Civil ceremony or church wedding?

Civil ceremonies are becoming increasingly popular in Australia, however, you may decide to opt for a church ceremony that reflects tradition or your religious background. But what’s the difference? 

Civil ceremony

A civil ceremony is a non-religious wedding ceremony performed by a civil celebrant, who must be licensed by the Attorney-General.

A Notice of Intended Marriage must be filled out and lodged with an authorised marriage celebrant at least one month and one day before your wedding date and must be signed in front of the celebrant.

You can book a celebrant up to 18 months before your wedding date and they do get booked up quickly, especially if you want to wed on a Saturday.

When you meet with your celebrant you will need to provide identification. If you were born in Australia you need to bring your birth certificate.

If you were born outside of Australia you must provide your passport or naturalisation certificate. If you have been married before you need to produce a decree absolute or death certificate if your previous partner has died.

Two adult witnesses are required at the ceremony and the locations are almost endless; a hotel, winery, the beach, a park, even your own garden.   

Church wedding

Some couples feel that a wedding would not be complete without a church and although it is the bride and groom’s decision, you may need to consider the religious backgrounds of both sides of the family, especially if they’re different.

A Notice of Intended Marriage must also be filled out and lodged with an authorised marriage celebrant at least one month before your wedding date, and you’re required to provide birth certificates and sign a Statutory Declaration regarding your marital status.

Many churches require you to attend a marriage course to help prepare you for married life.

Church weddings have become more flexible and you can now personalise the service by writing your own vows and having some input into the order of service, including (pre-approved) non-religious readings and (appropriate) music, performed by a soloist, choir or the church organist.