FAQ

How much notice is needed?
One month between the date of signing the NIM. Only one signature is required for the NIM to be valid.
What does 'submit' mean?
It means the NIM is submitted to me as your celebrant. The registry of births deaths and marriages is not involved until after the ceremony. Then I post both the NIM and the registration certificate to BDM to register you as legally married. Strictly speaking, however, you are legally married when your witnesses hear you make your marriage vows.
Can this notice period be reduced?
Yes but you must complete a form (from the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages) and both of you must be interviewed at BDM. A government fee is payable. The circumstances under which a ‘shortening of time’ are restrictive. Please discuss this with me for further advice.
What does 'conjugal status' mean?
It means ‘of or relating to the married state or to married persons and their relations’. There are only three: ‘never validly (i.e. legally) married’, ‘widowed’ or ‘divorced’. Never validly married’ is not the same as ‘never married’ as the latter could include a de-facto relationship or living together. If a previous marriage has been legally annulled your conjugal status is ‘never validly married’. This is not the same as a religious annullment, which doesn’t count.
How long before I can get a state marriage certificate?
As of August 2013 the Victorian registry is telling couples it’s two weeks. In the past it’s been one week. Some other registries are worse, e.g., NSW. If you need a certificate ASAP but you’re returning overseas or interstate to live ensure you submit the application form and ID to the registry as soon as possible after the ceremony. The certificate can be posted to you overseas or to an Australian address for on-forwarding. A registered post fee is payable. Visa applications: don’t delay the application until you have the state certificate. Start the process and produce the Australian certificate. You’ll be asked to produce the state certificate as soon as possible.
I'm overseas. How do I submit a NIM?
By fax, scan, or high definition MMS or smartphone picture. Bring the original with you to Australia. Telephone or Skype me to discuss the procedure for having your signature witnessed.
My partner is overseas and not arriving until the ceremony.
A NIM is valid with one signature so your partner can sign later, even if he or she is arriving less than a month before the ceremony.
What identification is needed?
If you were born in Australia, a birth certificate or extract. If born overseas a birth certificate or foreign passport. An expired foreign passport is acceptable.
What if I was born in Australia but don't have a birth certificate?
If you were born in Australia a birth certificate is at present the only acceptable form of proof of date of birth at present. You’ll have to purchase one from the registry of births, deaths, and marriages in the state in which you were born. As of mid-2013 legislation has been presented to parliament (but not passed) to allow an Australian passport to be acceptable ID. This probably won’t become law until 2014.
I was born overseas but I'm an Australian citizen with an Australian passport and don't have an overseas passport.
Until the revisions to the Marriage Act are passed (see above) and you absolutely can’t obtain a birth certificate a statutory declaration about your age is acceptable. Consult me for the wording. Citizenship certificate, driver licence and similar items aren’t acceptable. A statutory declaration will be accepted if you were born in a country that often didn’t issue birth certificates or you came to Australia as a refugee, e.g., Vietnam, China, Cambodia, East Timor. If you born in the UK, the USA, India, etc., you probably won’t get away with a statutory declaration. Consult me for further advice.
How long before the ceremony do you arrive?
15-20 minutes.
Can we have a rehearsal?
Yes. This would usually be at the venue but can also be at your home or my office. It’s not necessary for the whole bridal party and your parents to attend. Of course they are welcome to but often successful rehearsals are held which just the three of us. It can be difficult to coordinate everyone.
Do you use a PA system?
Yes, depending on the number of guests. For more than about 40 guests outdoors a PA is required. Indoors, it’s a greater number.
What areas do you cover?
Melbourne metro area, Bellarine and Mornington peninsulars, and north to Seymour. I don’t charge extra for travel.
Can I marry my cousin?
In Australia: yes. A cousin is not within the prohibited degrees of relationship in the Marriage Act, i.e., not in the line of ascent or descent.
My divorce won't be final until just before the ceremony
That’s OK as long as I sight the final certificate before the ceremony (not on the day of the ceremony). There’s no need to delay submitting a NIM because your divorce isn’t finalised.
Can I write my own vows?
Yes provided you include the minimum words specified in the Marriage Act. The Marriage Act words are, “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”; or words to that effect. ‘Words to that effect’ is not as flexible as you might hope. They too have been narrowly defined by the Attorney-General’s Department. I never use anything other than, “I, Jenny, ask everyone gathered here to witness that I take you, Peter, as my husband”. These words have been approved by the AG for use. It’s not necessary to say ‘wedded husband’, ‘lawful husband’, or ‘lawfully wedded husband’ as these are tautologies. ‘Husband’ (or ‘wife’) is a legal term meaning someone who is legally married. You can of course use the longer terms if you prefer. You can use just your first names here provided your full names have been used earlier in the ceremony. Full names are required so your witnesses are sure the correct couple are being married! See Illegal vows put marriages at risk
Who can be a witness?
Anyone who I think looks 18 or older can be a witness. You need two. They are can related, e.g., your fathers, a grandparent or adult children. They don’t need to be Australian citizens or even resident in Australia. No ID is required.
What about marriage and wills?
If you haven’t made wills you certainly should after the ceremony, particularly if you have (or are intending to buy) a house, or if you have (or are intending to have) children. Marriage usually invalidates an existing will except if the will specifically anticipates marriage to each other. You can make a will any time, and it’s a good idea to do that, but ensure it is properly drafted in anticipation of marriage and children (to provide for guardianship).