If you are having a civil or religious ceremony
If you’re planning a civil or religious wedding ceremony, find information on types of ceremonies and marriage celebrants, and what paperwork you’ll need.
If you are planning a civil or religious ceremony, you will need to organise the details of the wedding day yourself. This includes the venue and celebrant.
Submit a notice of intended marriage form to your celebrant at least 1 month before you intend to marry.
Types of wedding ceremonies
A civil ceremony is a non-religious ceremony and is conducted by a non-religious celebrant.
If you’ve decided to have a civil ceremony, you can get married almost anywhere.
Popular locations include:
- parks and botanical gardens
- national parks
- national trust properties
- in your own home
You usually need permission to get married in a public place such as a beach or park. Check with the council or organisation that manages the venue.
You can also choose to get married in a civil ceremony by a local court registrar. These types of ceremonies are usually held at the local court house.
The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages also performs civil ceremonies. This includes registry weddings and micro weddings.
A religious wedding ceremony is conducted by a minister of religion or a religious celebrant. It’s generally held in a church, chapel or other religious venue.
Depending on the religion, you may need to:
- be of that same religion
- have a connection to that place of worship
- attend marriage classes before you get married
Talk to the minister of the religious venue to confirm what is required.
Find a celebrant
If you’re having a civil ceremony, you’ll need to choose a non-religious marriage celebrant.
If you’re getting married in a place of worship, the minister will often perform the ceremony.
Not all ministers are authorised to perform marriages, so it’s important to discuss your options with the church or other place of worship where you want to get married.
Ministers of religion and religious marriage celebrants can refuse to perform a marriage ceremony that does not align with their religious beliefs. This can include same sex marriages.
Learn more about the different types of celebrants and what to consider when choosing a marriage celebrant.
Declare your intent to marry
Submit the notice of intended marriage (PDF 883.06KB) to your celebrant at least 1 month before the date you plan to marry. It’s valid for 18 months.
On the form you should generally use the name that:
- is on your birth certificate, or
- the name that is on your change of name certificate, if you have changed your name
If you’ve already changed your surname from a previous marriage:
- use that name on the form, if you’ve kept your previous spouse’s surname
- use your original name on the form, if you’ve reverted back to it and have proof of that name, such as photo identification
Talk to your celebrant if there’s a reason that you cannot use the name on either of these documents.
Provide supporting documents
Any foreign language certificates and documents must be officially translated into English.
When submitting the notice of intended marriage, you’ll need to show the celebrant:
- an official birth certificate or passport
- other current photo ID, if passport not provided
If either of you have been previously married, you must also provide a:
- divorce certificate, if divorced
- death certificate, if widowed
If one of you is aged between 16 and 18, you will need to provide proof that you have the appropriate permissions for the marriage.
If you want to get married in less than 1 month
In some circumstances, you can apply to a prescribed authority for an exemption to the 1-month rule because of:
- employment related or other travel commitments
- wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations
- medical reasons
- legal proceedings
- an error in giving notice
You may need to provide proof and pay an application fee.
Talk to your marriage celebrant if you want to apply for an exemption to get married in less than 1 month.
Arrange for witnesses
You are legally required to have at least 2 guests at your wedding to witness and sign the marriage certificate.
If possible, you should know the witnesses, as their evidence can be used to:
- establish the identity of the couple who were married
- testify to the circumstances in which the ceremony was performed
Your witnesses need to:
- be 18 years or older
- speak and understand English
What happens on the day
Before the marriage ceremony, your celebrant will ask both of you to sign a declaration that there are no legal reasons preventing you from getting married.
During the ceremony:
- your celebrant will say certain words required by law that make the marriage legal
- vows are exchanged and you may also exchange wedding rings
- you, your celebrant, and your witnesses will sign 3 copies of the ceremonial certificate and official certificate of marriage. You'll receive your ceremonial certificate on the day
Your celebrant will then register the marriage with the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state or territory where you got married.
Need to change your surname?
You’ll need an official marriage certificate to change your name after getting married. This is different to the ceremonial certificate you receive on the day of your wedding.