CODE OF PRACTICE – MARRIAGE CELEBRANT SERVICES

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Not all marriage celebrants are the same so it is good to look and ask around before you make you final decision on who will be the most significant servant for you on your wedding day.

In all professions there are the good the plain and the dreadful – and then there is the price they quote, and these vary significantly across the country and they do not convey to you what you will get and what it is you really need to know about planning and conducting a you wedding ceremony-

If you are looking for a celebrant that really suits you and will work with you to make your day memorable and special, you need to go exploring and get to know something about them. Don’t just select any old celebrant, select a few to explore and chose the one who understands and appreciates what it is you want, the celebrant who can create and deliver your personal, special wedding ceremony. If you want a great ritual that you and your guests will really recall and enjoy, then, make every effort to invest in the services of professional celebrant.

Ask questions like:

  • Are you a qualified celebrant?
  • What to you offer couples you are marrying?
  • What do clients say about you?
  • What are your values in providing marriage celebrant service?
  • Talk us through some of weddings have you conducted?

All professional marriage celebrants registered in the Commonwealth of Australia must abide by a Professional Code of Practice.  For your convenience, I have detailed below the Code of Practice for marriage celebrants as decreed by the Australian Attorney General’s Office.

CODE OF PRACTICE FOR AUSTRALIAN MARRIAGE CELEBRANTS

(regulation 37L)

  1. APPLICATION OF THIS CODE OF PRACTICE

This Code of Practice applies to marriage celebrants (being persons registered under

Subdivision C of Division 1 of Part IV of the Marriage Act 1961).

Note: Under paragraph 39I(1)(b) of the Marriage Act 1961, if the Registrar of Marriage

Celebrants is satisfied that a marriage celebrant has not complied with an obligation under

section 39G of that Act, including this Code of Practice, the Registrar may take disciplinary

measures against the marriage celebrant.

  1. HIGH STANDARD OF SERVICE

A marriage celebrant must maintain a high standard of service in his or her professional

conduct and practice.

  1. RECOGNITION OF SIGNIFICANCE OF MARRIAGE

A marriage celebrant must recognise the social, cultural and legal significance of marriage

and the marriage ceremony in the Australian community, and the importance of strong and

respectful family relationships.

  1. COMPLIANCE WITH THE MARRIAGE ACT AND OTHER LAWS

A marriage celebrant must:

(a) solemnize marriages according to the legal requirements of the Marriage Act 1961

(Cth); and

(b) observe the laws of the Commonwealth and of the State or Territory where the

marriage is to be solemnized; and

(c) prevent and avoid unlawful discrimination in the provision of marriage celebrancy

services.

  1. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MARRIAGE CEREMONIES

A marriage celebrant must respect the importance of the marriage ceremony to the parties

and the other persons organising the ceremony. To that end, the marriage celebrant must

do the following:

(a) give the parties information and guidance to enable them to choose or compose a

marriage ceremony that will meet their needs and expectations;

(b) respect the privacy and confidentiality of the parties;

(c) maintain appropriate facilities to interview parties and provide office facilities,

including facilities for the secure storage of records;

(d) within a reasonable time before the marriage ceremony:

(i) confirm all details with the parties; and

(ii) ensure the return of all personal documents belonging to the parties (unless it is

necessary to keep the documents for the ceremony); and

(iii) sign any necessary declarations;

(e) if requested by the parties, conduct a marriage ceremony rehearsal;

(f) ensure that his or her personal presentation is of an appropriate standard for the

marriage ceremony, and respect the expectations of the parties in relation to the

ceremony;

(g) make efforts to ensure that the marriage ceremony is audible to all those present

(using audio equipment, if required);

(h) ensure accuracy in the preparation of documents, and in the conduct of the marriage

ceremony;

(i) arrive at the venue for the marriage ceremony no later than the time agreed with the

parties;

(j) if the marriage celebrant has agreed to perform more than one marriage ceremony on

the same day:

(i) ensure that the parties to each marriage receive a level of service that meets their

separate and special requirements; and

(ii) be available at the venue for each marriage ceremony at least 20 minutes before

the agreed commencement of each ceremony (unless, in the case of consecutive

ceremonies, the ceremonies are to be held at the same venue);

(k) ensure that all relevant documents are completed and sent to the appropriate

registering authority within 14 days after the marriage ceremony, as required by section

50 of the Marriage Act 1961;

(l) in relation to the provision of marriage services, accept evaluative comment from the

parties, and use any comments to improve performance;

(m) give the parties information about how to notify the Commonwealth Attorney-

General’s Department of any concerns or complaints they may have regarding the

marriage services provided by the marriage celebrant.

  1. KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS SERVICES

A marriage celebrant must:

(a) maintain an up-to-date knowledge about appropriate family relationships services in

the community; and

(b) inform parties about the range of information and services available to them to

enhance, and sustain them throughout, their relationship.

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It is important to make a time to meet with your potential celebrant and see how well you get along, if you are on the same page for what you require in your wedding ceremony.  When you do meet, question your celebrant on the Professional Code Practice, the amount of help they provide in ceremony resource, ceremony construction, additional help and information to which they have access to and do they provide an on site rehearsal?

When you’re completely satisfied make your booking quickly. Remember the cheapest celebrant may not be the best celebrant for you.  Good celebrants aren’t hard to find however they may be booked well ahead and you don’t want to miss out on your preferred marriage celebrant.

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Removing Ongoing Civil Celebrant Appointments Will Harm Marrying Couples

by:  Anthony Walsh – Brisbane Celebrant

The proposed move by the Federal Government to change the way Civil Marriage Celebrants are registered can only cause harm to marring couples.  The annual “Celebrant Registration” fee will not only significantly increase costs of all civil marriages it will also have devastating impacts on one of the most important days in a couples life as marrying couples will have no guarantee that the celebrant of their choice, and with whom they have booked their wedding ceremony, will be still registered at the time of their ceremony.

A Couples choice of a celebrant is based on many individual factors, including the experience, reputation, personality and style of the celebrant, not just the fact that the celebrant has a licence to do the legal paperwork.  Many couples book their wedding well in advance.  I have a number of bookings which are 10 – 14 months in advance.  The seven days to transfer a Notice of Intended Marriage gives couples no time to choose another celebrant, nor is there any guarantee that another celebrant with the same qualities will be able to be found in time.  According to the Coalition of Celebrants Association, ‘this could affect one half of all civil weddings ie 35% of all marriages given 70% of marriages are performed by Commonwealth Celebrants’.

A wedding ceremony and celebration is a complex and difficult task.  It can and often is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events.  Event planning and coordination, balancing family and friendship relationships, meeting expectations and desires, balancing financial and other pressures all adds to the range of feelings and emotions being experienced by marrying couples.  Having to find another celebrant at last minute can only add extra stress and can affect the couple’s confidence and therefore kill the enjoyment of what they dream will be one of the happiest days of their lives.  It is difficult enough when serious illness or injury may strike a celebrant, but the possibility having to change celebrants will be greatly increased by the non payment of an annual fee being attached to the grounds for dismissal.

The primary point of difference between Independent Civil Celebrants and State appointed Marriage Celebrants is the provision of a personalised ceremony tailored to the needs and desires of the couple. Unlike State appointed celebrants in registry offices and churches, independent celebrants do not have a standard set script for the ceremony and ceremonies are personalised to capture the essence of the couple’s relationship.  The quality of the wedding services will decrease with the structuring the Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant Program on an annual cycle of ‘casual contractors’.  When I became a Celebrant it was not on the basis of an annual appointment, nor was it my intention to be providing a government service and having to pay the government for this privilege.

Civil Celebrants already have significant costs.   As marrying couple book or provide the venue, Civil Celebrants do not solemnise marriages at the same venue.  Increasingly couples are choosing to be married in outdoor spaces. This necessitates the need for equipment and experience in delivering ceremony under a variety of more challenging situations.  A Celebrant’s motivation to invest in extra training, professional association support, clothing, computer, a public address system and other equipment depends upon the expectation that there will be time to recoup set-up expenses and achieve the ability to make decent return on investment for one’s work.  All costs are passed onto the marring couples therefore increasing the costs of getting married.

As I clearly state on my website (www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au) “Marriage ceremonies are a public expression of one of the most precious and beautiful of all gifts, the love that you have in your hearts for one another and I offer you the freedom to express those feelings in your own special way.   There are a number of suggestions which I offer to Brides and Grooms that allow you to compile your own civil ceremony, one that is reflective of your own particular style and personalities”.  This is what makes Civil Celebrants different and why the proposed changes to the legislation regarding Civil Celebrants should be abolished.  We do make a difference and we should not be singled out because we provide a quality service in the wedding industry.

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Anthony Walsh CMC, is a qualified, registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, Brisbane celebrant, public speaker and workplace trainer.  Anthony’s personality, relaxed style, and commitment to the betterment of people around him, stand him in good stead as a marriage celebrant. His web site is www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au

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Australian Government Makes Changes to the Marriage Celebrant’s Program

by:  Anthony Walsh – Brisbane Celebrant

For some time now the Australian Government has been looking at making changes to the Marriage Act and as a result, on 20 March 2013, the Attorney-General recently introduced two Bills into Parliament.  These Bills have had the effect of:

  •  Implementing a cost recovery program under the title of Celebrant Administration and Fees to establish the infrastructure for the fees and charges and operating costs of the Marriage Celebrant Section.  This essentially means that Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants will be charged an annual cost recovery levy, the celebrant registration charge. In 2013 the annual registration charge has been set at $240 and the Application Fee to become a celebrant will now be $600.
  • The proposal to use of an Australian passport to establish marrying couples’ date and place of birth to be accepted in place of an original Certificate of Birth.
  • The obligation for the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants to review the performance of celebrants, which has been set at every five years, will be replaced with an annual online performance questionnaire which is “aimed at enabling a more regular and targeted approach to monitoring the performance of celebrants”.

 The Bills have both been referred to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to report back to the Parliament by 18 June 2013. This is a common practice for Bills to be referred to relevant Senate Committees for consideration.

The amendments and new provisions will not come into effect until both Bills are passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate and the Governor-General has given Royal Assent. The government will also make amendments to the Marriage Regulations 1963 to support the changes.

Serious concerns arise out of this action by the government.  The Marriage Celebrants Section of the Attorney Generals Department already has the power to monitor celebrants and discipline them for doing the wrong thing.  The disciplinary measures include the issue of formal warnings, invoking fines, suspension, deregistration and even a prison term if the matter breaches the law.

My appointment as a celebrant was for life and the Government is now reneging on this with the introduction of an annual appointment based on being given the choice to pay a renewal fee – or not – and my compliance with the conditions set out by the Marriage Celebrant Section.  While I agree that there registered celebrants who do not comply with the conditions and the celebrant’s ‘Code of Practice’, to put all celebrants into that basket is offensive and morally and ethically wrong.

The Marriage Celebrant Section should just do its job and use its already given power to weed out the offenders and continue to support those who are professional in their work as a civil celebrant.  If the resources of the section are such that they cannot cope with the demand and responsibility now, then how is it going to cope with the new way of operating?  Perhaps consideration should be being given to returning to putting a cap on the number of celebrants operating in the country.

It is frightening to even consider what other conditions the Marriage Celebrant Section has up its sleeve for the future?  With the new powers proposed under the Act, will they set a minimum number of wedding ceremonies to be solemnised in a year in order to qualify, forced upgrading of qualifications, compulsory retirement?

It is also interesting to note that religious celebrants and Births Deaths and Marriages office staff are not scrutinised as heavily as civil celebrants.  They too are celebrants, so why not? It is shameful that politicians and officials are being conned into believing that if celebrants were to work better, advertise more, and looked more professional then everything will be okay.  It is not the individual celebrant’s fault, it is the fault of the system and I lay the blame directly at the door of the Marriage Celebrant Section for not doing what they are already empowered to do.  It seems that they just fell apart and just could not cope when the restriction on the number of celebrants was lifted and the number of Authorised Celebrants rose sharply and continues to do so.

Marriage ceremonies are a public expression of one of the most precious and beautiful of all gifts, the love that two people have in their hearts for one another.  Celebrants do everything they can to ensure wedding ceremonies are remembered for all the right reasons and for some of us it is our primary business.

Let’s be fair in all of this, not only is retrospective legislation unreasonable and unacceptable in Australia, a number of the proposed changes to the Marriage Act have not been well thought out or due consideration been given to the long term implications and tends.  It is the responsibility of the government to get it right.  In this respect then, the time must be taken, not to just rush things though to meet the 1 July 2013 self imposed deadline, but to ‘just get it right’.

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Anthony Walsh CMC, is a qualified, registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, Brisbane celebrant, public speaker and workplace trainer.  Anthony’s personality, relaxed style, and commitment to the betterment of people around him, stand him in good stead as a marriage celebrant. His web site is www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au

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SAMPLE WEDDING CEREMONY by Brisbane Celebrant Anthony Walsh

Brisbane Celebrant, Anthony Walsh, writes wedding ceremonies with and for his clients.  This is a sample wedding ceremony which ensures that the marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman performed in accordance to Law. The important requirements of Law are included ensuring that, at the conclusion of a wedding ceremony, a couple is legally married.

Wedding Ceremony is Called to Order

(Brisbane Celebrant gains the attention of guests, reminds them to turn off mobile telephones and announces the arrival of Sue and the Bridal Party.)

Ring Bearer & Flower Girl

(Ring Bearer commences the walk down the aisle followed by the flower girl.  The Ring Bearer hands over the ring pillow to the Best Man.)

Arrival of Bride

(Music commences. Maid of Honour Julie and Bride’s Maid Paula walk down the aisle followed by Sue escorted by her father, Bill.  They take up a position just in front of John and the Brisbane Marriage Celebrant.)

Giving Away the Bride

Brisbane Celebrant: Who has brought Sue to be married today to John?

Bill – Father of Sue: I do. (Sue’s father places Sue’s hand in John’s and joins the guests at his seat.)

Celebrant Words of Introduction

Brisbane Celebrant: Good afternoon, on behalf of John and Sue I welcome you all today to witness this marriage ceremony, a very important moment in their lives and thank you for begin here to share this special occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Anthony Walsh, of Marriage Celebrant Services, and I am duly authorised to solemnise marriages according to law and I am honoured to be asked to carry out the official duties today.  We have been invited here today to share with John and Sue a very important moment in their lives.  In the 10 years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife.

The Nature of Marriage

Brisbane Celebrant: Love is the most profound experience that can come to humankind and marriage symbolises the ultimate intimacy between two people to be entered into with certainty and with mutual respect.  Before we proceed any further in joining Sue and John in marriage in my presence and in the presence of your witnesses, I have a duty to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.  Sue and John do you understand that marriage, according to law, is the union of a man and a woman, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others.

Sue & John: We do.

Brisbane Celebrant : Do you come here of a free mind and of a free spirit to enter into this life long relationship?

Sue & John: We do.

Brisbane Celebrant: As you declare publicly your desire to live together as husband and wife; you make a commitment to love, to care for, to consider and to respect each other.  May your bond of love will become deeper and more meaningful with each passing year.

Exchange of Vows

Brisbane Celebrant: The marriage vows are the intimate moment in a wedding ceremony when our couple pledge their commitment to each other, and declare before all of us what this relationship means to each them.  Sue and John have written their own vows which they will state now.

Sue: I, Sue Jones, call upon the people present here today to witness my pledge to you John Smith, to be your loving friend and partner in marriage.  To talk and to listen, to trust and appreciate you; to respect and cherish your uniqueness; and to support, comfort, and strengthen you through life’s joys and sorrows.  I promise to share hopes, thoughts, and dreams as we build our lives together.

John: I, John Smith, call upon the people present here today to witness my pledge to you Sue Jones, to be your loving friend and partner in marriage.  To talk and to listen, to trust and appreciate you; to respect and cherish your uniqueness; and to support, comfort, and strengthen you through life’s joys and sorrows.  I promise to share hopes, thoughts, and dreams as we build our lives together.

Exchange of Rings

Brisbane Celebrant:  We have now come to the exchange of rings, which is the traditional way of sealing the vows that Sue and John have made here today. The wedding ring is an unbroken circle symbolising unending and everlasting love and is the outward sign and reminder of the lifelong promise that you have made to each other.

(The Best Man hands the rings to the Celebrant)

John: (takes Sue’s ring from the Celebrant and while placing it on her finger repeats after the Celebrant) I John, give you Sue, this ring as an eternal symbol of my love and commitment to you.

Sue: (takes John’s ring from the Celebrant and while placing it on his finger repeats after the Celebrant) I Sue, give you John, this ring as an eternal symbol of my love and commitment to you.

Declaration of Marriage

Brisbane Celebrant: You have declared before me, your witnesses, your family and your friends that you will live together in marriage.  By the authority afforded to me, as a marriage celebrant and by the Commonwealth of Australia, I have pleasure in declaring that you are now husband and wife.  Congratulations to you both, you may now kiss each other.

Signing of Documents

Brisbane Celebrant: I now ask the Bride, Groom and their witnesses to move to the signing table.  There will be a short pause while the official documents are signed and witnessed.  During this time you can relax and enjoy the music that John and Sue have chosen.  At the conclusion of the signing there will be an opportunity for those who want to take photographs.

Presentation

Brisbane Celebrant: Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Mr and Mrs Smith. Ladies and gentlemen this concludes the ceremony, will you please stand and join me in congratulating them with a big round of applause.

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Anthony Walsh CMC, is a qualified, registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, Brisbane celebrant, public speaker and workplace trainer.  Anthony’s personality, relaxed style, and commitment to the betterment of people around him, stand him in good stead as a marriage celebrant. His web site is www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au

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Writing Your Wedding Ceremony Capturing The Essence Of Your Relationship

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By: Anthony Walsh – Brisbane Celebrant

Congratulations and best wishes for your up and coming marriage.
Your wedding celebrant will tell you that there is a lot to do to make the day memorable for all the right reasons, in particular the format and content of your ceremony. Marriage ceremonies are a public expression of one of the most precious and beautiful of all gifts, the love that you have in your hearts for one another. Writing your own ceremony offers you the freedom to express those feelings in your own special way.

Wedding ceremonies are an expression of the commitment between two people that will be witnessed by family and friends. Under the guidance of a Brisbane Celebrant, the creating and writing of your own ceremony provides the opportunity to construct a meaningful and unique event that incorporates all the elements you want thus creating a day that will be remembered by all who attend.

Here are a few ideas prepared by a Brisbane Marriage Celebrant for when you are considering what you want in a ceremony and how your ceremony is to be conducted. By incorporating words, music and readings that reflect your own feelings for each other, together with your hopes and dreams for your future together, you are making a declaration of love and commitment to marriage which is “the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other.”(Marriage Act 1961).
Research:- there are many resources available including books, Marriage Celebrants, wedding planners and the internet. An internet search for ‘writing a wedding ceremony uncovers over 656,000 results.

Marriage Celebrants:- have conducted a number of ceremonies and are a wealth of knowledge and ideas on what to include in a ceremony, particularly what works and how they can be incorporated to make the ceremony flow.

Legal Requirements:- there are ‘Forms of Words’ that must be included in your ceremony.
• The Marriage Celebrant must make clear his/her authority to perform the ceremony
• The nature of marriage is the solemn and binding union of a man and a woman, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others
• You are free to write your own vows but your ceremony must include the words, “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I (name) take you (name of partner) to be my lawful wedded (husband/wife).”

Venue:- the choice is yours and the decision fundamentally comes down to what sort of wedding it is you wish to have. There is a lot to consider in choosing a venue for a wedding ceremony – inside, outside, will it handle the number of guests, noise, weather, just to name a few.

Music:- is fundamental to many ceremonies and can be live or recorded and appropriately chosen for its significance to the couple and their relationship. Music is generally used as background, for the entry procession and the exit by the Bride and Groom, at the signing of the Register and anywhere else you may choose.

Readings:- are not only a traditional aspect of a wedding ceremony, they add a personal touch in the way they communicate your values and the sentiments associated with your relationship. Readings should be chosen with care so make sure you understand the meaning of the text. Your reader should have a strong voice and should be well rehearsed before the ceremony.

Vows:- remembering to include the legal requirement, vows are an integral part of the ceremony. It is a very romantic moment where love, promises and commitments are made. Writing vows may not be easy so there are many examples that can be found and adjusted to reflect the nature of your relationship. Just ask your Wedding Celebrant for advice.

Special Rituals:- add a special touch to a ceremony with a visual and active element that can involve just the Bride and Groom and Marriage Celebrant and/or some or all of the guests. Some ritual ideas include Warming of the Rings, Sand Ceremony, Hand Tying, Sharing the Wine, Breaking the Glass, Candle Lighting, and many more.

Writing your own ceremony gives you the opportunity to spend time together while considering the meaning of the depth of your relationship. The process is straightforward, fun and can incorporate family, cultural and spiritual traditions. Your Brisbane Celebrant should, not only take care of all the legal aspects of a ceremony, but also work closely with you providing as much guidance as is desired and necessary allowing couples to compile your own civil ceremony reflecting your own particular style.
Creating your own ceremony provides a rich and unique opportunity to share the essence of your relationship with family and friends. All the very best in creating a ceremony that is distinctively yours.

Anthony Walsh CMC, is a qualified, registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, Brisbane Celebrant, public speaker and workplace trainer. Anthony’s personality, relaxed style, and commitment to the betterment of people around him, stand him in good stead as a Brisbane Marriage Celebrant. His web site is http://www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au

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The Nature of Marriage – A Brisbane Celebrant’s Perspective

Brisbane Celebrant, Anthony Walsh with Tracy & Peter signing the register at their wedding in 2010

Anthony Walsh is a Brisbane  Marriage Celebrant.  As a Brisbane celebrant, after congratulating my couples, one of the first things I advise them is that marriage is a contract.  According to law, marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other.  For anyone planning to get married it is important to understand the nature of marriage and their responsibilities when entering into this relationship.  The Marriage Act 1961, Section 46, states very clearly the duty and responsibility of the civil celebrant to explain the nature of the marriage relationship along with the words to be used, “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.”  As an example, the following is provided from a Marriage Celebrant Services ceremony:

“Brisbane Celebrant:- Love is the most profound experience that can come to humankind and marriage symbolises the ultimate intimacy between two people to be entered into with certainty and with mutual respect.  Before we proceed any further in joining Tracy and Peter in marriage in my presence and in the presence of your witnesses, I have a duty to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.  Do you understand that marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others.

Tracy & Peter:-We do.

Brisbane Celebrant:-Do you come here of a free mind and of a free spirit to enter into this life long relationship?

Tracy & Peter:-We do.

Brisbane Celebrant:-As you declare publicly your desire to live together as husband and wife, you also make a commitment to love, to care for, to consider, and to respect each other.  Your bond of love will become deeper and even more meaningful with each passing year serving as a source of common energy giving you strength to live your lives with happiness and confidence.”

These words are a public declaration by the Bride and the Groom of their understanding and commitment they are about to make.

The increase in marriages ending in divorce and those staying together being unhappy is cause for concern.  Marriage is not subject to an expiry date nor should it be up for renegotiation after a number of years.  It is something that lives, grows and develops from the very beginning through love, honest and open communication, tolerance, the celebration of individual differences and the readiness to forgive and learn from every experience.   Brisbane Celebrant Anthony Walsh, takes time with his couples to have them understand that marriage does take work and a concerted effort for the bonds to grow and strengthen.

Most people learn about marriage by watching their parents, relatives and friends along with television and what they read which result in perspectives on marriage varying from person to person.  As a result, the government recommends the participation in a marriage education program and has produced a document ‘Happily Ever…Before and After’ which provides some information on what it means to be married, the Laws one needs to know and where to go for marriage education, counselling and advice.  A direct link to that document can be found on ‘marriagecelebrantservices.com.au’

Marriage is a deep relationship between husband and wife involving not only their physical self but also their hearts and souls.  When two people get married, it is the joining together of two separate lives into one married life.  Simply just going through a marriage ceremony and living in the same house, simply having a Marriage Certificate does not equate to complete satisfaction between a couple without  couples willingly  and with commitment develop and nurture the relationship with each other.  This does not happen through reading books or going to class, it happens when a husband and wife clear the calendar and take the time to open up with each other.  On your wedding day the Brisbane Celebrant asks couples to remember ‘May the love that you are feeling today continue to grow stronger and deeper as you travel through all of your tomorrows.’

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GETTING MARRIED – Making Sure It Is Legal

Introduction

There is more to getting married than choosing a day, a celebrant, a reception centre, the menu, attendants, dress, etc.  Marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman committing to live together forever to the exclusion of all others.  In order to make sure a marriage it legal, in keeping with the Marriage Act, there are a number of requirements, therefore it is important to be aware of these ensuring they are included in your marriage preparations and ceremony.

Celebrant

Deciding on a civil marriage celebrant can be difficult, a personal consideration that has to be the most significant decision to be made regarding a wedding.  It is the marriage celebrant who solemnises marriages according to law and assists in designing a wedding ceremony that not only complies with law, but also reflects the values, meaning of love and commitment of the bride and groom.

Celebrants are professionally, qualified civil or religious celebrants registered by the government to perform marriages.  Every registered celebrant has a registration number which should be confirmed by those marrying.  The celebrant has access to all documents, forms and certificates required to perform and register marriages.

By law, celebrants must give counselling on what it means to be married, the laws to be known and where to go for marriage education and counselling.  This is contained in a pamphlet ‘Happily Ever…Before &and After’ one of which must be given to each the bride and groom.

All registered civil celebrants subscribe to the ‘Code of Practice for Marriage Celebrants’ which is enshrined in the Marriage Act. This Code requires a high standard of service, recognition of the significance of marriage, compliance with the Marriage Act, standards and professionalism, and a knowledge and understanding of family relationship services.

The celebrant has the responsibility of ensuring all documentation with regard a marriage is forwarded to the appropriate government department within 14 days of the completion of the ceremony.

Proof of Age & Status

In order to be married a “Notice of Intended Marriage” form, a copy is to be lodged with the celebrant. A celebrant will have access to these forms or you can download a copy from the Attorney General’s Department website.  The Notice of Intended Marriage must be lodged with the celebrant at least one month prior to the ceremony and is valid for a minimum of 18 months.

The age of 18 years must be attained to qualify for marriage.  Exceptions can be made only with a Judge’s permission. Under certain circumstances the period of ‘Notice’ may be shortened and the age restriction dropped.  A celebrant should be able to assist with such applications.

The documents required to be married are:

If you have been never married you will require an original copy of your Birth Certificates or official Extracts of Birth – available through the Office of Births Deaths and Marriages.

If you have been previously married and:

  • are divorced, a Birth Certificates & Divorce Papers clearly indicating the Decree Absolute
  • are a widower or widow, a Birth Certificate & the Death Certificate of your previous  partner

If born overseas and the Birth Certificate and all records of birth have been destroyed a Statutory Declaration may be completed.

Ceremony and Words

A good marriage celebrant will offer the opportunity to draft a ceremony with the freedom to express thoughts and feelings in special and unique way.   Within this however, there are ‘Forms of Words’ that must be included in the ceremony.

  • The celebrant  must make clear his/her authority to perform the ceremony stating early in the ceremony, “I (name) am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.”
  • The nature of marriage is enshrined in Family Law instructing that it is a solemn and binding union of a man and a woman, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others.  Prior to the bride and groom exchanging their vows the celebrant must publicly ask, “(names of Bride & Groom) before you are joined in marriage, in my presence, and in the presence of your 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, and is voluntarily entered into for life. Do you come here freely to enter into this life long relationship?”
  • The Bride and Groom are free to write their own vows, however at some stage they must include the following words, “I call  upon the persons here present to witness that I (name) take you (name of partner) to be my lawful wedded (husband/wife).”

The marriage ceremony must be attended by a minimum of two witnesses over the age of 18 years who can hear the wedding vows being spoken and are prepared to sign the documentation as witnesses the marriage.  There are two Certificates of Marriage and the Marriage Register to be signed at the appropriate point in the service by the Bride, Groom, both witnesses and the celebrant.  The ceremonial certificate is presented to the Bride while the other documents are retained by the celebrant for forwarding to the relevant government body along with any other statutory declarations, consents, certifications, and dispensations applicable to the marriage.

Conclusion

There is a lot to be considered, understood and seen to to ensure that a marriage is considered legal.  Follow the guidance in this article in preparing and conducting a marriage ceremony and a legal marriage can be assured.

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