If you have attended wedding ceremonies in Australia in recent years you will no doubt have heard the same couple of paragraphs recited by the Celebrant at all of those ceremonies. No, it’s not the Celebrant “copying” someone else’s ceremony or simply writing the same words for all of their couple’s ceremonies! It’s actually the wording required in the Marriage Act 1961 that stamps the marriage as being valid and legal. A ceremony without this exact wording will not be a legally valid marriage!
What is that exact wording from the Marriage Act 1961?
The Celebrant recites;
“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.”
These paragraphs are followed by the bride and groom each reciting aloud their own personal declaration or vow to all of those witnessing their marriage ceremony;
“I call upon the persons present here to witness that I [groom’s full name] take you, [bride’s full name} to be my lawful, wedded wife”, (repeated by the other partner).
These words are intended to reflect that the marrying couple fully understand the nature of the ceremony and that they are marrying each other.
The couple’s individual declarations/vows can be added to personal vows that the couple may have chosen themselves, for example;
“I call upon the persons present here to witness that I Groovy Groom take you, Beautiful Bride to be my lawful, wedded wife. Beautiful, I promise to love, honour and cherish you for the rest of our lives.”
Changes to the Marriage Act in 2017 meant that same sex couples are now legally able to marry anywhere within Australia.
Legally there is only a limited capacity for anyone – brides, grooms or celebrants – to change the wording of these vows so it’s best to stay with that legal wording and thus be assured that the marriage is legally valid!
So next wedding you attend, listen intently for the reciting of these declarations or vows!