Legal Requirements for Marriage in Australia
As your authorised marriage celebrant, I not only provide a ceremonial service, I also provide a legal service.
To make sure your marriage is legal, your celebrant is required to ensure that you comply with the Marriage Act before solemnising your marriage. Celebrants are trained and retrained with compulsory refreshers every year as to the minute detail of the legal requirements. There is no wriggle room here. Non-compliance can mean your marriage is invalid, but it can also involve severe penalties, including jail time. So basically that means that the role of your celebrant is to tell you what you have to do, and yours is to do it!
In a civil celebrant wedding your choice of what to include in your ceremony is infinite as long as you comply with some requirements - the wording of the contractual statement each of you must make (the legal vows), the statement the celebrant has to make before you make those vows, and the presence of two adult witnesses
Regardless of what form of wedding you choose to have, though, every couple must lodge a duly signed and witnessed Notice of Intended Marriage at least a month before the marriage takes place.
The world "lodge" probably causes more confusion/misunderstand than any other word associated with weddings. What it means is that you put the Notice into the hands of the person who is going to marry you. When you do that (and it can be done by email for the purpose of starting the clock ticking) the Notice is lodged - and it then stays in the custody of your celebrant until after the wedding at which time it is sent in to Births Deaths and Marriages along with the paperwork you sign on the day to register your marriage.
Another issue that can cause a bit of angst is errors in the Notice. Not a problem, errors can be corrected after the Notice is signed, witnessed and lodged, but ONLY in the presence of your celebrant with both you and your celebrant initialing the changes - and no whiteout allowed! This ensures that the Marriage Certificate is correct and you won't have any problems down the track.
Boring, yes. Critical, absolutely, and while different celebrants can and will offer you differing personal style, ideas, and ceremonial inclusions, every celebrant is going to give you identical legal service. They have to. It is the law!
This is what the Marriage Act Requires of You
Real consent includes, but is not limited to: