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Marriages FAQs

This page contains answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about marriages in Australia.

You can find more answers in the Victorian Marriage Registry FAQs or the Overseas weddings FAQs.


How far in advance must I notify a celebrant of my intent to marry?

You must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form at least one month, and no more than 18 months, before the date on which you wish to get married.

The definition of one month is determined by the Acts Interpretation Act 2011 (Cth). For example:

  • if you lodge your NOIM form on 11 January, the earliest you can get married is 11 February, and the latest you can get married is 11 July the following year
  • if you lodge your NOIM form on 31 January, the earliest you can get married is 1 March, and the latest you can get married is 31 July the following year.
Can I get married less than one month after lodging my Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form?

Only under exceptional and limited circumstances, as outlined by the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) and Marriage Regulations 1963 (Cth).

To get married less than one month after lodging your NOIM form, you must be granted a shortening of the statutory notice period by a prescribed authority such as the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Registrars and Deputy Registrars at major regional Victorian courts can also grant shortenings.

As a prescribed authority, BDM will only consider your application if you:

  • have already lodged a completed and signed NOIM with your chosen celebrant (or are lodging your NOIM with the Victorian Marriage Registry)
  • provide your original signed and completed NOIM and all supporting documents, as sighted by your celebrant
  • meet one of the exceptional circumstances (external link) laid out by the Marriage Regulations in Schedule 1B.
  • complete a notice period shortening application form, which includes a statutory declaration clearly explaining your reason(s) for applying for a shortening
  • provide documents as evidence to support your application, and
  • provide a signed letter from your chosen celebrant, confirming they are willing and available to perform your marriage on your chosen date if the shortening is granted.

You will also need to pay a non-refundable shortening fee.

Although BDM will consider a shortening application if you meet the above requirements, you may not be granted the shortening if BDM is not satisfied with your application.

Contact us for more information about shortenings and the circumstances under which BDM will consider an application for shortening.

What does "conjugal status" mean?

Conjugal status indicates whether someone has been married and if so, how that marriage ended.

  • If you have not been previously married or your marriage was annulled your conjugal status is 'Never validly married'.
    Note. Do not use the term 'single' on a Notice of Intended Marriage form or marriage certificate, as it does not indicate whether you have been married previously.
  • If you have been previously married and divorced your conjugal status is 'Divorced'.
  • If you have been previously married and your spouse passed away, your conjugal status is 'Widow' (women) or 'Widower' (men).
Are witnesses required at a wedding?
Yes. You must have two witnesses attend your wedding ceremony, to witness the ceremony and sign the marriage certificates. Witnesses can be any family member or friend who is at least 18 years of age.
What proof of marriage will I receive on my wedding day?

On your wedding day you will receive a certificate known as the 'party certificate'. This certificate is for your own records. The party certificate may not be accepted as proof of marriage for official purposes, such as updating your driver licence or passport to your married name.

If you need a certificate as official proof of marriage, you should apply for a standard marriage certificate.

You can apply for your standard marriage certificate any time after your wedding ceremony. Please note that the Registry can only issue a standard marriage certificate once your marriage is registered. It is your celebrant's responsibility to ensure the marriage is registered by lodging the documents within 14 days of your wedding ceremony.

What do I need to do to change my surname after marriage?

If you were married in Australia and want to update your driver licence or passport to your married name, you do not need to register a change of name. Instead, you will need to present a standard marriage certificate as proof of marriage and your new surname.

If you were married overseas, you may need to apply to register a change of name. Different organisations have varying requirements. Check with the relevant organisations before submitting any application to the Registry.