Here we answer some of your frequently asked questions about getting married.
Q. How early does one need to book their Celebrant?
A. In order to ensure that a Celebrant is available for the date and time of your choice, it is wise to book your Celebrant at the same time as you are booking your Venue and Caterer. January, February and March are popular months and some couples book 18 months ahead.
Q. Do I really need to include two Venues on my Marriage Licence Application?
A. The Marriage must be solemnised at a place described on the Licence. This means that if only an outside Venue is entered on the Application and it is wet and windy, then the marriage must take place outside. It is wise to include a ‘wet-weather’ venue.
Q. Is it necessary for Microphones to be used?
A. Largely this depends on the Venue and how many guests there will be. If, for example, the Ceremony takes place on a beach and there are crashing waves, it becomes difficult for many of the guests to hear what is taking place. If the bridal couple are alongside a running river, or a Main Road, that too can be very noisy. In a garden setting with say 50 people, a microphone shouldn’t be necessary. The Celebrant should be able to project their voice satisfactorily. If there were say, 120 guests, a microphone could make all the difference. One needs to consider though, the type of microphone to be used. A lapel microphone, rather than a hand-held or one on a stand, is preferable as they leave the celebrant’s hands free.
Q. I would like to wear a veil and have a section of it over my face. When should my partner lift it back over my head?
A. Just prior to you saying your Marriage Vows to each other, I would ask the Bridegroom to do just that so that you can clearly see each other.
Q. Do we need to show a Passport or Birth Certificate when we make our Licence Application?
A. No. One of the parties to the marriage must appear in person before a Registrar of Marriages to sign a Statutory Declaration that both parties are free to marry and that all the details supplied are correct.
Q. This is a second marriage, do I have to show anything to the BDM Office?
A. Where either of the parties has previously been married or in a Civil Union with a different partner, they will be expected to give the Registrar documentary evidence of the dissolution of that relationship (e.g. Divorce/Dissolution Order). If the person’s former spouse or partner died, the date and place of the death must be stated on the Notice of Intended Marriage form. You will not need to produce evidence of the death if the death has been registered in New Zealand.
Q. I’ve been married before. Can I have someone give me away this time?
A. Yes, this is a personal decision. Examples are - a relative, a good friend or your children could Give You Away
Q. My partner and I wish to write our own Marriage Vows. Is this permissible?
A. The NZ Marriage Act 1955 states that the following words or words to that effect must be spoken - “I PERSON ‘A’ TAKE YOU PERSON ‘B’ to be my lawful wedded husband/wife”. Writing your own Vows can be very special and heartfelt. It is your decision as to whether they comprise 2 or 3 sentences or more.
Q. Can our children be involved in the Ceremony?
A. Yes, they can and this is something you would discuss with your Celebrant. It depends on their age of course, as to whether it is ‘active’ involvement or a sentence or two about them, written into the Ceremony.
Q. Which name do I sign on the day?
A. The Bride signs in her Maiden name – the name she uses when she makes her Licence Application.
Q. Everyone knows my partner by his Nick-name. Can this be used during the Ceremony?
A. It can throughout most of the Ceremony, but by Law, the Celebrant must, at some point in the Ceremony, use the full names of the bride and bridegroom as given in the Notice of Intended Marriage (and, consequently as they appear on the Marriage Licence.) This is to clearly identify the bride and bridegroom.
Q. Is a rehearsal necessary?
A. I don’t consider it to be necessary. I am totally organised and talk you through the whole Ceremony. By all means, familiarise yourself and your wedding party with the Venue and be clear in your mind where the Ceremony will take place. On the day, I will assist you and your bridesmaids into position. It is never a problem.
Q. My friend would like to marry us. We’d ask a Registered Marriage Celebrant to do the Legal part of signing the Certificates. Can we do this?
A. No, this is not permissible. Only Registered Marriage Celebrants are authorised to solemnise marriages in New Zealand. I suggest your friend could be involved by way of doing a Reading/Poem.
Q. Who collects the Marriage Licence from the BDM office?
A. Either one of the couples collects the Licence and Certificates, checks that they are correct and then delivers everything to their Celebrant before the Marriage.
Q. How old do the 2 Witnesses have to be?
A. It is not essential for the Witnesses to be adults, but they should be of an age as to understand the significance of the part they take in the recording of the marriage. The witnesses are required to sign the two Certificates.
Q. Are there specific hours during which Marriages can take place?
A. Marriages may take place at any time and on any day of the week, unless you wish to have a Registry Office wedding, in which case there are restrictions on the day and the time.
Q. We had a small Registry Office wedding 2 years ago, but now wish to celebrate our marriage with family and friends. Is this possible?
A. Yes, it would be a Reaffirmation of your Vows, and as you are already legally married, the Ceremony would not be recorded as another marriage.
Q. How old does one have to be before you can marry?
A. Both parties to a marriage must be at least 16 years of age. If you are 16 or 17 years of age, you will need parental consent.
Q. I would like to retain my own name, rather than take my husband’s surname.
A. You do not have to take your husband’s name when you marry. Simply start using his name as your own. Similarly, your husband may wish to take your Surname. If you do change your name, make sure that you notify the IRD, your Bank, Insurance and Credit Card companies and the AA for changes on your Driver’s Licence and Vehicle Registration documents. If you are going abroad on your honeymoon and want your Passport changed to your married name, ensure that you apply to the Passport Office in plenty of time. You can use your Marriage Certificate to have the necessary documentation changed to your new name.