Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky

Archive for May, 2014

Two Things to be Sure of When Designing Your Wedding
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

By Damien Bowen, Director at Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky Lawyers

13 May 2014

Australia is a relaxed country to get married in.  Your wedding ceremony can be on a beach, in a treehouse or even, as some prefer, in an aquarium surrounded by tropical fish.  Long gone are the days of churches or registry offices being the only options.

Despite the more relaxed approach to venues, from a legal perspective there are still a couple of things you need to be sure of for the marriage to be valid.

Registered marriage celebrant

You can only be married by a registered marriage celebrant or a registered Minister of Religion of a recognised denomination.  You and your spouse-to-be may both be Elvis Presley tragics, but unlike Las Vegas, hiring an Elvis look-alike to perform the deed won’t cut it legally in Australia – unless, of course, your Elvis impersonator also happens to be a registered marriage celebrant.

It isn’t often that I come across someone whose marriage is invalid because of who married them.  But this can happen when people think the rules about getting married have all been thrown out.  Finding a registered marriage celebrant is easy if you go online.

Using the right words

The Commonwealth Marriage Act requires the celebrant to explain to the bride and groom the nature of a marriage relationship.  The celebrant must use these words or words to the same effect:

” I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these 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, voluntarily entered into for life”

Once this explanation is given, the husband and wife to be must, in the presence of the celebrant and the witnesses say to each other the following word or words to the same effect:

” I call upon the persons here present to witness that I [a] take you [b] to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”

It is very common these days for husbands and wives-to-be to make up their chosen promises – the time-honoured “love, honour and obey” having declined in popularity.   Making pledges more personal can certainly enrich the ceremony and make it more meaningful for everyone involved.  The important thing is to ensure that the wedding vows don’t get left behind in the romantic haze.  From a legal perspective they are all important!

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