Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan

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As a wedding professional, Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan offers expert advice to help couples plan their perfect day. Ask a question or read their expert advice.

Does the celebrant have to do the whole "how they met" story?

I feel like that might be awkward for us. We are a super stong and stable couple now, but when we met we still had a lot of growing up to do (we were teenagers, and broke each others hearts.) We had a huge falling out and reconnected later. It was very messy and all of our fam and friends know that. Do we have to go into that when our life is so beautiful NOW, and has been for years now?

Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan

No, a Celebrant does not have to share any details of your journey to date with anyone.  Most celebrants have a range of wording they can offer beyond the legal words that are just as meaningful as a story about a couple and you can then choose what you'd like to say, or they can make suggestions, write something unique to you both about where you are at an where you are headed.  Only the legally required wors of warning (the Monitum), the vows and the signing of the Register and certificates are required in a ceremony and the rest of the content including music, readings, rituals etc is up to you.  Gina Callan, Civil Marriage Celebrant, Lyons, ACT

conjugal status on marriage certificate?

Do both husband and wife have to mention their conjugal status (if one of them previously divorced) on their marriage certificate? Are there any options with the marriage certificates like can they choose any marriage certificate that does not require conjugal status details?

Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan

Yes, you must both state your conjugal (marital) status on your Notice of Intended Marriage (NoIM) and your Celebrant must reflect this status on two of the marriage certificates you will sign on your wedding date (and on the Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage).   The third marriage certificate that you will receive on the day of your wedding, however, with the Commonwealth crest on it, does not have this detail on it.  This is the document that would be photographed and/or you might show to family and friends. 

In the ACT all details from the NoIM are reflected on the official registered copy of your  'standard' marriage certificate if you are applying for this from the Registrar of Marriages after your ceremony (or your celebrant lodges your application for you), but if you order the 'commemorative' certificate' here in the ACT (and possibly other states and territories) when applying f, this detail is not on that version.  The commemorative version costs more of course.  Please note: Only you and your witnesses need see the marriage certificates that you sign on the day you marry. 

I hope this is useful information.

Gina Callan, Civil Marriage Celebrant at Licensed to Wed, ACT.

is the ceremony the only part that HAS to happen for the marriage to be legal?

Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan

No, even before the ceremony, a couple must give written notice of their intention to marry to a Celebrant, who ensures they are validly able to marry.  A Notice of Intended Marriage is a legal requirement and it must be lodged with a Celebrant at least one month before a marriage and it is valid then for a legal marriage to take place any time in the 18 months following lodgement.  

A couple must also show their birth certificate and photo identification (or a passport also provides evidence of place and date of birth) to the Celebrant and, if relevant, they must  provide evidence of divorce, change of name, death of a previous spouse etc too.  

Celebrants are legally required to provide certain information to the couple in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961 before the ceremony can occur.  Closer to the marriage, a couple must sign a Declaration of No Impediment to Marriage and check the accuracy of the three marriage certificates they will sign with their two legal witnesses and the celebrant after their ceremony.  

The ceremony itself only has three compulsory legal components including some words of warning (The 'Monitum' - spoken by the Celebrant), the legally required vows (spoken by the couple before at least 2 witnesses) and the signing of marriage certificates, but of course there are many options that your Celebrant can run you through and help you decide what you want included.  

Following the ceremony, your legal documentation is lodged by your Celebrant with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State/Territory in which you were married.  All this is legally required for marriage and your chosen Celebrant can assist with explanations plus talk to you about associated matters, like what you need to do if you want to use your spouse's surname after marriage and change it on official documentation including your passport, bank account and driver's license.

 Just ask a Celebrant for help with understanding all legal and non-legal requirements and they should be able to help.  Contact me in Canberra if you have any questions of course.  Gina Callan at Licensed to Wed. 

I think I need to call off my wedding, any advice?

Long story short he's a Muslim and for me to marry him I need to convert to Islam. Although I'm so confused why I need to change my religion to be with the man I love, the man of my dreams. There's a month left to our wedding and love this man to pieces but I just don't want to change I'm a Catholic. What should I do?

Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan

You may wish to postpone your marriage a little while and/or cancel if you are feeling very confused while you talk things through with your partner, family and friends and/or contact some experts in relationships who can help you consider these types of issues.  You could  talk with your own Church leaders if you are a practicing Catholic and the Catholic church provides pre-marriage education and counselling, or if you prefer to go with your partner to a non-religious marriage and relationships counselling and information service, Relationships Australia have social workers, psychologists and counsellors working nationwide to assist anyone in a relationship with issues/concerns.  Their 1900 no. is 1800 050 321 and they have a web page  

Your partner may also have some suggestions around seeking advice from a leader or counsellor within the Muslim faith. Locally, there are many private counsellors who may be able to help too and there are also Mediation services who can walk you both through a process to clarify the issues you have and talk them through. eg. Conflict Resolution Service operates nationally.  

No one should ever feel pressured to marry or marry with doubts in mind.  If you have completed a Notice of Intended Marriage (NoIM) with a Celebrant already, it is valid for 18 months which usually gives you thinking time and even then, you are under no legal or other obligation to go through with a marriage. The NoIM can simply be destroyed and redrafted later if/when you are ready. It would be illegal for a Civil Marriage Celebrant to facilitate your marriage if they knew you had serious doubts about your decision, so never feel pressured by anyone to go ahead with something you are not comfortable doing.  Take your time with such important matters and if your fiance does not take this approach well, you might then know that he was not worth it anyway.  Surely, if he loves you and you he, you will both want to ensure you marry when both are certain about the way forward and therefore happy, rather than confused.

Of course, you may have paid fees for venues, photographers, cake, cars and many other suppliers perhaps too, so if that is the case, contact each one quickly to see if you can postpone or cancel and still get back any deposits or other fees etc.  In the long-term you may find that you are not able to get back money  if cancelling completely, but perhaps can get back some if postponing etc.  Money is not everything however if you know in the end, you made the right decision and making the wrong decision might even prove more costly in the long run.  Many people sell wedding decorations, gowns etc via the various Wedding fora or on ebay, gumtree etc too, so you might still be able to regain some expenditure to date.

Obviously, you should tell family and friends who you have invited to the ceremony too, as soon as possible of your plans, as often people spend a lot on travel, accommodation, gifts etc and they would rather know too what is happenning too.  

I strongly recommend, if you do postpone or cancel that you seek some emotional and psychological support with and/or after your decision as there may well be a period of grieving to go through.  This is never easy of course, but Relationship Australia can also refer you in the right direction and/or your GP might help if you are unsure how to get this help.  I am a Civil Marriage Celebrant and cannot offer further expertise really, except to say that Lifeline is always available to support people who are going through a tough time, so they may be a good source of information too.

No matter what happens, I wish you luck and honestly feel that you deserve the best and what is right for you in the end, so my best wishes in making any difficult decisions and always put your needs and wants first.  Ask for help too as a problem shared is a problem best dealt with.


Gina Callan at Licensed to Wed :)

How long does a civil ceremony take?

I'm having a civil ceremony but I don't know how long it should be to give me enough time to do photos after and also not bore my guests? How long does the average civil ceremony take?

Licensed to Wed - Gina Callan

Hi Judith As a celebrant I usually suggest to couples that they allow a full hour for the ceremony, depending on what they choose to include of course and even though the spoken parts may only take 15-30mins on average. This time-frame allows the bride to arrive a few minutes late and have photos taken at the venue, while the celebrant gathers everyone in a pre-ceremony announcement, including the groom and groomsmen and advises guests to silence mobile phones (etc) and prepare for the Bridal party to arrive. The Bride then walks down the aisle to music and the actual speaking part follows, lasting usually 15-25minutes, then there is 8-10 mins provided for the signing of legal documents/music/photos, a further 5 minutes for the couple to be formally introduced to guests, closing words and any post-ceremony announcement re what will happen after the ceremony (eg. group photo before family photos, reception details etc. Then the couple walk back down the aisle and approx 15-20 minutes allows for guests to congratulate them and be a part of group photos etc before heading away to have photos taken prior to the reception. This time-frame builds in a few minutes contingency too. ie. If one hour is provided for and the ceremony takes a little less time, there is more time for photos etc. I hope this is useful information but feel free to contact me if you have further questions. Regards - Gina Callan, Civil Marriage Celebrant, Licensed to Wed (ACT) Tel: 041 046 5414

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