Hint & Tips
Before you get caught up in the excitement of planning your wedding, Australia has strict rules regarding the formalities of marriage that should not be overlooked. If you are having a civil ceremony, your celebrant should be able to ensure you conform to the legal requirements of holding your wedding in Australia, but it is still useful to know a bit about them.
1. Selecting your wedding celebrant
Marriage celebrants have been able to perform civil weddings in Australia since 1961 when the Marriage Act was passed. When you find a celebrant that you are comfortable with, you need to make sure that they are legally able to officiate at a wedding in Australia by checking the Register of Marriage Celebrants. Wedding celebrant fees in Australia are not fixed so make sure you get a quote from your celebrant before asking them to hold the date, and get written confirmation of what is included in their quote.
2. Providing Notice of Intended Marriage
In order to legalise your wedding in Australia you must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage. Your completed form should be with your celebrant no less than one month and one day before your wedding day. Australia passed an act in 1963 allowing this time period to be shortened in special circumstances such as for medical reasons, or religious commitments, but for most couples the rule still applies. You can lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage up to eighteen months before the wedding.
3. Signing the wedding certificate
To legalise a wedding in Australia, your celebrant must provide three copies of the marriage certificate for you and your witnesses to sign. You will receive one copy to provide evidence of your marriage, your celebrant will keep one for their records, and one will be forwarded to the registry of births, marriages and deaths.
4. Same sex weddings
In Australia a wedding between a same sex couple can not be recognised as a legal marriage. If two people of the same gender wish to have a wedding in Australia, they can take part in a commitment ceremony as long as it doesn’t purport to be a legal marriage.
5. A wedding between relatives
The law in Australia states that a wedding between ancestors, descendants, or siblings is not legal. This is true for full blood relatives, half blood relatives, and adopted relatives, even when the adoption has been annulled. This law means that brothers and sisters, parents, children, and grandparents can not marry each other, but it does permit marriages between aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
6. Holding a wedding outside Australia
If you are planning a destination wedding outside Australia, you should contact the diplomatic mission or embassy of the country in which you wish to marry. To legalise your wedding the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade may have to supply you with Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage.
Australia wedding customs
Many of the traditional wedding customs in Australia have their origins in European countries. Here are a few typical Australia wedding traditions along with a possible explanation of their beginnings:
Australia wedding tradition 1 – The exchange of rings
The tradition for diamond engagement rings apparently dates back to medieval Italy, where it was believed that diamonds were created by the flames of love. Like many other countries wedding rings in Australia tend to be perfect circles to symbolize never ending love. In Australia the wedding ring is usually worn on the third finger of the left hand because the Ancient Greeks and Romans believed the vein in that finger ran directly to the heart.
Australia wedding tradition 2 – White bridal gown
Brides haven’t always worn white. Although most brides in Australia now choose white for their wedding outfit to symbol purity, this custom was started by Queen Victoria in England when she got married in white to signify her status. Centuries ago, the bride and her bridesmaids would have been dressed identically to confuse evil spirits as well as rival suitors!
Australia wedding tradition 3 – Throwing the garter
This is another tradition that originated in Europe, where people believed it was lucky to take home a piece of the bride’s gown. The custom of throwing the garter evolved to prevent guests from tearing pieces off the wedding dress.
Australia wedding tradition – The wedding cake
Apparently cake was originally used at weddings as a symbol of the bride’s fertility. Some of the cake was crumbled over the bride’s head and the guests ate the rest. There are various theories about the origins of the modern tiered wedding cake. Some believe that each guest brought a small cake to stack up together for the couple to kiss over. It is also thought that the top tier represented the couple, the bottom tier represented their family and the middle tiers represented the children they hoped for.