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.

25 August 2016

How to add warmth and friendliness to your legal vows of marriage

Hello, and welcome.
Jia and Ben married in the autumn Heart Garden 6 May 16
This blogpost is about:
  • Your legal marriage vows
  • When does marriage legally come into effect?
  • Legal name change
The green room, set up for a small private winter wedding. Bride and groom will stand in the bay window.
Your legal marriage vows

As you may or may not know, we have no registry office weddings in the ACT. Couples who are looking for a registry-style wedding often want the shortest, simplest ceremony possible. I’ve been celebrant at hundreds of short simple weddings so I know it’s a popular choice. 

If a short and simple ceremony is what you both choose, then you’ll probably only want to make legal vows of marriage, rather than adding personal pledges to each other as well.

If you opt for legal vows only, you will probably want them to sound warm and heartfelt, rather than the cool, compulsory wording of a legal contract, straight off the Attorney General’s website. Here are some ideas to help you achieve this desire. 

Michelle married James at the National
Carillon on a sunny autumn morning
14 May 2016
If you want your marriage to be legal – and of course, you do – then your vows of marriage must comply with the Australian Marriage Act of 1961. They must be legal but they need not be legalistic. They can sound intimate and heartfelt. (Having said that, I am also aware that keeping your vows strictly traditional can also sound warm and moving when you add your loving feeling to the words.)

Here’s the vow as it appears in the Marriage Act: “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”; or words to that effect.

You’ve probably heard this legal vow many times over at the weddings of friends and family. It can sound rather dull and same old, same old.

The option to make your vows warm, fresh and friendly lies in or words to this effect. You won’t have free choice here however, to choose words that you personally decide mean much the same thing.

The words to this effect are set strictly by the Commonwealth Attorney-General. Problem is, as I see it, few celebrants explain all the wording options that are legally available to couples getting married in Australia.

It’s fairly common knowledge I think, that you won’t have to use the old-fashioned thee in your vows. You can say you instead. But did you also know that there are several variations on all persons here present?

You can say all people here present. This is a bit more 21st-century but there are two more modern options that may surprise you. You can say everyone here or say everybody here in place of all persons here present.

Michelle makes her vow of marriage to James
Compare I call upon the persons here present to witness with I ask everyone here to witness. See what I mean about warmer, fresher and more friendly?

And then, to everyone here, you can add our families and friends. Note here however that you can’t say our families and friends instead of all persons here present or the like, but you can add it in.

When does marriage legally come into effect?

And here’s another fact you may not be familiar with:

Your legal marriage takes effect when you make your vows, not with the signing of certificates. In my many years as of experience as a civil marriage celebrant, I’ve found this is a very common misunderstanding. Your certificates will state that a legal marriage has already taken place.

Mae and Rhuanie in the winter Heart Garden.
We had the ceremony and signing inside, in the cosy green room.
22 July 2016
Before you, your witnesses and your celebrant all sign your three certificates of marriage, you are already legally married. This means that if anything happens to your paperwork it won’t affect the legality of your marriage.

Good to know this, yes?

Legal name change

You may also like to know that if you plan to change your name with marriage, this change also happens when you make your vows of marriage to each other during your ceremony. That’s all there is to the legal process of name change.  

The bride can take the surname of the groom, the groom can take the surname of the bride, or you can join your surnames together. The choice is yours.

You may choose to be presented by your celebrant at the end of your ceremony with your new names, like Aaron and Kelly, Mr and Mrs Stanton. Or Kelly and Aaron Stanton. This option is legal, whether you have signed during a break in the ceremony itself or the signing happens after your ceremony ends.

When you are signing your certificates, you already have your new legal name. You must however, sign the three certificates of marriage with your usual signature (or pre-marriage name). From then on, you can use your new signature.

Naw Be and Eh Keh married in their
Gungahlin home. 12 June 2016
Soon after your wedding, you will probably want to order a transcript of your official certificate from the Registrar in the territory or state where you were married. You will need this documentation to prove your change of name for any official purpose, such as changing your driver’s licence or getting a new passport.

You may like to use my Search box to read about things like free wedding venues in Canberra, or see what I've written about a venue you have in mind for your wedding. On August 1, Google stopped Blogger access to all Picasa album images, and I always used to use Picasa. I'm sad to see so many dull empty boxes in my older blogposts, in place of my beautiful photos.

If you love wedding photos (as I do) you may like to visit one of my collections. Here's a link to one of my archive albums. I've just revisited this album for old time's sake. Some of the images are just gorgeous. They no longer appear in blogposts.

If you would like me to be your celebrant

     If you would like me to be your celebrant, I'd be delighted. Please contact me by filling in this Email Contact Form, or by phone or text to 0406 376 375, anytime on any day between 9am and 9pm. We can text, phone, email, use facebook messages, or talk on Skype if you wish.
     By the way, I've just been corresponding with Ms Rose at Polka Dot Bride (with whom I have no commercial connection). It's a great resource site, run by lovely people. I recommend it. 

Sincerely
Michele