Privacy and You, Your Wedding, Your Marriage

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (04/11/2018)
Categories: | Wedding Legals |
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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 only your celebrant and the two of you need to know you’re getting married until just before the ceremony starts. It is perfectly legal not to tell your witnesses until just before the ceremony starts. Even more unusual, no government department needs to be notified that you plan to get married before you get married (unless, of course, a fiance visa is involved, but that's an immigration issue, not a marriage issue as such).

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 takes 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. Or they just don't want to put their lives out there for anyone and everyone to see.

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.

What does that mean in practical terms?

It means celebrants 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. What this means is that
  • Any copies of ID documents (birth records, divorce certificates, etc) whether a photocopy or a scan, must be stored securely and returned or destroyed once no longer needed.
  • A celebrant cannot, without your permission, pass information about you to anyone else. Which means a celebrant must not have someone else ghost-write all or part of your ceremony, post information about you on closed forums, or pass information on to the Attorney-General's Department without being in breach of the privacy provisions of the Code of Practice and/or state/territory and federal Privacy legislation.
But it also means that no-one 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 that is 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.

Thanks for reading!

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