| Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Legals
no-one is going to breathalyse you on the day
(unless you're driving and you are stopped for a
random breath test) you need to be very aware that
nothing can derail your wedding faster than turning
up drunk, or under the influence of other
substances, including prescribed medications.
Because marriage involves a change in legal status,
that affects a wide range of legal matters,
including who your next of kin is, who is entitled
to inherit your estate, or who you are entitled to
inherit from (Succession Laws), it is viewed very
seriously, as is your consent at every part of the
process. Anything that might compromise your
capacity to give real consent
, or that might
be argued to have done so, can call the legality of
your marriage into question.
What is Real Consent?
Real consent basically means that you
voluntarily and freely consent to your marriage, and
that you are mentally capable of doing so. So it
includes, but is not limited to:
- Each of the marrying couple giving accurate
information on the Notice of Intended Marriage.
- Each of the marrying couple understanding the
implications of a marriage solemnised in
- Each of the marrying couple understanding what
is going on in the ceremony and consenting to
marrying each other. You must both be able to
understand the ceremony itself and the
explanations about the documents you are
signing, including the declarations before the
ceremony and the certificates afterwards
Why is being sober
So that there is no question about your
consent being real, you must not be affected by
drugs or alcohol. If I, as your celebrant, have any
reason to believe that you may be affected by either
it is against the law for me to continue with the
What does that mean in
practical terms for your wedding?
Though it is not unusual for members of the
wedding party, including the marrying couple, to
have a few drinks while getting ready. One or two is
fine. As long as you are legally good to drive, then
we can assume that you will be capable of giving
But what if you're over the limit? Seriously? Being
drunk, or under the influence of some legal
medications, or a whole long list of illegal
substances, generally means that you are too
affected to be deemed to be capable of giving real
consent. And here's the interesting bit. The person
who makes the decision is the celebrant. No
breathalyser, no blood test, just my assessment of
the situation. And, don't think that just because
you're there, the celebrant has to marry you.
Definitely not. In fact, quite the opposite.
Your celebrant is required by law to ensure that
your consent is real, so if there is even a whisper
of a doubt we are instructed to refuse to solemnise
a legal marriage. And the Attorney-General always
backs the celebrant in cases like this.
What if you are taking a
heavy-duty prescribed medication?
Sadly, there are cases where someone
getting married is terminally ill and taking
pain-killers. In situations like that all that is
needed is a certificate from your treating doctor
that makes it clear that, despite the medication,
you are capable of making decisions and giving
At every stage of the
While, the focus of most is usually on the
ceremony, the requirement for consent is that it
must be real at every stage of the process
So, lest anyone challenge the legality of your
marriage on grounds of consent, it is also a very
bad idea to:
- consume alcohol before or while you are
signing and lodging your Notice of Intended
Marriage, or be under the influence of any
substance, legal or otherwise, while doing so
- consume alcohol or be under the influence of
any substance, legal or otherwise while making
and signing your Declaration of No Legal
Impediment to Marriage
So I will never meet you in a bar to sign either
of those documents!
Thanks for reading!