A registry ceremony has a set cost and standard vows. You have to have it on a weekday, and not a public holiday.
Decide where in NZ
Registry ceremonies are limited to 20 guests. You need to arrange a celebrant and a venue.
When you apply for your marriage licence online, you can select a celebrant based on the location you’d like for your ceremony. Registry offices are no longer available for ceremonies.
If you are unsure about a location, many couples get married in their home or garden, or choose another location like a restaurant or public park. You may need permission from the park administrators.
It is best to discuss a venue with your celebrant before booking. Some celebrants offer a venue at their own home. Otherwise they’ll agree on a venue with you when you contact them.
Under the Marriage Act, a marriage can’t occur virtually. That is, you cannot use video conferencing software (for example, Zoom or Skype) and the couple, celebrant and witnesses must be physically present in the same place.
Apply for a marriage licence
You have to get a marriage licence at least 3 working days before the ceremony. A licence confirms it’s legal for you to marry.
You need to bring 2 witnesses to the ceremony.
Who can be a witness
Your 2 witnesses must understand what’s happening during the ceremony. They must be able to clearly identify both of you and be satisfied you both consent to the marriage.
- don’t need to have known you for any specific length of time and
- can be children of any age, as long as they understand the nature of the ceremony and are able to demonstrate that understanding in court if required.
If the witnesses speak a different language to you, you’ll need an interpreter. The interpreter has to sign a declaration before the ceremony to say they’ll interpret what you say accurately.
Registry marriages follow a script and you must use standard vows:
If you prefer to use your own vows: Personalised ceremonies
After the ceremony, your celebrant will give you a “Copy of particulars of marriage”. This is not the same as a marriage certificate.
They’ll use another “Copy of particulars of marriage” to register your marriage with the NZ government.