You may have seen the information
data- that, after a couple marries, the celebrant
must submit the marriage papers and details of the
marriage to Births, Deaths and Marriages in the
State or Territory in which the couple had their
This is not something to panic about!
Submitting the details in a timely fashion so that
the marriage can be registered is part of the
celebrant's obligations under the Marriage Act, but,
if the celebrant drops the ball and forgets to
submit, or submits late, it does not cancel your
What makes you married
What creates your marriage is what happens before
and what happens during your
- Before the wedding the Marriage Act requires
- Complete and lodge a Notice of Intended
Marriage with your celebrant. It is valid for
18 months from the date of lodging
- Show your celebrant documentary proof of who
you are and, if you've ever been married
before, that you are now free to marry again
- Sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment
- During the wedding the Marriage Act requires
your celebrant to recite the Monitum, and also
requires you to say the legal vows.
Once you have said those vows, you are legally
So, signing the certificates afterwards just
documents that the marriage has taken place in
front of two witnesses and your celebrant.
Why must the celebrant
submit your marriage details to BDM?
Births, Deaths, and Marriages adds the details of
your legal marriage to the register of marriages
that have taken place in your state or territory.
In order to register your marriage, BDM must know it
took place. So your celebrant is required to send
the information in, and we are given 14 days to do
so in order that that might happen promptly.
What happens if the
celebrant fails to submit?
The obvious thing is that your marriage won't be
registered, and BDM will have no record that it took
place. But you will have the certificate that was
given to you on the day. If you flip it over and
read what it says on the back it confirms that it is
a legal document that is proof that the marriage has
taken place. Worst case scenario you might have to
use it to prove that the marriage took place so that
BDM can chase up your slack celebrant.
Can you complain?
Of course you can. You can lodge a formal complaint
with the Attorney-General's Department in Canberra.
This department oversees marriage celebrants and
will follow up complaints from a couple where the
celebrant has failed in their statutory duty. Not
submitting is a fail!
If you were married in a religious ceremony, you
lodge your complaint with The Registry Office in
your state or territory because they are the people
who oversee clergy in relation to the legal aspects
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the celebrant's fail doesn't
cancel or invalidate your marriage. You are married.
But you might have to go through some pain to prove
that your marriage took place. This is where your
two witnesses and your Form 15 certificate, plus any
videos and photos will prove invaluable.
Thanks for reading!