There is a lot to consider when planning your wedding day. This page will help you with the key legal requirements.
To be legally married in Australia, a man and woman must:
- not be married to someone else
- not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
- be at least eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old
- understand what marriage means and freely consent to becoming husband and wife
- use specific words during the ceremony
- give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant.
The celebrant you choose will help you understand these requirements.
You don't have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. You can find marriage visa information on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website, if you hope to live in Australia after your marriage.
Important paperwork—Notice of Intended Marriage
A completed Notice of Intended Marriage form must be given to your celebrant at least one month before the wedding. You can give it to your celebrant up to eighteen months beforehand.
Your celebrant can help you complete the form. The notice may be completed and witnessed outside Australia if required.
Talk to your celebrant if there is less than one month before your wedding. A prescribed authority may approve a shorter notice time in some limited circumstances.
You will need to give your celebrant evidence of date and place of birth, identity and the end of any previous marriages for each party. Your celebrant may also ask you to complete a statutory declaration to support your evidence.
Finding a celebrant
Only an authorised celebrant can legally perform your marriage.
Authorised celebrants perform civil and religious ceremonies. There are three kinds of authorised celebrants:
- Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants who perform civil and religious ceremonies (for independent religious organisations). The fees charged by these celebrants are not fixed. Prices may vary between celebrants. They are also required to follow the Code of practice for marriage celebrants.
- Ministers of religion of a recognised denomination who perform religious ceremonies. These celebrants are regulated by state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages and their respective religious organisation.
- State officials who perform civil ceremonies.
This includes some staff of state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages and some local courts.
The Coalition of Celebrant Associations offers some tips on choosing your celebrant.
For more information, visit the Find a marriage celebrant page.
Department of Social Services: Stronger Relationships
The Australian Government has introduced the Stronger Relationships trial to run from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.
The trial provides up to 100 000 couples with $200 towards relationship education and counselling with an approved provider of their choice.
Couples aged 18 and over in a committed relationship and who are Australian citizens or permanent residents can register at Department of Social Services website.
After you are married
On the day of your wedding, you will sign three marriage certificates. Each certificate should be signed by you, your celebrant and two witnesses. Your celebrant will give you one of the certificates as a record of your marriage.
Your celebrant must register your marriage with the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state or territory it took place within fourteen days.
The certificate issued by the registry of births, deaths and marriages is required for many official purposes. You should apply for a copy of this certificate from the registry after your wedding.
Making a complaint about a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant
Speak to your celebrant early if you have concerns. If you can't resolve the issue you can find more information on the complaint about a marriage celebrant page.
Australian law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriages entered into in other countries are not recognised as legal marriages in Australia.
Some state and territory governments allow people to register their same-sex relationship. You can find out more information from state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages.