Saying I Do in Secret (it's legal!)

 
by Jennifer Cram (18/09/2019)  |  Categories:  | Wedding Legals | Wedding Planning |
Photo of Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage
                  Celebrant with title 7 Surprising Facts about Marrying
                  in AustraliaGetting married in Australia with a civil celebrant officiating is simple and very easy. It is also perfectly legal to marry in secret. In fact, the way the system is set up puts the control over who you tell and when you tell them almost entirely in your hands.

Marrying in secret is a stress-free way of avoid pressure and conflict in the lead-up to your big day. It is also an effective way to control who you tell you are married, and  how and when you tell them.

You deal directly with your celebrant

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Unlike standard practice in other countries, where a couple has to either apply for a licence to marry at a government office, or give notice of their intention to marry at a government office, in Australia notice is given to the person who will solemnise your marriage.

Your celebrant keeps your Notice until after you are married

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Your celebrant is required to keep your Notice securely until after you are married. It is then submitted to Births, Deaths, and Marriages along with the rest of your marriage papers (signed certificate and Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage) so that your marriage can be registered.

You can be married in a private place

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In Australia there is no requirement that you marry in a public place, or in premises licensed for the purpose of marriage.  You can be married in a private place, such as your own home, behind locked doors in your room or suite in a hotel or B & B, or anywhere else you choose.

Your witnesses do not have to be forewarned

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In addition to your celebrant, you must have two adults present to act as the legal witnesses to your marriage. But they don't need to be forewarned. As long as they are aware they are your witnesses before the ceremony starts, that's legal. So if you want to just keep your plan to marry secret until the last minute, you can invite friends or relatives to join you on a pretext and reveal to them the real reason for them being there a minute or two before the ceremony begins.

Your witnesses can be strangers

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While the Attorney General's Department makes it very clear that your witnesses should be there for you - which is why having your celebrant bring witnesses is frowned on - it is perfectly legal to just ask handy and available adults to fulfil this role. This can include passers-by, staff of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and B & Bs, your photographer, videographer, hair and makeup person, and so on. Witnesses not only confirm that your marriage took place, in the event of a problem they may be called upon to testify. So it is in your interest to avoid having witnesses that may have a conflict of interest because of their prior relationship with the celebrant. If using strangers or staff as your witnesses, don't forget to get and keep their contact details.

Your celebrant is bound by strict privacy conditions

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Without your express permission, your celebrant cannot divulge any identifying information about you and your wedding either before or after you are married. That includes posting photos of you on social media or websites.

PS. Once you are married you will need to tell the Tax Office (on your next tax return) and Centrelink, if relevant, but there is no requirement for you to tell friends, family, or the world.
Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you can
                  have the best ceremony ever