Privacy and You, Your Wedding, Your Marriage

by Jennifer Cram (04/11/2018)  | Categories: | Wedding Legals |
Private SignAustralia is unusual in that, we treat all civil marriages as highly confidential. You can get married on private property, behind closed doors, and other than the celebrant, and the two of you, no other person needs to know you’re getting married, until just before the ceremony starts (because you need two adult witnesses). Even more unusual, no government department needs to know that you planned to get married until after you are actually married.

The exception is if you are getting married in church. Your banns of marriage will be announced from the pulpit on three successive Sundays leading up to your wedding.

In other countries, your privacy is much less protected. In most, some time before the ceremony Review of Jennifer Cram, Brisbane Marriage
                      Celebranttakes place – anything from several months to several days or hours – you have to go to a government office, provide documentary proof of who you are, and apply for a licence or lodge notice. In some, your names are posted on publicly accessible noticeboards. Privacy Acts, and privacy protocols observed by Registries of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages, give couples marrying in Australia a great deal of protection. So no details of your marriage are available to the public before your marriage, and afterwards, no-one other than yourselves, , with a few tightly controlled exceptions,  is allowed to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate until your 75th wedding anniversary.

If you’ve ever wondered what my reasons are for rarely posting photos of the couple, or mention their names, even though I’ve officiated well over 800 legal marriages, let me explain.

I have three reasons. The personal reason is that many of my couples need to control the amount of personal information about them is out there. One or both may work in an occupation where their security is a concern, one or both may be public figures, or there are family dynamics that are an issue.

The  professional reason is that, the Code of Practice, which all authorised marriage celebrants have to adhere to, requires that we celebrants preserve your privacy. In part, that means we have to be careful about the information we collect from you, and how we store our records and dispose of drafts and copies of your documents. But it also means that no celebrant should be posting identifying information about you on social media without your written permission. With facial recognition software becoming so prevalent, my take on that includes photographs, even without full names attached.

And the legal reason is that privacy is a legal issue apart from copyright. So even if someone other than the couple owns the copyright to a photograph, privacy is privacy and is protected by both state and federal law.