What's a Legals Only Wedding?

by Jennifer Cram (28/01/2020)  |  Categories: |Wedding Ceremony| Wedding Legals |

                      Register on table with candlesEvery couple marrying in Australia has to tick quite a few boxes to meet the legal requirements specified in the Marriage Act. Regardless of whether you're having a very large formal wedding, or a very small and informal one, you still have to meet legal requirements before the ceremony can take place.

You have to give notice.

You have to sign declarations of no legal impediment to the         marriage

And you have to provide documentary evidence of your identity and that you are free to marry (if you've been married before).

So you might be wondering what those Legals Only weddings you've seen advertised are. Simply put, Legals Only is marriage celebrant speak/shorthand for the bare minimum ceremony as required by the Marriage Act. Which implies that there is no ceremony to be prepared.  I call these ceremonies Married in a MinuteTM because that's exactly how long the minimum legal requirements for the ceremony take. You might also see Paperwork Only ceremonies advertised. But that's misleading as no legal marriage in Australia can happen with spoken word in addition to the paperwork.

All that has to happen is that
  • The five of us gather together (celebrant, marrying couple, two adult witnesses)
  • I recite the passage from the Marriage Act that must be said before you say your vows
I, Jennifer Cram, am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.
Before you are joined together in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
You each, individually, than must make the statement that creates the contract of marriage between you.
I ask everyone here to witness that I, NAME, take you, NAME, to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse/partner-in-marriage.
At that point, you are legally married. And we sign the Marriage Register, the two certificates, I give you the certificate that has the Australian Coat of Arms on it.

And that's it. You are legally married, and all that remains to be done is for me to submit your marriage details to Births, Deaths, and Marriages so that your marriage can be registered.

But ...


Most couples who choose to have a bare minimum ceremony actually want to include a bit more. So I think of Legals Only ceremonies as Married in a MinuteTM Plus.
  • Would you like to exchange rings? No problem
  • Would you like to add a few words to the legal vows, or make some personal promises? No problem
  • Would you like to add a very simple handfasting (usually instead of rings, but can be as well as). No problem
  • Would you like to have guests in addition to your two witnesses. Not a problem
None of these things requires a lot of preparation, but they do add a great deal to the feel of the ceremony.

Why choose to have a Legals Only type ceremony?


  • It may be that you are a no-fuss couple who just want to change your legal status with the minimum fuss and preparation.
  • It might be that you are having a traditional cultural ceremony  - either in Australia or overseas -that doesn't create a legal marriage.
  • It might be that you are having a symbolic ceremony overseas but want your marriage to be registered in Australia.
Actually, there can be a long list of possible reasons, all of them legitimate. You don't have to explain yourselves!
Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                      can have the best ceremony ever