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  • Writer's pictureSteve King

We’ve just got engaged - now what?

We’ve just got engaged.... so what do I do now? You’d be amazed how many times that question is asked by couples getting married and not just those getting married for the first time, it is still asked by people on their second and third marriage. Maybe it’s becausegetting married is not an everyday occurrence.

This is where your friendly celebrants come in. We can guide you through the legalities and what you need to do before, during and after your marriage ceremony, yes there are things to do after the ceremony.

A good celebrant will work with you to create a ceremony that is tailored to your style, personalities and can be created to be completely unique to you.

First things first… there are rules that we need to follow, so let's make sure that you and your partner are eligible to get married.

1. Are either of you married already? To each other or to other people? The answer to this MUST be 'no'. You can’t have a small, quick “legals only” weddings and a year or so later have another wedding with lots of friends and guests as a number of people have asked to do during the COVID pandemic.

2. Are you both 18+? This one should be 'yes', however speak to your celebrant if one of you is 16+ as there are ways that allow a marriage to take place.

3. Are you related to each other in a direct line? This one is a 'no'. But again, talk to your celebrant who can explain the exact definition of the law.

4. Have you given at least one months notice to your celebrant? It’s amazing how many people don’t know that there is a month’s wait from the time the celebrant takes possession of the Notice of Intended Marriage, the first of many papers you will need to sign, and the day you can get married.

You and your partner will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form and lodging it with your chosen celebrant at least one month (and no earlier than 18 months) before the ceremony. Your celebrant will then make sure it's all in order and check your ID.

An ID needs to do two things:

1. show where and when you were born and

2. prove you are who you say you are (a photo ID)

A passport does both of these things, but don't worry if you don't have a passport, you can still use your birth certificate, or proof of age card, and a driver's licence.

If either you or your partner have been married before, you MUST show proof of the end of the previous marriage. If you don’t provide proof the celebrant can’t legally perform the marriage ceremony.

Do you both consent to the marriage? Again - this one is a big 'yes'. Nobody can be forced into a marriage in Australia.

Once you have the legal paperwork down, then depending on the type of wedding you are planning, there are a few other tasks that you'll need to add to your list.

Here are some things your might include to your list of decisions:

The Date

The first thing to do is chose a few possible dates, and with people coming from interstate, that could be hard. Talk to your celebrant and find out which date they are available.

In Australia, the most popular month to get married is October closely followed by November and March. Having said that, I love the whole ‘Winter Wedding” thing.

Not for some basic stats:- 62% of all weddings in Australia happen on a Saturday; 15% on a Friday and 11% on a Sunday.... it's a good fact to remember that whilst there are 52 Saturdays in the year, there are only 12/13 in those three most popular months, so you're going to want to secure your celebrant as early as you can.

Choosing a Celebrant There are a few options when it comes to choosing who you'd like to marry you:

1. Marriage Celebrant- somebody who is appointed by and registered with the Attorney General's Department and will work together with you to create a personalised civil ceremony. Marriage Celebrants can marry you anywhere and at anytime, obviously there are some rules we need to follow here.

There are a few of us Civil Celebrants that will incorporate a religious element into a civil ceremony, I’m an ordained minister and can offer that as part of the service I provide, however, I am not a Religious Celebrant or Religious Minster as defined below, therefore, as an Equality Marriage Celebrant, I’m more than happy to marry same sex couples. 2. Religious Celebrant - similar to a Marriage Celebrant, but when the Marriage Equality law was changed in 2017 registered civil celebrants were given a 3 month window to change over into a new type of registration allowing them to decline marrying same sex couples because of their personal religious beliefs. 3. Religious Minsters - somebody who is affiliated with a religious church or organisation. 4. Registry Office - There is a Marriage Registry Office (BDM) in each state/territory. You are generally limited to an appointed time during the week to hold your ceremony at their office, have little to no say in your ceremony and may only be allowed to take a small number (if any) guests.

When choosing your celebrant, think about your values as a couple, your needs for timing and location and more importantly, choose somebody who you get along with. Remember, your celebrant will be instrumental in setting the vibe for your ceremony, so it's important that they understand you and your needs.

One last thing to remember, without a celebrant it’s not a wedding, it’s just a party.

In part two of this blog, I’ll look into venues, guests lists, The Bridal Party, The Photographer/Videographer and heaps of other stuff, please join me next week.

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