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Weddings In Australia & New Zealand

wedding in queenstown nz


Can we get married in Australia or New Zealand, and will the marriage be recongnized once we get home?


Here are the regulations for Australia - those for New Zealand are similar but just a bit simpler - but in short, yes you can and yes it will be. We know several companies that specialize in US and other citizens who want to get married in Australia or New Zealand. Them we can organize your perfect honeymoon. Call or email for more information - 1 877 VEGEMITE.


Finding the right marriage celebrant

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. Choosing the right marriage celebrant will make sure your day is a memorable one.

You should ensure your proposed celebrant is authorised as a marriage celebrant under the Marriage Act 1961 by checking the Register of Marriage Celebrants or the List of Authorised Marriage Celebrants. You will find marriage celebrants from religious organisations as well as celebrants from non-recognised denominations on the list of authorised marriage celebrants. However, we suggest allowing us to organize a wedding company for you ceremony, who will have trusted celebrants that they have worked with over the years.

It is also advisable to confirm your wedding arrangements in writing in plenty of time before the day.

Marriage celebrants are encouraged to offer a choice of ceremonies where this is appropriate, or assist the couple in writing their own. You should feel comfortable with your celebrant and feel confident that he/she suits your needs and will complement your special day.

Providing notice of your intended marriage


Within 18 months of your proposed marriage, and no later than one month and one day prior to it, you must give a completed Notice of Intended Marriage (64Kb pdf) form to the authorised marriage celebrant who is to conduct your marriage ceremony. All marriage celebrants should have the necessary paper work to perform your marriage.

You will need your birth certificates (originals) and evidence that any prior marriage has been dissolved by either death or divorce. If you do not have a birth certificate and you are not an Australian and live overseas a passport can be used. If at all possible we stronly recommend using a birth certificate to avoid any possible problems. If previously married and now divorced or your spouse has died decree absolute or death certificate is required. Requirements can be seen on the Notice of Intended Marriage above.

Shortening of Time

It is possible to shorten the minimum notice time for a marriage to less than a month if the special circumstances set out in the Marriage Regulations 1963 are met. You will need to approach a Prescribed Authority for approval, and it is best to let your Celebrant handle this, as the form is State-specific and different states may have different fees and lodging procedures. Prescribed authorities (usually Local Court or Registry officials) can shorten the required period of notice if they are satisfied that the circumstances prescribed in the Regulations are met.

The five categories of circumstances set out in the Regulations. These are:

1. Employment–related, or other travel commitments
2. Wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations
3. Medical reasons
4. Legal proceedings, and
5. Error in giving notice.

The reason for wanting a shortening of time for notice must fall within one of these categories. There is no capacity to grant a shortening of time outside these circumstances. Shortening of time is not automatic. When making a decision, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) or a prescribed authority will weigh up the information provided in support of your application and may seek additional information as outlined in the Regulations. You should have the documentation that supports your request before approaching a prescribed authority.


If for some reason you need to change your marriage celebrant, it is the responsibility of the first marriage celebrant to ensure the Notice of Intended Marriage form is transferred safely to the second celebrant by hand or registered post. You must ask the celebrant to transfer the notice for you.


Marriage celebrants authorised by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department are entitled to charge for any services that they provide. Fees for weddings are not fixed and may vary from marriage celebrant to marriage celebrant. Make sure you reach an agreement on the fees before asking the celebrant to hold a date. You should also ensure you understand which charges are non-refundable and obtain a written statement of all fees and charges. In addition to the Celebrant fee there will be a fee for the registration of a Certificate of Marriage for state in which you are married.

Participating in a marriage ceremony

People who are not authorised marriage celebrants may participate in aspects of a marriage ceremony. However, there are several legal requirements before, during and after the ceremony that can only be fulfilled by an authorised marriage celebrant.

At the ceremony, the authorised marriage celebrant must:

* consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant
* take a public role in the ceremony
* identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage
* be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage, according to law
* say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before the marriage is solemnised
* be in close proximity (ie nearby) when the vows required by subsection 45(2) are exchanged. It is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant must see and hear the vows being exchanged
* be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for it elsewhere in the ceremony
* be part of the ceremonial group or in close proximity to it; and
* sign the papers as required by the Act.

You need two witnesses over the age of 18 to attend the ceremony. After the ceremony you will receive a Party Certificate, the Celebrant will keep a certificate and a third certificate is the Certificate of Marriage application. You and your witnesses must sign all three. Note that this is not a legal wedding certificate but a form for your own records. To obtain a legal wedding certificate that will be recognized by authorities within and outside Australia your wedding has to be registered in the state in which it occurred after the fact. Your Celebrant will have the correct form for this, and will help you fill it out. As this can take time to obtain, it will normally be mailed to you once back in your home country, however this can be obtained immediately at certain offices in some states. Your Celebrant can advise about this for the State you are being married in.

Same-sex commitment ceremony

Subsection 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as ‘...the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’ Accordingly, it is not possible for same-sex couples to marry under Australian law and same-sex marriages entered into under the laws of another country are also not recognised in Australia.

It is not illegal to conduct a commitment ceremony for same-sex couples, though, provided that ceremony does not purport to be a legal marriage.


We strongly advise using an Australian wedding company that is used to arranging weddings in Australia for US citizens. The can take care of all the legalities, and have a wide range of services at hand, inclduing florists, dressmakers (repairs may be necessary), celebrants, resorts for the ceremony or thehoneymoon, access to special locations such as Bondi Beach, the Opera House, a deserted tropical island, and more, that will make this important day run just as smoothly as if you were getting married in your home town.