Getting married is a significant event in a person's life. Traditionally, people get married in a ceremony with their loved ones present. However, with the advancement of technology, there is now a new option available for people who want to get married: online marriages.

Online marriages are not currently recognized in Australia, but there are still options available for couples seeking a convenient and legal alternative. If you are considering getting married online in Australia, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to do so. We will cover everything you need to know, from choosing an online marriage provider to obtaining a marriage certificate.

The Legality of Online Marriages in Australia

According to the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) in Australia, marriages must be solemnized in the physical presence of the authorized celebrant, the couple, and two official witnesses. This requirement extends to signing the necessary paperwork for a legal marriage. Notably, Registered Commonwealth Marriage Celebrants, and similar authorities, are not permitted to virtually witness signatures or officiate ceremonies online.

Despite inquiries since 2020, the legal framework for marriages in Australia, governed at the federal level, requires any changes to go through the parliamentary process. Thus, the likelihood of virtual marriages being legally recognized in Australia seems distant.

However, the state of Utah in the United States has embraced digital innovation in marriage procedures. Before the 2019 pandemic, certain regions in Utah required the physical presence of the officiant and the couple for a legally binding marriage. Then in 2019, the Utah County marriage license office introduced a fully digital process, eliminating the need for in-person visits to obtain and submit marriage licenses.

Utah's online marriage system is inclusive and recognizes marriages throughout the United States. This implies that a couple legally marrying online in Utah will have their marriage acknowledged by other states.

Generally, marriages legally solemnized in one country are recognized by Australian law, as long as you possess a legitimate marriage certificate from the country of marriage; there is no requirement for an Australian marriage certificate.

Traditional marriage process in Australia

The Marriage Act 1961 and Marriage Regulations 2017 govern the rules for in-person weddings in Australia. Here are the key requirements:

Eligibility Criteria

  • You must not be married.
  • You cannot marry a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister.
  • The minimum age is 18 unless a court approves a marriage where one person is 16-18 years old.

Understanding and Consent

  • You must understand the meaning of marriage and freely agree to marry.
  • Specific words must be used during the ceremony.

Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM)

  • Submit the NOIM form to an authorized marriage celebrant at least 1 month and no more than 18 months before the wedding.
  • No requirement to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

Marriage Celebrant

  • The ceremony must be conducted by an authorized marriage celebrant.

Before Getting Married

  • Complete the NOIM form, giving it to the celebrant at least 1 month before the wedding.
  • If less than 1 month until the wedding, consult the celebrant; approval from a prescribed authority may allow marriage in less than a month.

Documentation Required

  • Evidence of date and place of birth (birth certificate or passport).
  • Identity proof (driver's license or passport).
  • Proof of the end of any previous marriage.

After the Wedding

  • Three marriage certificates must be signed by the couple, celebrant, and two witnesses over 18.
  • The celebrant submits marriage paperwork to the registry within 14 days.

Name Change or Proof of Marriage

  • Apply for an official marriage certificate from the registry if you want to change your name or prove your marriage.

Same-Sex Marriage in Australia

In December 2017, Australia marked a significant milestone in its history by legalizing same-sex marriage. This monumental change was driven by a nationwide postal survey that overwhelmingly reflected the public's support for marriage equality.

The amendment of the Marriage Act 1961 served as a pivotal moment, marking a shift from traditional norms to a more inclusive legal framework. The revised definition of marriage recognizes it as "the union of 2 individuals, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others," explicitly acknowledging the right of same-sex couples to legally wed.

This watershed event not only reflects the evolving attitudes of Australian society but also signifies the establishment of a legal system that upholds the fundamental right of all individuals to marry, regardless of their gender. This transformative progress paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable future for all Australians.

Quickest Ways to Get Married in Australia

Fastest Normal Method (Around 30 Days)

  • Choose an authorized celebrant.
  • Submit the NOIM application ASAP.
  • Choose a date 30 days out.
  • Get married on the chosen day.

Getting Married with Less Than 30 Days' Notice

Shortening the Notice Period

  • Under special circumstances, the 30-day notice period can be shortened.
  • Categories include employment-related or travel commitments, wedding arrangements, medical reasons, legal proceedings, or an error in giving notice.

Getting Married Overseas

  • Abiding by Australian legal requirements, overseas weddings are recognized.
  • Options include New Zealand (3 working days' notice) and certain U.S. states like California with no waiting period.

Getting Married Online (in a different country)

  • Considered a way to get legally married, adhering to Australian legal requirements. Read on to learn more about how Courtly can help you get legally married online.

Courtly: Simplifying the Online Marriage Process in Australia

Courtly offers an accessible and effective solution designed for couples in search of a simplified marriage process. This innovative platform provides couples with the flexibility to oversee the entire procedure remotely, eliminating the requirement for extensive documentation. With Courtly's efficient system, couples can quickly acquire a valid U.S. marriage certificate, enhancing their matrimonial experience with convenience and ease.

Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Married Online in Australia with Courtly

Courtly offers couples the flexibility to complete the entire marriage process online, regardless of their geographical location. The acquisition of a valid U.S. marriage certificate is made efficient and prompt, often achieved within 48 hours, eliminating the need for extensive documentation.

Follow this step-by-step guide to utilize Courtly's services:

1. Create an Account

Initiate the registration process by clicking on the "Get Married" icon in the top right corner. Follow the provided instructions to create your account, granting you access to the platform.

2. Select Ceremony Details

Take decisive action by choosing the ceremony format, setting, and officiant. Depending on your preferred time and day, Courtly will pair you with a legally qualified U.S. officiant.

3. Payment Confirmation

After selecting your desired wedding package, complete the payment process. Await the confirmation email from Courtly, signaling the commencement of your wedding arrangements. Detailed information on available packages and add-ons can be found on the Pricing Page.

4. Virtual Celebration

Tie the knot online from the comfort of your home or any location with a reliable internet connection. The ceremony typically lasts around 15 minutes.

couple getting married remotely with a licensed officiant via zoom

Upon completion, you'll receive a digital copy of your U.S. marriage certificate promptly after the online wedding. A printed copy will be delivered to you within 1 to 2 weeks. Additionally, you can download your digital marriage license shortly after the wedding celebration.

Registration of Online Marriages in Australia

The rules for overseas marriage validity are outlined in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth). The Attorney-General's Department oversees Australia's policies on marriage and family law, including which overseas marriages are recognized. 

If your overseas marriage meets the following criteria, it's automatically recognized in Australia and you don't need to register it again:

  • It was validly entered into according to the laws of the country where it took place. This means it followed all the legal requirements of that country for marriage.
  • It would have been valid if it took place in Australia. This means it meets all the requirements for marriage under the Australian Marriage Act 1961.

While your foreign marriage certificate is usually sufficient evidence of the marriage, it may not be sufficient for changing your name. Contact your local registry of births, deaths, and marriages for further information on this. However, there are some exceptions to the recognition of overseas marriages:

  • If one of the parties was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
  • If either party resided in Australia at the time of the marriage and one of them was not of marriageable age (as defined by the Marriage Act).
  • If neither party resided in Australia at the time of the marriage and one of them was under 16 years old.
  • If the parties are related within certain degrees under Australian law, including relationships through adoption.
  • If the consent of one of the parties was not genuine due to duress, fraud, mistake, or mental incapacity.

Apostille certification for online marriage certificates

An apostille is a unique certificate that verifies the authenticity of a document for use in a country that recognizes the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. This essentially allows your marriage certificate to be recognized as a legitimate document in countries that adhere to the convention, including Australia.

Obtaining an apostille is not necessary for your Australian marriage to be valid. The marriage certificate itself serves as proof of the legal union. However, if you need to use your marriage certificate in another country that recognizes apostilles, you can obtain the certificate through various government agencies or specialized services like Courtly. The process typically takes 15-30 business days and involves verifying the signatures and seals on your marriage certificate.

It's crucial to stay updated on the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining an apostille in your jurisdiction. You can consult Courtly or relevant authorities for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Conclusion

While online marriages are not currently recognized in Australia, there are various options available for couples seeking a convenient and efficient way to get married. Whether you choose to get married online through a platform like Courtly or opt for a traditional ceremony overseas, it's important to be aware of the legal requirements and procedures involved. 

For couples considering online marriage in Australia, carefully research the available options and choose a platform that meets your needs and legal requirements. With the right planning and preparation, you can experience a convenient and meaningful wedding ceremony, regardless of location.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

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