Frequently Asked Wedding Questions
Often the same questions come up from couples wanting to get married so I have answered some of the common ones in this frequently asked wedding questions list. But it's by no means exhaustive, so please get in touch if you have other questions you'd like answers to!
1. Where and when can we get married?
I can marry you anywhere in Australia, on any day, at any time. If you're going for somewhere outdoors like a park or beach, check with the local council as there is often a booking process and fee to pay. And make sure you have a Plan B in case of rain, or heatwave.
2. How much notice do we have to give?
At least one month before your wedding day and no more than 18 months ahead. Allow enough time to get everything together for your Notice of Intended Marriage - you might need to apply for a copy of your birth certificate or apply for suitable ID, which can take time.
3. What documents do I need to show you?
Just your passport. If you don't have one, you can show me your birth certificate and photo ID, such as a driver's licence.
4. What if I've been married before?
I'll need to see your final divorce certificate. If you're still married on your wedding day, we're all going to jail!
5. What if my documents are not in English?
Lokho akuyona inkinga. ("No worries" in Zulu in case you're wondering). They will need to be translated. The Marriage Act 1961 stipulates they must be translated by an official NAATI translator. Again, I can help you arrange this if required.
6. I'm not an Australian citizen. Can I still get married here?
Yes. There is no requirement for you to be a citizen, and there is no minimum residency period either. Welcome to Australia!
7. We live overseas and want to come to Australia to marry. Is that possible?
Yes. I have married many couples from overseas who have come to Australia just to get married. In this case there are special arrangements to lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage in your home country. I provide full instructions! If you live overseas, we conduct our pre-wedding meetings via Skype video calls.
8. Is our marriage legal outside of Australia?
Yes. Australian marriages are legally recognised overseas. But double check with your home country if you're unsure! I can only officially advise you of the relevant laws within Australia.
9. Can I get a witness?
You need to nominate two witnesses who are 18 years old or above who will sign your Marriage Certificate following the ceremony. This is a nice job to give to someone important to get them involved in your ceremony.
10. How do I change my name after we're married?
Changing your name is not a legal requirement of marriage, and it is not an automatic process. If you want to change your name, you'll need a full Marriage Certificate issued directly from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Department (which I can help you obtain). Then you'll need to complete a change of name application for your passport, driving licence etc. You need to contact those agencies directly, but it's a well oiled process.
11. Do you have a PA system?
Yes, I always bring my professional PA system with a variety of microphones and inputs for your choice of music. Just tell me what songs you'd like and I look after all of that for you during your ceremony. Karaoke sing-alongs optional.
12. We're not sure where to start - can you help us with ideas?
Of course! That's a big part of my job. I have created a great resource called "Ideas and Inspiration". It contains loads of tips, advice, pointers and help to get you thinking. That will get you thinking along the right lines and prepare you for when we meet to discuss and plan your ceremony in detail.
13. When do we meet to plan our ceremony?
Usually 6 weeks before the wedding date. By that time, you'll have a better idea of how your wedding day will run, you've had time to formulate some firm ideas and your mind is focused on your big day.
14. Can we write our own wedding vows?
Absolutely yes - and I encourage it. That's the point in the ceremony when you're standing in front of your family and friends, telling your partner that you love them, and want to spend the rest of your lives together. These are your own words from the heart which express your love. I can guide and advise you on how best to find those words if you get stuck! It doesn't have to be an essay - most couples keep it to half a dozen short sentences at most. And I give you your vows on a printed card, eliminating any worries about having to remember your words.
15. How long does the ceremony last?
Depending on its complexity - between 20 and 30 minutes maximum. When you're planning your day, allow yourself half an hour from when your bridesmaids walk down the aisle to when everyone is hugging you and saying congratulations.
16. We don't like the part in the Celebrant Authority where you say that "marriage, according to the law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman". Can you leave that bit out?
This is a common question from many of the couples I marry. They are legal words set out in law that cannot be changed. However, we can counter that by following that sentence up with a paragraph expressing your support for Marriage Equality.
17. What time do you arrive on the day?
I arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of the ceremony start time, so I can set up, do my sound checks, and make sure everything is as it should be. It also gives me time to talk to the groom as the guests are arriving, and then greet the bride as she arrives. When you're both ready, we begin!
18. Can you send us a full marriage certificate when our marriage has been registered by Births, Deaths and Marriages?
Yes. You'll need this for name changes. The certificate I give you on the day is still a legal document proving your marriage, but it's largely ceremonial. I can apply to the BDM for the full certificate on your behalf at cost price and have it posted it to you. It's far simpler for me to do it - you avoid yet more form filling.
19. What happens if you're ill?
I have a network of Celebrant friends who I can turn to in case of emergency. They are all of the same style and approach as me, so you'll feel comfortable with them. Read this blog to see the backup plan in action!
20. What do you wear?
I take my cue from each couple but I'm always smart and stylish. Look at my gallery to see how I'm dressed at different weddings!
21. Do we need a rehearsal with you?
Frankly, no. It's unnecessary and there are much more useful ways to spend the time in the lead up to your wedding day. Rest assured, you'll be fully briefed and ready before the day, and we'll have a final recap before the ceremony begins. I'm there to make sure everything runs smoothly! Read more on my rehearsal page.
22. I've got a question you haven't listed here....
Easy - just email me!
Return to Stephen Lee Marriage Celebrant Sydney Homepage