Religious and secular marriage ceremonies

Introduction

Since the commencement of Part 6 of the Civil Registration Act 2007 in November 2007, to legally marry you require a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) from a Registrar and whoever is solemnising your marriage must be on the Register of Solemnisers. The Registrar issues the MRF when you give your 3 month notification to the Registrar.

Rules

If you are intend getting married by religious or secular ceremony, you should approach the authorities of the body concerned for advice on how to proceed. You will be told what requirements that body has in order to get married under their rites.

While a marriage ceremony can be performed according to the customs and rites of the body, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for the marriage to be legal.

Register of Solemnisers

The person solemnising the marriage must be on the Register of Solemnisers (pdf) which is maintained by the General Registrar. It lists both civil registrars and the members of the various religious and secular bodies who have been nominated by the bodies as solemnisers. It is available for inspection at your local registration office.

Witnesses

The ceremony must be performed in the presence of two witnesses aged 18 or over.

Marriage Registration Form

If you fulfill the 3 months notification requirements and there is no impediment to you getting married, the Registrar will issue you with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) giving you permission to marry. You should give the MRF to the person who will be solemnising the marriage in advance of the marriage ceremony.

Immediately after the marriage ceremony, the MRF should be signed by you and your spouse, the two witnesses and the person who has solemnised the marriage. The MRF should be returned within one month to a Registrar, for the marriage to be registered. It does not have to be returned to the Registrar who issued it.

Marriage Ceremony

While the marriage ceremony can be performed according to the customs and rites of the religious or secular body, as part of the ceremony you and your intended spouse must make two declarations:

  • That you do not know of any impediment to the marriage
  • That you accept each other as husband and wife

The venue for the ceremony is a matter for the body. According to the legislation the place where the solemnisation takes place must be open to the public. This means that access to the venue for the general public must be unrestricted.

Interpretive Services

If either you, your intended spouse, either of the two witness or the solemniser does not have sufficient knowledge of the language in which the ceremony is being held to understand the ceremony, then the services of an interpreter must be provided. It is your responsibility to provide the services.

Page edited: 7 February 2013