Who  can  solemnise  a  marriage?

Marriages to be solemnised by authorised celebrant. A marriage shall be solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant who is authorised to solemnise marriages at the place where the marriage takes place.” — Section 41 of the Marriage Act 1961.

The options for marriage in Australia are plentiful. Couples can choose to have a ceremony solemnised by a Minister of Religion or a religious celebrant authorised to perform marriages in Australia — or a ceremony conducted by a registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, using whatever elements the bride and groom wish, to create anything from a simple traditional wedding to an elaborate tour de force!

Couples may want a short-and-quick (yet meaningful) ceremony with the minimum legal wording - or they may want something personalised and specially written. Because so many elements in a marriage ceremony are optional (apart from the minimum legal wording), many couples today are opting to have a very special, vibrant and personally significant ceremony - one that is specifically tailored for their own joyous day. The important factor here is choice.

The only persons able to legally solemnise marriages in Australia are authorised marriage celebrants under the Marriage Act 1961. They are approved by the Attorney-General's department, and are thoroughly familiar with the Marriage Act 1961 and the Marriage Regulations 1963, as well as laws and regulations that may impact on a marriage ceremony. All authorised marriage celebrants are included in the register of marriage celebrants or the list of authorised marriage celebrants.

Be aware that a civil celebrant is not the same thing as an authorised civil marriage celebrant. A civil celebrant is not able to conduct marriages.

The legal and other obligations of a marriage celebrant cannot be performed by anyone but an authorised celebrant. It is an offence for someone to perform this function of solemnisation of a marriage without being authorised to do so.

  • §101 (Marriage Act 1961)     Solemnisation of marriage by unauthorised person
    A person shall not solemnise a marriage, or purport to solemnise a marriage, at a place in Australia or under Part V unless the person is authorised by or under this Act to solemnise marriages at that place or under that Part, as the case may be.
    Penalty: $500 or imprisonment for 6 months.
  • §103 (Marriage Act 1961)     Going through ceremony of marriage before person not authorised to solemnise it
    A person shall not go through a form or ceremony of marriage with another person knowing that the person solemnising the marriage is not authorised to solemnise it and having reason to believe that the other party to the marriage believes that the person solemnising the marriage is so authorised.
    Penalty: $500 or imprisonment for 6 months.





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Ingrid Heyn, wedding celebrant