There has been a great deal of attention in the media over the past few months regarding the validity of marriages performed in Australia by civil marriage celebrants. The Marriage Act 1961 is very clear in what has to be stated by both the couple as they exchange their vows and by the celebrant within the ceremony to ensure that the marriage is a legal and binding union.

Within the ceremony, the celebrant must state the parties complete full names as they appear on the parties birth certificates as means of identifying the couple to be married.

The Marriage Act 1961 (Section 45-2) states – where a marriage is solemnized by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to each other, in the presence of the authorised celebrant and the witnesses, the words….

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I,…….., take thee,……. to be my lawful wedded husband/wife.”

I always tell couples that these words are magic – these are the actual words that marry you to your beloved. Don’t worry that you haven’t said all that you wanted to share with each other in your special moment. You are still able to personalise your vows with your own words either before or after this statement.

Section 46 of the Act also advises that the celebrant must explain the nature of a marriage relationship to the couple and in the presence of their witnesses as stated in the Celebrant Authority or Monitum. These words include…

I am duly authorised by law to solemnize marriages according to law. Before you are joined 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 the law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Cover all of these elements and the legal requirements within your marriage ceremony have been met.

 The rest of the ceremony, well that’s up to you…..your dreams, your hopes, your story.