MARRIAGE: Rings are commonly exchanged as a symbol of commitment during a wedding ceremony.
MARRIAGE: Rings are commonly exchanged as a symbol of commitment during a wedding ceremony. PatrickWoods

A (gay) guide to getting married in Australia

THE celebrations are over, Parliament is trying to fine-tune a bill that makes everyone happy and, in the process of it all, you proposed to your partner and, of course, they said, yes.

And now both of you want to get hitched, and pronto.

But how do you actually get married in Australia?

Hoping that, as soon as the law is passed, the process itself should not change much, this is the information gay (and straight) couples will need to get married.

According to the Attorney General's Department, to be legally married in Australia, a couple must not be married to someone else; not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister; be at least 18 years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old; understand what marriage means and freely consent to becoming a married couple, use specific words during the ceremony and give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame.

So first you will need to chose a celebrant.

Marriage celebrant Alison Mackay has been marrying Byron Shire and Ballina couples since 2004.

Ms Mackay currently offers same-sex 'commitment ceremonies' and she has performed one or two a year.

"I am excited and happy about the upcoming change in the law," she said.

"I expect the number of same-sex couples wanting to get marred to increase initially, but then I think it will be the same as all other couples."

Important paperwork

A completed Notice of Intended Marriage form must be given to your celebrant at least one month before the wedding.

You can give it to your celebrant up to 18 months beforehand.

Your celebrant can help you complete the form, and the notice may be completed and witnessed outside Australia if required.

Ms Mackay said this provision was to avoid people marrying in a hurry.

"It's so that people don't make rushed decisions when they are drunk, for instance," she explained.

"You can't just decide to get married and get it done on the day, I think they will keep that."

Talk to your celebrant if there is less than one month before your wedding. A prescribed authority may approve a shorter notice time in some limited circumstances.

You will also need to give your celebrant evidence of date and place of birth, identity and the end of any previous marriages for each party.

Your celebrant may also ask you to complete a statutory declaration to support your evidence.

"I usually meet couples a day before the wedding and they sign the statutory declaration saying there is no reason why they cannot marry each other, so for example, they are not married to somebody else," Ms Mackay said.

"The celebrant will have to see divorce papers if they have been married before."

After you are married

On the day of the wedding, you will sign three marriage certificates.

Each certificate should be signed by each of the parties, the celebrant and two witnesses.

The celebrant will give each party one of the certificates as a record of the marriage.

The celebrant must register the marriage with the Registry Of Births, Deaths And Marriages in NSW within 14 days.

What will change

Ms Mackay said a couple of things will definitely change in terms of the marriage ceremony.

"There are some legal sentences that we have to say," she explained.

"We have to say 'marriage according to law in Australia is a union of a man and a woman, with exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life' so that will change, obviously.

"And then at the end of the ceremony we have to declare them husband and wife, so presumably that will change as well, but we don't know yet what will they change the wording to."

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