarations at your ceremony and then witness by signing the papers that it is you – the marrying couple – who have signed the legal documents. Your witnesses are NOT required to provide any ID or personal information to your Marriage Celebrant.
If you have these essential people at your marriage ceremony then you don’t need to have anyone or anything else!
There is some legal wording that you must hear and recite in your marriage ceremony – one paragraph your Celebrant will recite and a Declaration that each of you must recite for everyone present to hear. Your celebrant will ensure that these legal paragraphs are part of your ceremony.
There is nothing too difficult here! Let’s get you legally married with very little effort and no stress!

Choosing your wedding ceremony venue

Choosing Your Wedding Ceremony Venue
As a Marriage Celebrant I have experienced all types of marriage ceremonies at different venues around Canberra, South Coast and regional areas. These experiences lead me to some thoughts you may wish to consider when deciding on your wedding venue – inside or outside.

Many couples will know instantly where they want to hold their marriage ceremony – whether it’s a place they love to go to or somewhere that holds particular interest or memories for them, or simply a gorgeous place for a wedding. But if you’re not sure or can’t decide, have a think about some of these practicalities;

• Do you want your ceremony and reception at the one venue? Convenience.
• Which venue will hold the amount of people you want at your ceremony – whether it’s a large crowd or just a few people? If the venue is too big and you only have few people it will look overwhelming – too small and all your guests may be crowded in.

• How easy is the place for you AND your invited guests to access – easy to walk into, cater to less mobile guests, not going to be too wet underfoot (if it’s been raining the days before) – public toilets nearby, enough shade or shelter, some public seating, not too noisy, will it be crowded with other public on your wedding day?
• Can your wedding cars drive in close enough so the bridal party don’t have to walk so far?

• Is it as pretty as you want, can you decorate the space yourself, will the grass be mown, is there any litter that you will have to get rid of yourselves?
• Can you move around any furniture or anything else in the way of your ceremony?

• How much are you prepared to pay to hold the ceremony in that space?
• Do you have to pay for access to electrical connections for a PA or other equipment to be used during your ceremony?
• Do you need to hire anything for that space eg chairs, arch etc?

The venues where you can be married are almost limitless these days! So, just a few hints that may help you choose the perfect place that will make you – and your guests – happy for your perfect wedding ceremony.

Can We Have a Surprise Ceremony?


By a “surprise” wedding we can mean either;
• One party to the marriage wants to “surprise” their partner with a whole wedding ceremony that has been organised without their knowledge – perhaps as a ‘gift’ to their partner, or
• The marrying couple wish to keep their wedding ceremony a secret from everyone else and “surprise” their guests who have been invited to join them for some other type of celebration.

One of the requirements in the Marriage Act 1961 (the legislation under which two people can be legally married in Australia) is that “both parties know about and agree to their marriage”. They must sign legal forms before they are married thus signifying their consent to marry that partner. So a wedding “surprise” for one of the marrying partners is NOT possible under Australian law. NO, you cannot surprise your partner on the wedding day!

To surprise all your guests who think they have been invited to celebrate a;
• Birthday
• Engagement
• House warming
• A bbq
• A baby naming, etc
Or any other reason to celebrate that you can think of, then YES this is ABSOLUTELY legally allowed.

The legal preparations for the wedding ceremony must be carried out with both partners signing documents signifying their consent to their marriage. But no one else has to know about the wedding arrangements before the day and the hour. Even though you must also have 2 witnesses to sign the legal documents at the wedding ceremony these 2 people can be asked by the bride and groom at the actual wedding ceremony. Their job is to be present at and witness the legal marriage ceremony and then to witness that both parties to the marriage have signed the legal documents in front of them at the end of the ceremony.

SO GO AHEAD, organise your ‘surprise’ wedding and be sure you have such fun doing it!!!

Wet Weather Wedding….. Oh No!

You have planned the perfect outdoor venue for your wedding ceremony! But… have you also planned what to do if the weather turns terrible on your wedding day?

Here are my tips on how to plan for such an eventuality;

  1. Have a ‘Plan B’ right from the start of your planning so you know exactly what you will do and you wont be stressed trying to decide what to do 30mins before you are due at your ceremony.
  2. For your ‘Plan B’ if you have an indoor venue for your reception that would be the first and most convenient place for you to try to organise for your ceremony to be moved. Most venues are usually accommodating for this as your back up plan.
  3. Is there some shelter nearby at your outside venue – we just move the ceremony to the shelter if appropriate.
  4. Have a good number of umbrellas available to hand around to guests at the ceremony. If it is already rainy most guests will bring their own brollies.
  5. Have your groomsmen ready with large clear umbrellas to hold over you and your bridal party. This is only suitable when the weather is showery but doesn’t work well for a torrential downpour!
  6. Get dropped as close to your ceremony venue as possible – drive the car right up whenever possible to get your bridal party close to the entry. You may have to forgo some of the beautiful walk in that you had planned to do!
  7. Make the call to move your ceremony venue at least several hours before the arrival time so that all your guests can be notified in time. You then have time to relax yourself, having that settled beforehand!
  8. If you cannot make any other arrangements to get out of poor weather on the day…. you must EMBRACE the weather and determine to enjoy your celebration rain, hail or shine!!!