Let’s Elope! Can we do it in Australia?

You’re in love and just want to be together forever but feel that a traditional wedding is not your style. Let’s elope!

It would be just the two of you, making your relationship permanent without having to worry about the expense of a wedding, who to invite, where it will be held, and what to wear. Romantic and simple.

Can you just visit the Registry Office and get married tomorrow? It’s a romantic idea, but Australian law requires you to wait at least a month before you can get married.

You first need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage (NoIM) form which is available online from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your state. The completed form must be given to your celebrant or lodged with the Registry Office by you and your partner in person at least one calendar month before the wedding.

As well as completing the form, you need to provide original birth certificates (you must both be at least 18), current photo IDs and evidence of the end of any previous marriages (a death certificate or finalised divorce papers). Note that after a divorce is granted, the final papers are issued one month and one day later.

Both parties must sign the ‘Declaration of no legal impediment to marriage’, to declare you are over 18 years, and that there is no legal impediment to your marriage.

The waiting period:

  • If this is the first marriage for both of you or a previous spouse is deceased, allow at least a month for the legal requirements.
  • If one or both of you is divorced, you will need to allow a minimum of two months and one day for the legal paperwork
  • Make an appointment to lodge your NoIM at the Registry office and be interviewed
  • Make an appointment for your wedding ceremony.

Your wedding day:

  • Take along two witnesses who are aged over 18
  • You can invite a few guests as some Registries allow for up to 12-20 people to attend
  • Both partners sign declarations that they are over the age of 18 years, not legally married to someone else and are not directly related to each other
  • Write your own vows or use the standard wording of the short civil ceremony
  • Your celebrant will solemnise your marriage and you will exchange marriage vows and rings
  • You, your partner and your witnesses will sign up to three marriage certificates
  • After your wedding, your marriage will be registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State or Territory where your marriage took place.

Check the details and arrangements required on the website for Births, Deaths and Marriages in your State of Territory.

Find out more here: https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/Pages/marriages/registry-marriages.aspx

After the ceremony:

  • Keep costs down by asking a friend to take photos or book a professional wedding photographer within your budget and needs.
  • Celebrate with a post-elopement party with friends and family. You may have eloped Australian-style, take the opportunity to celebrate as a newly married couple!
  • Set up a Gift Card Registry for those who would like to give a wedding present.

For a whirlwind wedding, consider getting married overseas!

The Smartraveller website has detailed information about getting married overseas.

Find out more: https://smartraveller.gov.au/guide/all-travellers/birth-death-marriage/pages/getting-married-overseas.aspx

An overseas marriage cannot be registered in Australia, but will generally be recognised in Australia if it:

  • was a valid marriage in the overseas country
  • would have been recognised as valid under Australian law if the marriage had taken place in Australia.

In New Zealand, only three working days are required for a marriage licence and the marriage age is over 16.

Find out more at https://www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/getting-married/how-to-get-married-in-nz/