Performing a marriage or civil union ceremony
As a marriage celebrant, you're responsible for making sure the legal requirements of the ceremony are met.
Before the ceremony
The couple will give you 2 copies of the 'Copy of Particulars of Marriage' or 'Copy of Particulars of Civil Union' and a return addressed envelope. You must see the marriage licence before you can marry them.
During the ceremony
You need to make sure the couple's vows meet the requirements for a marriage or civil union.
In a marriage ceremony, couples can write their own vows as long as they say “I [name] take you [partner’s name], to be my legal [wife/husband/partner]” (or something similar) at some point in the ceremony.
In a civil union ceremony, the couple must make a statement that names both people and acknowledges that they are freely joining in a civil union with each other.
You also need to:
- be an approved celebrant on the day the licence is issued and the day the wedding is held
- formally identify the people on the marriage or civil union licence as the people you’re marrying
- use the couple’s full names at least once in the ceremony
- hold the ceremony at one of the places named on the licence — if the place is changed due to unforeseen circumstances and the Registry Office could not be contacted to change the details on the licence before the ceremony, you need to include a letter with your documents explaining this
- make sure there are at least 2 witnesses to the ceremony. They must not be intoxicated and must be able to understand what’s happening. If they:
- are children, they have to be old enough to understand the ceremony, and be able to explain their understanding in court later if required
- speak a different language to you, you’ll need an interpreter. The interpreter has to sign a statutory declaration before the ceremony to say they’ll interpret what you say accurately.
After the ceremony
You need to:
- get the couple and the witnesses to sign the 2 copies of the 'Copy of Particulars' straight away — the couple must sign the documents using their pre-marriage signatures
- give the couple 1 copy (BDM45A)
- post the other copy (BDM45) within 10 days using the return addressed envelope the couple gave you.