Ad-free news, views and advice on the local wedding scene for Canberra ACT and nearby NSW, and on getting married in Australia in general. With Michele Bolitho, registered civil marriage celebrant for well over one thousand wonderful weddings. ... Your day is my focus. That's my promise. It's my pleasure.

16 May 2017

New post coming soon

Hello, and welcome
Here's a happy little video collage to enjoy before my next post is published. It takes about a minute.

27 March 2017

Three little-known facts about name change with marriage in Australia

Hello, and welcome

Here's the perfect venue for a vintage-style wedding

Brooke and Aidan married
at Albert Hall Yarralumla ACT
11 March 2017

My friends Brooke and Aidan were married this month at the Albert Hall. Brooke looked so beautiful in a vintage-style wedding frock and Aidan looked very fine. The Albert Hall is an excellent venue for setting up your own reception and providing your own catering.
(I also recommend Griffith Neighbourhood Centre.)

I can tell you from personal experience that our grand old Albert Hall has an excellent floor for dancing!

Here are three little known facts about name change with marriage in Australia

Fact One 
Name change for bride or groom, or neither - the choice is yours

Did you know that the Australian marriage Act, even though it goes back to the very conservative time of 1961, has never been gender-specific about name change? It's been traditional in Australian society for a bride to change her family name with marriage, to that of her new husband. The leaflet your celebrant gives you called 'Happily ever before and after' has recently been modified to make it clear to couples that the groom can change his family name with marriage, if he wishes. It's actually been that way since 1961.

Lyn and Mat married in
The Heart Garden
6 March 2017
No one is obliged by law in Australia to change their name with marriage. The bride may choose to take a married name. She may then choose to use either her birth name or her married name, according to the situation. For example, she may use her birth name at work and her married name at her child's school. Likewise for the groom. He may take the bride's surname if he wishes and use it in
circumstances of his choice. In my experience as a celebrant, three husbands have chosen to take their wife's family name as their own.

Bride and groom may decide to join their surnames together to make a composite married name, for example Belle Smith may marry Henry Chan. They may become Mr and Mrs Chan Smith, or maybe Belle and Henry Smith-Chan.

Fact Two
Name change takes place when you make your vows of marriage

Name change takes place when you make your vows of marriage, which is, of course, during your wedding ceremony.

When you make legal marriage vows, this is also the time when your marriage legally comes into effect. In ceremonies I conduct, I always draw this fact to the attention of the bride and groom before their ceremony. I then suggest they focus only on each other when they make their pledges of exclusive and lifelong commitment to each other in marriage.

You'll sign three certificates during or after your ceremony. Your certificates will state that a marriage has already taken place.

When you sign your three certificates, because you will already be legally married, you may already have taken your new married name. All marriage documents however must be signed with your usual signature – not your new one.

Cathy married Matt at Pialligo Estate ACT
The rain stopped, the sun shone and the wind blew.
18 February 2017
The marriage documents include your Notice of Intended Marriage and the Declarations you must sign before your ceremony to declare that there's no legal impediment to your marriage with each other (such as being married to someone else, or being too young to legally marry).

Plus, there are three Certificates of Marriage which you'll sign, either during or after your wedding ceremony. Your celebrant keeps one of these, you take one, and one is sent to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for the registration of your legal marriage. You can then purchase a copy of this certificate from the Registrar.

Fact Three
There are no government forms to fill in for changing your name by way of marriage

If in ordinary circumstances, a person chose to formally change their name, they'd need to apply for a Change of Name Certificate and pay a fee to the Registrar in the state or territory they were born in. (If born overseas, they may also have this option in Australia.) If a person changed their name by way of marriage though, they wouldn't need to do this.

You can begin using your new name straight after your wedding ceremony. Sometimes I call my Heart Garden 'a magic garden'. A bride (or groom, or both) can arrive with one name and leave with another!
Jack and Jordan  receive their Certificate of Marriage
The Heart Garden  Weston ACT 18 March 2017

If you wish to use your married name for an official purpose, you'll need proof of legal name change. You may want to change your name on your licence for instance, or get a new passport. For any purpose like this, you'll need official evidence that you've changed your name with marriage. Here's a link about getting a new passport, which may be cost-free.

From your wedding, you'll take with you, an attractive Certificate of Marriage.

If I'm your celebrant, your certificate will be filled in with the font of your choice. I'll also give you the wording of your ceremony, printed in the same font, on parchment to match your Certificate. They'll both be in a plastic wallet for safe-keeping.

This certificate will be your personal certificate. Even though it's a legal document, you can't use it for official purposes.
Michele presents Martin and Pia with their personal Marriage Certificate
Dickson ACT     25 March 2017
For an Official Certificate of Marriage, you must apply to the Registrar in the state or territory in which you were married. Your official certificate will have a registration number on it. You'll pay a fee to the Registrar. (Currently it's $58 in the ACT.)

You'll probably apply online, or you can apply at a local ACT Access shopfront. They're in Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Woden. Note here that the Births, Deaths and Marriages shopfront in Fyshwick has recently closed.

You can arrange to collect your certificate from Access, or pay an extra eight dollars to have it sent to you by registered post. You'll need to sign for it when it arrives, or sign for it at your local post office.

You can apply for an Official Certificate of Marriage straight after your wedding, or any time after that. The timing is your choice.

Thanks for reading this blogpost. Now you're well-informed about three little-known facts about changing your name with marriage in Australia.

If you'd like me to be celebrant at your own wedding

If you'd like me to be celebrant at your own wedding, I thank you for this privilege. Simple weddings are now my specialty. 'Beautifully simple and simply beautiful'. We have no registry office weddings in the ACT, so marrying couples must choose a private civil celebrant, or a church. (The last Registry Office weddings in Canberra were held about twenty years ago.)

My fee for a simple wedding (to which you can add your own personal vows, if you wish) is $500. This is actually less than the cost of marrying at a registry office on the weekend in NSW.
Autumn colours will soon be happening
in The Heart Garden

Your simple wedding can be any size, at any time, on any day (or evening) in any location of your choice. If you'd like to have a small wedding in my Heart Garden, the maximum number of guests is around ten. Heart Garden weddings are held on weekdays only, beginning at 10.30 in the morning. 4.30 in the afternoon is the latest, probably 3.30 when Daylight Saving ends on Sunday 2 April.

Please contact me using this contact form. Or email me. Or phone or text me, any day between 9am and 9pm on 0406 376 375. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about getting married in Australia, whether you choose me as your celebrant or not. We can arrange a Skype chat if you wish.

If you' like plan to marry as soon as possible, I can help you marry exactly one month from the day of our first contact. There's more information here.

Please note that I only have wedding meetings with couples who have booked me as their celebrant.
If you're planning to marry, I'd be delighted to be there for you both as your celebrant at your simple, but still very special and most memorable, wedding.


31 December 2016

Fathers and daughters, families and friends

Hello, and welcome

In my last blogpost for the year, I usually choose a very special photo. This year it’s an image of my grand-niece Emily who married Matt at the family farm in Green Pigeon (near Kyogle) on September 10 this year. She's standing with stallion, Karnak.
Emily with Karnak
I love this photo because it looks like it came from a fairy tale. Emily and Mat’s wedding was a wonderful country-style celebration, held on a perfect day in a setting that had taken my nephew Damien over a year to prepare. It all came together on the day in a spectacularly successful way.

Here’s to the fathers

One of my most favourite things at weddings is to watch the face of a father as he accompanies his daughter to her wedding. These days, both parents may walk in with the bride, or perhaps another person who is special to the bride. My favourites though are still the fathers, so much so, that when our elder daughter Lucy was being married and she asked if I may like to ‘walk down the aisle’ with her and her Dad in the Rose Gardens at Old Parliament House, I thanked her for the loving thought, but chose to watch the two of them instead.

Here’s a photo of Damien, as he walks in with his Emily. Their photographer Chaddy, has captured exactly the look that I so love to see.
Emily walks along the aisle with her father, Damien
Green Pigeon NSW    10 September 2016
The service I provide

My Simple Service serves a growing need for short simple wedding ceremonies, which I refer to as ‘beautifully simple and simply beautiful’.

Emily and Matt make their vows of marriage
in a simple, heart-felt ceremony
Many couples have always wanted a short simple wedding ceremony. Many others, as I hear these days, have watched friends of theirs as they prepare for a big traditional wedding. Seeing all the stress and drama involved makes their own choice easy. They want their own wedding to be small and simple. That’s where I come in.

There are no Registry Office weddings in the ACT. Many registry-style weddings are held in my garden. It's available on any weekdays, for up to a dozen guests max. You’d be so welcome to hold your small wedding in my tranquil romantic Heart Garden.
Celebrant and Grand Aunt
Michele with Grand Uncle David
at Matt and Emily's wedding.

I’m available as celebrant for simple weddings, of any size, at any time (day or night) on any day (weekday, weekend or public holiday) in any other location you choose.

As from the end of this year, I will no longer offer the full service, in which I help couples craft a totally unique wedding ceremony. My writing career is building up and I want to put more of my time and energy into that. I’m sad to be leaving my full service behind as it’s brought me lots of pleasure and satisfaction over many years.

Another ending

There’s been another ending that I had no hand in. Since I began this blog in 2009, I’ve always had a slideshow of great wedding images. It’s now gone. Google simply dispensed with all slideshows in Blogger blogs a few months ago.

If you’re doing a search from my Search Box, you may find earlier blogposts with references to the slideshow that I used to love adding to, every time I published a new post. In the new year, I plan to find another way to put a slideshow back in. After all these years, I may make a move to Wordpress.
Update: I've just found the archive of my blog album on Google photos. If you love looking at wedding photos (as I do) here's the link. I took most of the photos in my garden.

Weddings in my Heart Garden

Helen and Carson married in
The Heart Garden
on 8 December 2016
My beautiful Heart Garden has hosted twenty-six wonderful weddings this year. I already have several booked for 2017 and every year, the garden just grows lovelier and lovelier.

As always, so much of my celebrant income goes into new plantings and maintenance, keeping the garden well-fed and cared for. The garden responds so generously to all my TLC. I think you’ll feel this when you visit. By the way, it’s often the special feel of the garden that visitors mention to me, along with their kind comments on its beauty.

As I finish blogging for the year, I send you my best wishes for a very happy holiday season, leading into a marvellous 2017 for us all. If 2017 is the year you choose to marry, I’d love to be there for you both, at that most significant and memorable occasion in your life together.

Please visit my enquiry page to send me an email.
Or phone me any day 9am to 9pm on 0406 376 375.
Or send me a text.
Or message me on my Michele the Celebrant facebook page.

We can arrange a Skype meet if you wish.

Amidst lots of fun and laughter, following the wedding of Alicia and Dave at the National Rose Gardens at Old Parliament House on Thursday 29 December, the newlyweds kindly made me a testimonial. I've put together a short story of their wedding, including their testimonial, on YouTube.
(Wasn't their wedding car was fabulous?!)

Thanks Dave and Alicia, for ending 2016 on such a high and happy note!