I Won't Judge You or Your Choices
(unless the Law makes me do so)

 
by Jennifer Cram (12/11/2019)  |  Categories:  | Celebrant| Wedding Legals |
Statue of Lady Justicia
                    holding the scales of justice
Something that is often said to me when I'm talking to couples is "Please don't judge us/me, but ...." And one of the great fears that couples have when planning their wedding is that they'll be judged for their choices. So let's talk about this.

There are some things which the law, and my obligations under the law as a Marriage Celebrant, requires me to make judgements on. But there are many things that people fear being judged about that I definitely don't and won't judge you for .....

What the Law requires me to make judgements about

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The Marriage Act is very clear cut on certain things, removing any need for a celebrant to make judgements about
  • Are you old enough to get married?
    Your birth certificate or passport answers that questions. You have to be 18 to get married without a court order
  • Are you free to get married?
    If you've ever been married before you have to show your celebrant proof of how that marriage ended. No proof (i.e. certificate), no wedding
  • Can you prove who you are by producing original official documents?
But there are a number of other things that a celebrant is required to make judgements about, and to use their own conclusions to decide whether going ahead with the wedding is within the law
  • Are you marrying freely and willingly?
    Forced marriage is a crime. So, if at any time during the period leading up to the ceremony, and during the ceremony itself, I have any doubts at all that you are doing this of your own free will, bearing in mind that while you may be physically forced into the marriage (which would be pretty obvious I would think), you could also be tricked into it, or psychologically coerced into it by threats, community pressure, family pressure, or pressure from the person you are marrying), the law requires that I refuse to solemnise the marriage. I have only had to do this once, and it was not a comfortable experience, but if I had continued I would have been committing a serious offence.
  • Are you mentally competent to make the decision to marry?
    In other words, do you understand what marriage is and that you are getting married if you go ahead? Obvious issues are dementia and other conditions where the brain, and therefore the capacity to understand and make decisions are compromised. But there is also being under the influence of substances, alcohol, drugs, medications, legal or otherwise. Again, your celebrant is required to make a judgement and refuse to go ahead if there is any doubt whatsoever.
  • Is this a genuine marriage?
    Sham/scam marriages for the purpose of obtaining a visa are illegal, so I can't have anything to do with such a marriage.
  • Are your witnesses old enough to witness your marriage?
    Your legal witnesses must be adults. Oddly enough, witnesses to a marriage in Australia are not required to produce ID. But if you look under 18 to the celebrant, unless you can prove you are an adult, you can't be a witness. So yes, you might be carded at a wedding!

What I definitely won't judge you for

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There is a very long list of things I won't judge you for ... but here are some of the more common things people have been concerned they might be judged for
  • How old/young you are (as long as you are at least 18)
  • Your gender, your sexuality, or who you are marrying
  • Your abilities or disabilities
  • Where you were born, or the method by which you traveled to Australia,if born overseas
  • Your race
  • Your religious or spiritual beliefs (whether or not you have any)
  • How you met
    I still get the odd couple tell me, very tentatively, that they met on Tinder. Not my business, and you definitely won't be the first to have met online, or at work, or even when you were in a relationship with someone else.
  • Whether you've been married before
  • Your visa status
    Actually, unless helping you meet the requirements of a fiance visa application, your visa status is totally irrelevant
  • What your job is
  • Whether you are currently living together or not
  • Whether you have children together or not
  • What you are planning to wear at your wedding
  • Tattoos, piercings, hair styles, etc
  • What your wedding budget is

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you can
                    have the best ceremony ever