Weddings are momentous occasions. Lots to be done beforehand so that everything goes smoothly on the day. One key matter is to ensure that you fulfil the requirements of the Marriage Act and that you do so within the time allowed. This is absolutely crucial and something you should discuss with your celebrant early in your arrangements, whether your celebrant is to be a church minister or a civil celebrant.
It can be disastrous to have the venue, the flowers, the photographer, the dresses, the reception centre, the limousines and so on all organised and only then talk to the marriage celebrant. He or she may be already booked!
The best way is for the bride and groom to see their chosen celebrant first, as soon as possible after they have decided when the big day will be. The happy couple has to give notice of their forthcoming marriage to the celebrant at least one month prior to the wedding, but no earlier than eighteen months beforehand. To arrange a wedding these days in less time than a month is next to impossible. That is not to say that the period may not be shortened, but there has to be an emergency or very special circumstances. The consent of a ‘prescribed authority’ is necessary. For Queensland weddings, that person is usually the Registrar General in Brisbane, one of his senior officers or the Clerk of a local court. He has complete discretion and is unlikely to be prepared to shorten the time unless there is a very good reason which falls within the government guidelines. This application costs $25.00 and there is certainly no guarantee of the result.
So the moral is – go and see the celebrant early. He or she will ensure you don’t miss the time lines.
The notice mentioned earlier has to be given in the correct form, which is a Commonwealth Government form entitled “Notice of Intended Marriage”. Each celebrant has them or you can obtain one from the local court or download it from the Internet – www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesandMarriage
On this form must be shown the full names, addresses and occupations of the bride and groom together with their dates and places of birth, parents’ names and some information about any earlier marriages.
When seeing the celebrant, couples need to have the originals of their birth certificates or passports, if born outside Australia. If necessary, there should be translations into English by an authorised translator. If the wedding is a second marriage for either party, then the original divorce or death certificate must be produced. Where there has been a divorce, the original court order of divorce under its seal has to be produced.
If the wedding is to be a civil ceremony, the bride and groom can largely decide on its form, but the Marriage Act lays down that certain words must be included. The marriage celebrant is always pleased to discuss the ceremony with the couple to help them choose just what they want and to supply them with different examples of a ceremony. The time the ceremony takes is within the control of the bride and groom and as a general rule the length of a civic ceremony is between 20 minutes and half an hour depending on the content and any musical items or poetry included.
One last word – to brides. Ladies, please don’t be too late, if you can avoid it! If you are late, then everybody else is thrown out of time. It’s probably a good idea to work to a time, say 15-30 minutes before the celebrant expects the ceremony to begin. This allows for any unexpected holdups, such as your dress or your hair needing last minute attention, the photographer taking longer than you imagined with your home and pre-wedding photographs and so on. If you are early in the end, don’t worry. It will give you a chance to catch your breath and relax before the big event, while your chauffeur drives you around the block.
The official name change
The decision to marry your true love poses a major identity change with regards to your name. Traditionally, Western brides drop their maiden name and adopt their husband’s family name. Today, however, Australia’s cultural rules are more liberal and the modern bride has a range of choices available to her.
Even in these contemporary times, approximately 85 percent of brides decide to take their husband’s surname after marriage. It’s a popular choice, and for many, part of the excitement of getting married is becoming a ‘Mrs’ and adopting a new surname. This being said, many women choose to retain their maiden name at their workplace or in their professional life and reserve their married name for their social and family life.
Your name is an intrinsic part of who you are. For this reason, if you feel strong ties to the name you were born with, or are not fond of your fiance’s surname, the decision to marry may pose some serious decisions. Indeed, the prospect of a change of name can rouse strong reactions because surnames often carry meaningful historical, professional, social, religious or personal meaning.