Questions about getting married

Your questions answered here

How I can help you?

How do I choose a great Civil Celebrant?

To select someone who will be intimately involved in your ceremony, I strongly recommend that you should meet before confirming your decision. Obviously meeting face-to-face is best, but otherwise Zoom can suffice.

This is a profession with a wide range of prices and the mantra that “you get what you pay for” is often correct. You may regret deciding simply on the basis of the Celebrant’s website or price.

Personally, I would select a Celebrant who ‘gets’ you and your vision for your ceremony. The Celebrant should bring no ego to the assignment, but rather should be prepared to implement your  vision. That said, the Celebrant should have sufficient skills and experience to offer pertinent suggestions to improve your ceremony.

Your Celebrant should share your sense of the importance of the ceremony’s content and delivery. They should be across both the legal and creative aspects of ceremony planning. If they are unsure of a legal matter, they should know how to quickly and accurately find the correct answer.

They should be fully transparent in their pricing, terms of engagement and have no hidden extra costs. You should expect unlimited access to the Celebrant.

Ultimately, I suggest that you decide on a Celebrant with whom you are entirely comfortable and confident. After all, there’s only one chance to get it right on the day!

For my part, I offer a free, no-obligation introductory meeting to ensure that we are ‘a perfect match’. I also offer a comprehensive guaranteed fixed-price Service Agreement.

My personal and professional background is detailed on this site.

How do we know if we are a 'perfect match'?

I would love the opportunity to chat with you, perhaps over a coffee or wine, at a mutually convenient time and place.

In the post Covid era, I’m also happy to discuss your plans over Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone.

Our introductory discussion is at no obligation and nor cost to you whatsoever.

Here’s all my contact details, or just complete the Quick Contact form below.

Where in Australia are your services available?

Whilst I am based in the central highlands region of Victoria, in the beautiful ‘Spa Country’ twin towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, I am qualified, willing and able to perform ceremonies in all areas of Victoria and indeed anywhere across Australia.

Generous travel allowances are included in my package prices (for weddings and elopements, as well as various other ceremonies), and any incremental costs are agreed upon before signing my guaranteed fixed-price Service Agreement.

What ceremonies do you perform in addition to weddings?

I design and officiate a wide variety of ceremonies additional to the best-known roles of weddings and elopements. Basically, ceremonies are increasingly used by society as markers of passage through the many milestones of life. These events are truly “rites of passage”.

Beyond weddings and elopement ceremonies, the public display of a committed personal relationship can also be expressed through commitment and renewal of vows ceremonies, both of which are becoming increasingly common.

Growing families offers many opportunities to celebrate particular milestones including naming, adoption, blended family, coming of age and new baby ceremonies to name a few. Such rituals offer important opportunities to be inclusive of family and relevant communities and to formally acknowledge their significance.

Beside funerals, ash scattering and memorial ceremonies offer further opportunities to both process grief and to also celebrate life. Meanwhile, current generations as they age are seeking to become more active and present by way of participating in events such as living wakes.

As family life increasingly becomes more and more inclusive of our pets or so-called “fur children”, events such as pet welcomes and pet memorials are also becoming more popular.

This site offers further details and package prices for such ceremonies.

Unlike weddings and elopements, these ‘other’ ceremonies are generally far less inhibited by legal regulations, and so offer much greater flexibility and creativity in their design and are thus generally available at a lower price than legally mandated rituals. Incidentally, 100% of respondents to my post-ceremony online survey described my prices as “fair” or even “cheap”.

How do you plan a ceremony?

I like to firstly sit down with you and listen to your own vision and expectations for your ceremony, so that it can be highly personalised to your own specific needs.

If you want, I can provide you with a written basic structure showing an indicative starting point to developing the content. This structure contains some ‘thought-starters’ based on popular elements included in many ceremonies. Most suggested components are not necessary from a legal perspective, but may be considered of value to potentially enhance the overall ‘staging’ of the ceremony.

That said, I am also more than happy to consider any other ‘out of the box’ suggestions that you may have.

After our chat, I then draft a ceremony which is reviewed and discussed with you until you are completely satisfied with the content and tone.

This website offers more details and packages for weddings and elopements as well as for many of the other types of ceremonies such as Vow Renewals and Namings.

What is your presentation style?

I would describe my default approach as being quite friendly, warm, approachable, authentic and down-to-earth whilst also being highly professional and thorough.

I strongly believe that the Celebrant is not the ‘star’ of the show and should never overshadow the participants in any way, whether in style, content or attire. I bring no ego to a ceremony’s creation and presentation.

The video on this website offers a clear picture of my overall style and approach. My personal and professional background is also detailed on this site. You can further read how my clients have reviewed my services.

I happily offer a free, no-obligation meeting to ensure that we are ‘a perfect match’.

Is our personal information kept private?

Yes, I provide full confidentiality regarding all matters discussed and also revealed in your documentation.

The content of the ceremony is presented on the day only after your explicit approval of a highly detailed script.

What price is your service?

At first, this can be like the proverbial “how long is a piece of string?” type of question! Given the many variable factors in each unique ceremony, once the scope of your requirements are clearly defined, a guaranteed fixed-price package will be offered to you during or immediately after our initial no-cost and no-obligation meeting.

Wedding and elopement ceremony complexity can vary quite widely, ranging from the basic ‘legals only’ procedure to a modest ‘elopement’ service culminating in the elaborate celebration with all the bells and whistles. Accordingly, prices vary in proportion to the intricacy of the preparation for the celebration. Whatever the style, I certainly aim for pricing that is consistently good value, competitive and fair for all parties.

Other types of ceremonies are not encumbered by strict legal requirements, and so are generally more flexible and also less expensive than marriage ceremonies.

To reflect the workload of ceremony creation, my terms are usually 75% payable within a week of signing the Service Agreement with the remaining 25% due one month prior to the ceremony. Of course, I am also happy to discuss your cashflow preferences to suit all parties.

You may regret deciding on a Celebrant simply on the basis of their price. This is a profession with a wide range of prices and the mantra that “you get what you pay for” is often correct. I suggest that you decide on a Civil Celebrant with whom you are entirely comfortable and confident. After all, there’s only one chance to get it right on the day!

Some comments on my pricing can be found in my couples’ feedback. Incidentally, 100% of respondents to my post-ceremony online survey described my prices as “fair” or even “cheap”.

Do you offer a written Service Agreement?

It’s not often that we need to employ the professional services of a Civil Celebrant.

And so, in the interests of total transparency, I routinely produce a comprehensive written Service Agreement detailing all agreed services, responsibilities and confirming the guaranteed fixed price delivery.

Wedding and elopement planning

How much written notice is required before a wedding?

Once you have appointed your Celebrant, it is necessary to process the initial “Notice of Intended Marriage” at the very least more than one month prior to the wedding date.

This rule can only be waived in a few very specific circumstances.

Accordingly, I think that it is wise to produce the initial substantiation documentation which is required to lodge your notice with your chosen Celebrant as soon as practicable.

What wedding paperwork needs to be lodged?

For a wedding or elopement, you will be required to complete several documents prior to, and at, the ceremony.

The “Notice of Intended Marriage” allows a time window to marry between one and 18 months after its completion and lodgement with your chosen Civil Celebrant. This “Notice of Intended Marriage” requires production of original documentation confirming both parties’ (i) identity, (ii) date and place of birth and, if applicable, (iii) evidence of the end of their most recent previous marriage. These required documents are detailed in the answer to the next question. All subsequent forms are derived from the exact details entered into this initial “Notice of Intended Marriage”. This form is best completed in the presence of your chosen Civil Celebrant, who can also serve to witness your signatures.

The second document, called “Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage” must be signed by you and witnessed by your officiating Civil Celebrant within the few days prior to the ceremony. This is therefore often completed at the wedding rehearsal.

At the end of the ceremony itself, three pre-printed “Official Certificate of Marriage” are signed by both parties, their two chosen witnesses and the Celebrant. These are then distributed to (i) the couple; (ii) the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and also (iii) the presiding Civil Celebrant.

Once we agree to proceed with your ceremony, I will provide you with password access to these and other items in an exclusive library of legal and information documents.

What documents must we produce before a wedding or elopement?

The necessary original documents that each of you are required to produce to be sighted by your Celebrant are as follows…

(i) Birth Details:

ONE OF… Birth Certificate (or extract)    

OR Passport (NOT cancelled; recently expired is OK; NAATI ( naati.com.au ) accredited translation into English, if required)

(ii) Photo ID:

ONE OF… Passport (NOT cancelled; recently expired is OK; NAATI ( naati.com.au ) accredited translation into English, if required)  

OR Current Driver’s Licence (NOT expired)  

OR Proof/Evidence of Age Card  

OR Certificate of Australian Citizenship (PLUS any current photo ID)

(iii) (Most Recent) Previous Marriage: (if applicable)

Absolute (final) Divorce Certificate (You can access yours here)

OR Death Certificate

The Celebrant must sight the above original documents or can otherwise receive the following in electronic form – including email or text messaging of a scanned or photographed image of the document.

“Notice of Intended Marriage”

Passport (scanned original)

Birth Certificate (scanned original)

Divorce Certificate (scanned original or certified copy)

Commonwealth Statutory Declaration (scanned original signed in pen)

What services do you offer for my wedding ceremony?

At an absolute minimum, you will receive these inclusions for your wedding or elopement ceremony…

free, no-obligation initial meeting

verification of original identity documents

preparation, witnessing and lodgement of legal paperwork with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages

inclusion of compliance requirements and legally mandated language within the ceremony

solemnisation of a legally valid and recognised marriage

unlimited contact via telephone, Skype, Zoom, VOIP and/or email

use of lectern, signing pen and signing table & chairs

compliance with Code of Practice of the federal Attorney-General’s Department

compliance with Best Practice of the professional association Australian Marriage Celebrants Inc

attire and presentation consistent with expectations, venue and guests

fixed-price guarantee on adherence to an agreed written Service Agreement

included mileage

presentation marriage certificate

 

To augment the above fundamental services, the following options can be provided to varying degrees as defined in my various wedding and elopement packages and as mutually agreed…

comprehensive personalisation and collaboration in ceremony design

professional PA system, including speaker and wireless microphones

advice on and design of rituals, readings and any other ceremony component as appropriate

advice on preparation of music files as required for performance during ceremony

wedding rehearsal if required, at no additional cost

personal and/or online meetings

availability on weekends, after-hours as well as peak and off-peak periods

return travel (ex Hepburn Springs) to meetings, rehearsal and ceremony anywhere in Australia

accommodation and any other incidental costs

application for the optional Registry’s official marriage certificate, including direct Express Post delivery

discount voucher for a popular name change service if required

date exclusivity

souvenir script as a keepsake

exclusive access to online resource library of legal and information documents

provision of official letters to support applications for visas or waiver of one month waiting period

couple wellbeing package

Can religious content be included in a civil ceremony?

Currently, nearly 80% of Australian weddings and elopements ceremonies are civil.

This means that they are lay, secular or, essentially, non-religious.

Like all content of your ceremony, your preferences will be respected and may be included.

So there can be some religious references as is appropriate in the context of an essentially civil ceremony officiated by a Civil Celebrant.

Is a rehearsal really necessary?

For any ceremony beyond a “Legals Only” elopement, I highly recommend a rehearsal so that we are all confident in how the ceremony progresses.

It’s really more about the ‘choreography’ of our movements and positioning during the ceremony.

The actual words are usually, and most efficiently, agreed via email well prior to the ceremony date.

Rehearsals can also serve to help settle any last-minute nerves.

Do we have to attend a marriage education course?

These courses are not compulsory when you utilise the services of a Civil Celebrant.

As it is a question that sometimes arises, I have attended a marriage education course so that I can better answer such questions from my own first-hand experience.

If you do want to attend a course, I am happy to suggest some options which are convenient to you.

Will getting married change my name?

No, getting married does not automatically impact your name.

Once you are married, one or both of you may wish to change your surname.

There are many resources available online to help you with changing your name, including some name-change kits you can purchase. In fact, some of my wedding package prices include a discount voucher for a popular kit.

Many newly married people use their married name in social circles but keep their birth name on official documentation or for professional purposes.

Both or either party can change their name after marriage. There are several options available to both parties. The Australian Passport Office says:

“The parties may choose one of the following family name options on a passport due to marriage:

  • Retain your existing family name
  • Adopt your spouse’s family name
  • Adopt of combination of your family name and your spouse’s family name with or without hyphens.

For example if Lisa Smith marries Tom Jones, her name after marriage could be:

  • Lisa Smith
  • Lisa Jones
  • Lisa Smith Jones
  • Lisa Jones Smith
  • Lisa Smith-Jones
  • Lisa Jones-Smith.”

I am happy to provide more information on this topic if required.

Will marriage affect my Will?

Yes, Wills are generally invalidated upon marriage.

Thus, I believe that Wills are particularly important to be considered before marriage.

I will provide a brochure which contains some useful information on this and other implications useful in your marriage preparation.

What are your formal qualifications?

Beyond achieving the Certificate IV in Celebrancy, as a Commonwealth-Registered Marriage Celebrant I have successfully completed the federal Attorney-General’s rigorous legal knowledge, academic qualification and background character checking requirements.

Annual re-registration necessitates Code of Practice compliance and further mandatory Ongoing Professional Development education and assessment every year.

I am also an active member of the professional association Australian Marriage Celebrants Inc.

Overall, I am confident that I can accurately guide you through the necessary legal as well as creative processes. And I’ll do my best to dilute any possible nerves or stress along the way!

As well as formal qualifications, I offer a wealth of life experience, empathy and sensitivity.

Got more questions? Let’s chat!