Legal Requirements for a Marriage

Gayle Marcussen
Authorised Marriage Celebrant
0438 28 01 73

Lodgement of Notice of Intention to Marry

This form must be lodged with the celebrant no later than one month and one day prior to the proposed date of your wedding.

During this process the celebrant must sight, but not necessarily when the form is lodged.

If born in Australia:

  • a full, legal copy of your birth certificate
  • your driver’s license
  • If you are divorced, your divorce certificate

If born overseas:

  • your birth certificate if you have it
  • your Driver’s License
  • your passport
  • your Certificate of Citizenship (if you are a naturalised Australian)
  • your Divorce Certificate if you have previously been married

Celebrant Authority (Monitum)

This is a legal requirement and an essential part of a marriage ceremony. An authorised Celebrant must establish his or her authority (as prescribed in the Marriage Act 1961) and caution the bride and groom as to the solemn and binding nature of marriage:

The Celebrant says to the couple, in the presence of the witnesses:-

"I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriage 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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life."

Please note: The above words cannot be changed and are a legal requirement, however the sentences may be separated and interwoven through the introduction and elsewhere, but must be said prior to the vows being made otherwise the ceremony is not legal.

The Asking

This part of the ceremony is traditional, not a legal requirement. This should not be confused with the marriage vows which come next. The bride customarily joins hands with her groom (after handing her bouquet to the bridesmaid.)

The wording for this part of the Ceremony is a matter of choice. The basic format upon which you can build is as follows:


The Vows are a legal requirement and to be legal must contain the following proscribed points

According to the Marriage Act of 1961 the vows must contain the following:

  • they must have a promise of intent eg. (I “take” you…; I “promise” to…) and
  • must include the word husband, wife or spouse at least once (by each party). i.e. the word ‘husband’ can be used twice (‘I take you for my husband’ and ‘I promise to be your husband’); or “I take you to be my husband’ and “I take you to be my wife’. The word spouse may be used instead of husband or wife.
  • must use a minimum of two of each person’s names – i.e. “do you Cathy Helen (or Cathy Jones) take Noel Alfred (or Noel Lewis) or full names - Cathy Deborah Jones take Noel Alfred Lewis etc.

The Attorney General has now advised that the following wording must be used as the legal vow. (You may write your own personal vow to follow on after the legal one). This is usually repeated after the Celebrant.

*I call upon those persons here present to witness that I ……………………take you………………………to be my lawful wedded wife/husband.

Your personal vow follows the above legal vow and can be as long as you like. It is not necessary for the bride and groom to say the same words – their vows can be worded differently. You will find a section on vows to further on in the Manual.

**Two witnesses must actually hear you making the legal vow, and witness your signature on the three legal documents that are signed at the end of the ceremony.

Copy of Ceremony

It is a legal requirement that you be given a copy of your ceremony.

Pre-Marriage Relationship Counselling

It is a legal requirement that you be given information relating to this as well as the ‘Happily Ever After’ brochure from the Attorney General’s Department.

Form 14 Declarations (Statutory Declarations)

You must complete these Statutory Declarations prior to your marriage, otherwise your marriage is not a legal ceremony.

These forms state that:

  • you are over eighteen,
  • that if you had been married you are now legally divorced,
  • that there is no legal impediment to your marriage.

Signing of Legal Documents After Marriage Ceremony

After the ceremony has been completed there are three documents to sign.

The first legal requirement relating to the signing of these documents is:

  • You and your witnesses must be legally sober to sign these documents.
  • Your witnesses must be eighteen or over and able to understand what is being said.

The documents to be signed are:

  • The Register (this is the Celebrant’s record of your marriage)
  • The A4 sized Certificate of Marriage (your record of your marriage)
  • A3 Certificate of Marriage on the back of Form 14 Statutory Declarations

(This is the document which, together with the Notification of Intention to Marry, is lodged by the celebrant with the Registrar of Births Deaths & Marriages to register your marriage).


If the Bride wishes to change her name she will require a legal copy from Births, Deaths & Marriages of the Form 14 Certificate of Marriage that registers your marriage.

The cost at the moment is $35.00. If you would like me to include this form with your Marriage Documents when I send them to BDM to register your marriage please remember to give me the form together with your $35.00 fee or cheque made out to BDM.