Joyce Mathers Celebrant

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Joyce Mathers Celebrant
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Expert Advice

As a wedding professional, Joyce Mathers Celebrant offers expert advice to help couples plan their perfect day. Ask a question or read their expert advice.

Getting married in Australia with Work & Holiday Visa (462)?

Hi All, we are going to spend a year in Australia with my boyfriend, having a Work&Holiday Visa (462). We are engaged, and plan to get married in Australia. Is it necessary with this type of visa? Thanks a lot for your kind answer!

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Absolutely you can get married in Australia., as long as you are over the age of 18, not married to anyone else, and not in a prohibited relationship (i.e you are not related) 

The first of the legal requirements is to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage which must be done at least one month prior to your wedding date. 

To lodge this document you must produce a passport and, if married previously, either a Divorce or Death Certificate.   Once that has been lodged then you can start working with your Celebrant designing a ceremony that is for your specific needs and requirements.

There are so many beautiful locations all around Australia where you can get married.  I do wish you all the very best and if you are visiting West Australia I would be happy to help you put together a beautiful marriage, that will be memorable to you in every way.

Have a wonderful trip!


How can I encourage my partner to write their vows?

I've written mine and I'm still waiting to find out about theirs- is there anything I can do without nagging? The wedding is only two weeks away

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Sometimes it's hard to write vows but with a bit of research on the internet you can come with some great ideas. However, if the groom is feeling stressed about writing his own vows why not ask the Celebrant to have a quiet word with him and ask if he would like any help or suggestions. I have a blog on my website that you are welcome to share that helps to put vows together in an easy way.

All the best!

Joyce Mathers

Do celebrants usually recommend pre-marriage counselling or courses?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Yes absolutely, we are actually bound to recommend this service to each couple.  I think it is a very good idea to do some sort of pre-marriage councelling as it gives you the tools you need to help you through conflict issues or just general advice about living together as a married couple.  The Government generated brochure touches on the services but your Celebrant can give you more information of local services if you would like to explore counselling.  

It is my view that the more ground work you can do before you marry the more chance you have of having a successful marriage.  

If I'm in the middle of an argument with my sister, would it be bad of me to not attend her wedding?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

I think when your argument has all blown over you would look back and be pretty sorry that you didn't go  to her wedding.  Patch things up with your sister - life is too short to miss out on the significant days that matter.  Your sister will always be your sister, and you will probably always argue like sisters do, but at the end of the day you are both family and all arguments can be resolved.  

If I elope, do you think I'll regret it?

I don't want to do the whole big wedding thing so eloping is looking like a good option

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

An elopment can still be special and still be memorable and meaningful.  Perhaps create a list  - on one side list things that you would like for your wedding and on the other side things you definately don't want - this may help you to make up your mind.  Maybe compromise and just have a small wedding with the people who are most significant to you.  

Is it okay to stand the opposite way at the altar?

I know the bride is meant to stand on the left in our culture (and opposite in Jewish ceremonies), but can I stand on the right?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Of course you can!  Its your wedding and you can be on any side you wish - there is no hard and fast rules.  I have a bride who has quite a prominent birth mark on her face so she is choosing to stand on the right side so that it is not visible in the photos.  

Do Aussie couples usually have ushers?

We don't have a bridal party but want to honour our close friends by asking them to have official roles on the day, like ushers, and doing a reading and things like that.

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Its your wedding and you can do whatever you choose to do.  In fact, I relish the fact that a couple want to do something special and perhaps different from everyone else. 

Ushers are a tradition that stems from the UK where they would "usher" people to their seats advising them if they were to sit on the bride's side or the groom's side.  I have found here in Australia that it is not quite so formal but there is no doubt that you can certainly have ushers for this reason.  Also it is always nice to include other guests in doing a reading or perhaps taking part in a ritual of some sort.  

Do you usually have a rehearsal with the couple before the wedding day?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

I always encourage a rehearsal at the venue, if possible, prior to the wedding day.  I think its important to get a feel for the venue, and also to time the music for the processional to ensure that the bridal party don't come down the aisle to quickly.  This is the bride's big moment and I encourage her to milk it for all its worth.  For the first time, this weekend, I actually had the groom walk down the aisle with his mother, and she presented him to the bride, then then bride came in with her father and he presented her to the groom! It was absolutely lovely.  

At the same time I take the opportunity to have the couple sign the legal document "Declaration of No Legal Impediment" so two birds with one stone!

A rehearsal also give us time to have a bit of fun together too before the big day and can help to ease the nerves of the couple as they have already played out the scene so its not quite so daunting.  

What is your favourite wedding reading?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

I have a reading that I do after I perform the Celtic Traditional Handfasting ritual and it just says so much about the couple who are standing there holding hands anticipating what their new lives are going to be together.  Usually they have been bound together in a beautiful tartan or some coloured ribbons.  Handfasting, is the traditional Celtic ritual.  We bound the couple's hands together and finish off by tying a knot.  Hence the term "Tying the Knot" referring to getting married.  This ritual started in the 16th Century but I perform it in many different ways to modernise this lovely old fashioned tradition.   Here is the reading..... 


"These hands holding you on your wedding day are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.


These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future.


These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear and grief wracks your mind.   The hands that will wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children and will help you hold your family as one, and give you strength when you need it.


And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”

What's the usual order of events in a wedding ceremony?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Processional (Bridal party Entrance)


Reading (Optional)

Couple's story (optional)

Monitum (Legal Speak by Celebrant)


Exchanging of Rings

Ritual (Optional)


The Kiss

Signing of the Register

Conclusion by Celebrant

Recessional (When announced Mr. and Mrs.....)

This is a general Order of Service but can change depending on the wants and needs of the couple.  

Is it possible to get married at the registry and then have a wedding later?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Absolutely!  I have done this just recently where the couple needed to marry pretty quickly but were waiting for family to come from overseas.  We did the legal wedding in front of two witnesses and then their marriage ceremony was conducted in front of 100 guests 2 months later.  The only difference in the marriage ceremony was that there were no legal paperwork to do or legal speak by the Celebrant.  It was a fantastic day!

What do you need to have a wedding?

My partner, myself, two witnesses.... what else?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

All you need is a Celebrant, two witnesses and the bride and groom on the day of the wedding.  However, at least one month prior to the date of your marriage you will need to sign a Notice of Intended Marrage.  The rest of the paperwork can be signed on the day - the Declaration of No Legal Impediment prior to the ceremony and the rest after the Ceremony has been conducted. 

How early can I file my marriage documents?

Should begin ASAP or does it not matter as long as it's a month prior to the wedding?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

You can lodge the first of the legal documents, which is the Notice of Intended Marriage, 18months prior to the wedding. You can do this anytime from 18 months to 1 month prior to the wedding. If you are marrying on the 3rd February 2018 you can lodge the Notice now up to 3rd Jan 2018. Once a couple decide to sign with my services I usually lodge the documents as soon as possible.

We have friends that are getting married after us and have invited us, do we need to invite them too?

They're my fiance's friends, I really don't know them very well at all. I haven't spent any time with them and they don't seem important in his life. He hasn't mentioned inviting them, but it seems like the right thing to do. Our wedding is going to be very limited though, about 60 people with half of those being my family. Not sure if we're obligated to invite them or not.

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

If your guest list is limited and I would say No as you would only be inviting those that are close to you or are family.

I'm looking into booking a celebrant, but I don't understand the difference between ceremony types?

Some provide a "full personalised" ceremony, and others a basic package, what's the biggest difference there? I thought all ceremonies had to be pretty much the same, ie: "Do you ___ take ___ to be your lawfully wedded wife". Please explain how there's such a big difference in price and services? :)

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

A good Celebrant will explain to you all the different options that are open to you. There are "Quickie" ceremonies that take only 10 minutes and include only the legal part and nothing else. There are more elaborate wedding ceremonies that include your personal story, include readings or rituals. Rituals are an inclusion that some brides like to have part of the ceremony as it makes theirs different from someone else e.g. if you are Scottish you may want to include the Handfasting Ritual, or if you there are children involved in your lives you might like to add a Sand Ceremony so that they can take part.

I always enjoy going through all the different options as a lot of couples are unaware how much can go into their ceremony.

I have an issue with someone posting pics of us before we do on social media...

How do we make it known to our guests?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

I absolutely agree with you and when I interview my couples that is on the list - would you like me to announce that no photos are to be submitted to social media without the bride and groom's permission? Most couples want no photos during the ceremony which I announce prior to the ceremony starting.

Do celebrants come with marriage documents and how early can I file them after the wedding?

I was wondering if marriage celebrants usually come with their own marriage documents included in their package? Also, is there a timeframe of when I should file my marriage documents after the wedding? How early is too early/how long can I wait? Thanks!

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Don't worry about Marriage Documents as your Celebrant will take care of it all.

1. The first document you sign will be the Notice of Intended Marriage which must be lodged between 18 months and 1 month of the wedding ceremony date. The NOIM is the document to be completed with all your identifications to prove who you are e.g. passports, birth certificates, driving licence. This document is filed until after the wedding ceremony.

2. Just prior to the wedding you will sign a Declaration of No Legal Impediment which is declaring that nothing is stopping you legally from marrying.

3. On the wedding day you will sign Official Marriage Certificate, copy Certificate of Marriage and the Presentation Certificate.

4. You keep the Presentation Certificate

5. Celebrant completes the NOIM, and along with Official Marriage Certificate and Declaration of no legal impediment - lodges with BDM.

6. Celebrant can also lodge a completed an Application for Marriage Certificate which you need to change your name.

I am more than happy to explain anything that you are not sure of -

How do I convince my fiancé to elope?

My finance has a huge family so our wedding is going to be too expensive. I only have a small family so my guests will be out numbered. I think weddings are more about pleasing others and the meaning gets lost. I want it to be a special moment for just him and I, without the expensive price tag. I want to elope but he wants the huge traditional wedding. What do we do?

Joyce Mathers Celebrant

Hi Daniella - this is a tough one! I agree that a huge family wedding will be very expensive and, in my view, a couple shouldn't put a strain on themselves financially for one day. A small family wedding can be intimate and beautiful and very personal. To get married you need only two witnesses over the age of 18 but you probably don't want to go that small. I just married a couple in a park on Sunday and it was absolutely beautiful. The bride did the setting up herself with the help of a friend and guests were invited to the ceremony but only family and close friends to the reception. They set the ceremony up beautifully - it can be done with a bit of forethought and lots of creative ideas. Hop onto Instagram and check out some of the set ups and copy! Reception can be finger food and champagne so it doesn't need to be fancy or a sit down meal. Ask around if friends can help you as there are bound to be some friends who are creative who would be able to inspire you.

I wish you all the best!

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