A Spontaneous Wedding? Yes you can

 
by Jennifer Cram (29/09/2019)  |  Categories:  | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Legals | Wedding Planning | Two gold wedding rings with the words Lets do
                  our I Dos todayDo you love doing things on the spur of the moment? Does that whole "Let's get married, NOW" vibe appeal to you? No big wedding, just running away, perhaps in secret, and doing it without any fuss and bother?  Well there's good news and bad news on that one!


The Bad News

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First, the bad news. Unless you decide to run away to Vegas, of course.  But with flight bookings, passports, ESTA visa waiver applications, organising currency etc, that's hardly a spur of the moment decision or experience.

Looking on the bright side, the bad news isn't really bad news. It is just that there are a couple of rules the Marriage Act says you must follow if you want to be legally married in Australia.
  • You must give formal notice t least one full calendar month before the ceremony
  • You must give that notice, on the official form, properly signed and witnessed, to your chosen celebrant
Which generally means you need to have picked a date, time, and place for your wedding well ahead.

The Good News

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A Spontaneous Elopement is a great way to avoid stress, get rid of wedding planning, and do the deed in secret if you wish. It is also a great way to make sure that any guests you do have are super-excited about the whole thing. So the Good News is that there is nothing in the Marriage Act that prevents you from giving notice before you've decided on your wedding date, or before you've told anyone, other than your celebrant, that you are planning to marry. The month's notice is calculated backwards from the wedding date (that is, everyone, including your celebrant and Births, Deaths, and Marriages when they are registering your marriage, will check that your Notice of Intended Marriage was lodged with your celebrant no less than a full calendar month before the ceremony). So once you've passed that date you can be legally married on any day for the next 17 months.

Which basically means that having your date locked in in your celebrant's diary is a matter of custom and convenience. Doing it that way also makes sure that anyone you want to invite to your wedding will have the date locked into their diaries too.

But if you're a spontaneous couple, and you basically just want to elope with no guests, or perhaps with a few guests who you know will be up for a last minute text, locking in a date months ahead isn't required.

There is one legal proviso, though. Both of you must be in on the decision about when and where.

How to have a Spontaneous Wedding

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  • Give notice
  • Make some decisions about ceremony style, content, and your vows, so that I can have a ceremony prepared. However, if you just want to go off-the-cuff, that's fine too
  • Go with the flow until it feels right
  • Make the decision together
  • Be flexible about time (I might have a wedding already booked in that we need to work around)
  • Give me a few hours to print the certificates, get my lippy on, and make my way to where you are going to say your I Dos. But if you would rather go for a few days ahead, that's fine too.

What will you be expected to do in the ceremony?

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The same (minimal) legal stuff that has to happen in any marriage ceremony, regardless of how far ahead it is planned. I have to say some words from the Marriage Act that explain I'm authorised to solemnise your marriage. I have to recite the legal definition of Marriage in Australia, and you have to each say to each other the legal words that will create your marriage.

Rings?

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Of course, if you have them and want to exchange them. But if not, not a hassle. It is not a legal requirement to have rings. You'll be just as married without them.

What about Witnesses

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Yes, those too. That is two. You can tell them you're getting married when you ask them. You can invite them to come with you or meet you there on some pretext or other. Or we can just find a couple of strangers willing to be your witnesses.  I've never had anyone knock back that request!

Spontaneous weddings can be great fun. I've officiated a few and loved every one. Talk to me about it!

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