Can the celebrant refer to us as husband and wife in a commitment ceremony?

In a commitment ceremony is the celebrant allowed to say husband and wife?

Question Asked: 20/11/2020 Wedding Date: 9/08/2018

Most Helpful Response

Angela Limberis - Marriage Civil Celebrant


(3) Posted: 17/08/2021

Yes, your are already legally married.



Mary Odgers

South Australia

(26) Posted: 7/05/2021

Commitment ceremonies are not a legal union of two people... so cannot refer to the coup[le as husband and wife.

You may choose instead to say like.... "life partners"

PH Celebrants

Melbourne and Statewide Victoria

(0) Posted: 18/02/2021

Hi there from a sunny Docklands!

To answer your question - as you will not be legally marrying you will not be husband and wife so the celebrant cannot call you that. The celebrant I am certain can workshop some beautiful words that will ensure your ceremony will be everything you want it to be. 

Congratulations on wanting to show your commitment to your loved one. Do let me know if you would like to know more or if you would like to chat. Please get in touch. 

All the very best,



Petra Harmer-Shrowder

Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrant

Bruce Kilpatrick Celebrant Services

Wodonga / Bright / Echuca. VIC.

(30) Posted: 17/02/2021

The Marriage Act 1961 is very specific: during a 'legal' marriage ceremony, the couple must start their vows with the following sentence:
"I call upon the persons here present, to witness that I, (add name of groom/bride), take you, (add name of groom/bride) to be my lawful, wedded wife/husband."  Because a Committment Ceremony is not a legal marriage ceremony, the words husband/wife must not be used.
Also, it is illegal to purport, or make out, that the Committmant Ceremony is actually a Marriage Ceremony.

Bruce Kilpatrick
Authorised Marriage Celebrant.

Suzie Jones Celebrant

Brisbane and Gold Coast

(3) Posted: 8/12/2020

As a commitment ceremony you cannot be named Husband and wife however if you are having a commitment ceremony you should always consider "partners for life" as the commitment you are making and personally I love this.

(10) Posted: 26/11/2020

Apologies on the slow response but, as my esteemed colleagues have pointed out, the term 'husband and wife' is essentially reserved for those who have been legally married.

Treasured Ceremonies

Melbourne, All Suburbs, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Yarra Valley

(17) Posted: 23/11/2020

A celebrant can refer to you as husband and wife if you would prefer that for sure.
Talk to your celebrant about all the options available. 

Many people dont realise what a celebrant can do for them to make the ceremony personalised and make you feel special

Liz Underdown

Perth & Surroundings

(50) Posted: 23/11/2020

When performing a commitment ceremony, everyone present must be aware that it is not a legal wedding ceremony where the couple become husband and wife.

The Celebrant will deliver words to the affect that you are wishing to make a lifetime commitment to each other, knowing that it will bind them just as close as any legal ceremony.

Love and Light 

Liz Underdown CMC

Barbara Beames Friendly Celebrant

Yarra Valley Vineyards, Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsular and Gippsland.

(88) Posted: 23/11/2020

Hello there and congratulations to you both.  Usually we don't use the phrase of husband and wife in a commitment ceremony as it has to be clear that the service is a commitment ceremony and not a wedding.

There are a few lovely ways to introduce the couple at the conclusion of the service, I can say "congratulations to the happy couple"  or ladies and gentleman please congratulate  (first names of partners eg.  Tom and Emily or Sam and John)

I have done hundreds of commitment ceremonies and this can sound just beautiful.

At at Renewal of vows I as a celebrant can say, husband and wife as the couple have been married for some time.

I hope this helps you with that question.  Barbara.

Let me know if you would like more clarification.

Sylvia Johnson

Trentham, Daylesford, Macedon Ranges and Beyond

(5) Posted: 23/11/2020

No, because a commitment ceremony is not a legal marriage ceremony  - within a commitment ceremony you are declared 'to be partners for life', not husband and wife.  But within a legal ceremony you can be declared 'as partners for life".  

Hope this helps.


Didn't find what you were looking for? Ask your own question and we'll have our experts answer it.