Let’s Design a Wedding… Part II
Congratulations, you have chosen a date, a venue and hopefully a Certified Marriage Celebrant who will deliver a ceremony of your dreams. But let’s step back a little and look at what happens once you’ve selected your Celebrant. It would be appropriate for the three of you to get together, for a meeting; a meeting that kicks off the design process and begins to take care of your legal responsibilities.
As you would imagine, getting married alters your legal status within your community and I’ll go through some important issues later but firstly I want to talk you through the legal issues surrounding the marriage itself; as these requirements, must be judged as met by your celebrant, for the marriage to be legally recognised. I’ll spare you the detailed legal explanation going instead for the major issues.
To legally marry in Australia, a man and a woman must:
not be married to someone else
not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
be at least eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old
understand what marriage means and freely consent to becoming husband and wife
use specific words during the ceremony
give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame.
The last of these points is one of the first things you will do with your Celebrant and it involves the completion of a form known as the Notice of Intended Marriage. By completing this form, with your Celebrant’s assistance, you are establishing your identity and proving you are entitled to marry. It is worth noting that your Celebrant has a legal responsibility to ensure the accuracy of your information and must not proceed to marry you until that legal responsibility is discharged.
As noted earlier your legal status changes at the point you become husband and wife. Here are a couple of things to think about:
You may begin using your new chosen name (or your old unchanged name) from the minute you are married and you need not complete any documentation to do so; it’s called “name by association”. Now this works well until you run into a situation where you are dealing with a legal requirement to identify yourself under your new name. As a minimum, it is recommended you obtain a Marriage Certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) a Government department authorised by law to issue such certificates. This will be recognised throughout Australia as proof of your marriage and can be used to identify you in most legal circumstances. Please note this is not the Certificate of Marriage given to you by your Celebrant on the day of your marriage; that certificate is used to register the marriage with BDM who will later, when asked, issue the official Standard Certificate. The Standard Certificate is all you need for identification purposes but commemorative versions are available, for a price.
If you have changed your name and now wish to alter; for example: your driver’s licence, your passport, your identity with a financial institution then the Standard Marriage Certificate will be accepted as proof of your new marital status and name.
At another time, it would be appropriate to explore the whole name changing process but for now it’s back to the first meeting between yourselves and your Celebrant.
As the legalities are now under way you should be able to discuss with your Celebrant what they will provide and how much it will cost. I make the next comment recognising my fellow Celebrants are professionals and operate under an umbrella of high ethical and moral standards. However, this should not be left to chance and you should do two things to protect yourselves by asking the following questions:
Does your Celebrant have a written agreement (normally called a Service Agreement) under which they will be acting? The agreement should detail the services they will be providing; the cost of those services; and, if anything goes wrong, their plans to deal with such eventualities.
Does the Service Agreement detail a complaint procedure for you to follow should you feel uncertain or unhappy about how the relationship is proceeding? Particularly what are the remedies you have access to, including refunds, should the relationship break down and become unworkable?
If you are uncertain as to your capacity to deal with any confrontation that might arise because of the above, then involve other people, right from the start who can offer guidance. OK, now relax, your eyes are wide open and you’re prepared; 99.9% never have a problem.
Finally, we get to talk about design!
Now I’m not a fan of beginning with a blank sheet of paper; creatively it’s just hard work. Nor am I a fan of thinking, one size fits all; so with this in mind I like to begin with what I call a traditional outline (see diagram below) and from there put in and take out until we have a framework or skeleton.
You can keep playing with the little boxes until you have a structure that makes sense; then and only then can you start generating the words that will bring each part of the outline to life.
In the next part of this series I’ll go through each part of the structure to talk about the opportunities you have to personalise each step of the ceremony.