A Complete Guide to Getting Married in Australia

There is no doubt at all that Australia is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Just imagine all that open land, the diversity in natural resources, and the cool structures in its major cities that show a mix of different cultures and tastes. These are the things that make Australia the best place for any event, especially for weddings.   It could be at one of the most popular spots around Australia’s biggest cities, or it could be at a remote spot that could lend you its solace. It all depends on your tastes and preferences.   But over the excitement about the possibilities that each venue presents, there is so much more to consider, so much more to think about.   Here is a guide of the things that you would have to figure out the moment you start planning your “I do’s”.   Image Credit: Ryan Polei   The Budget   It’s easy to let your excitement set in and imagine which dress goes well with some random theme you want. And knowing how many fine venues you have all around Australia, it’s even easier to imagine what kind of décor you want and how many people you’re inviting.   But then reality sets in and you realize that there’s just no way for you to afford it all. Even if you can actually afford a lavish wedding, it’s important to put a few limits into your spending.   This is one thing that couples-to-be always forget in their rush to create the best wedding ever – it always starts with the budget.  
    • Figure out how much you’re willing to shell out in total.


Having a fixed overall budget could help you make more solid decisions. Once you know that you have a ceiling amount that you just can’t over, it’s going to help you prioritize the more important things as well.


Look back at weddings you’ve been to before, as well as weddings featured in magazines and wedding or event websites. Ask around how much people spent on these weddings so that you can see if you can afford as much, if you can afford more, or if you’d rather spend less than that.

    • Figure out how much you’re willing to spend for each part of the wedding.


The dress, the venue, the food, wedding stylists – it’s always better to have a set budget for each of these elements. This way, it’s easier to stay within the overall budget. Check out the range of prices for each service that you’ll be needing and decide on a price range for each.


Make the price range as tight as possible. For example, don’t make the price range for the dress $400 to $1000 – that’s too big of a range, making it harder for you to decide on a dress. Because of the huge number of choices. Go for either $400 to 700, or $700 to $1000. This way, you have a closer gap to close.

    • Figure out a list of priorities.


Make a list of priorities according to which areas of the budget you can be flexible with. If, for example, it all came down to a battle between a signature gown and an exclusive garden venue, and you have very little budget left, it will be easier for you to decide whether to opt for a cheaper gown just so you can afford the venue, or vice versa.


You can lock down a one or two aspects that you believe to be the top priority. This way, if these two go over the projected budget, it would be easier to cut back on everything else. You can also make a priority list that ranks the most important factor down to the least important, so that in case you need more budget from the one on top of the list, you can always take a bit of the budget out from the one at the bottom.

    • Figure out what alternatives you have.


A fabulous wedding doesn’t have to be expensive. Remember that.


There are always a few good alternatives that would help you pull your overall budget even lower. For example, if you have crafty friends who are willing to help, maybe you can DIY the whole thing instead of hiring an expensive events stylist. Instead of a signature gown, find someone who may not be as famous but makes rocking gowns as well. They may be able to replicate the feel of the gown, or design an even better one.


The total price tag doesn’t matter the moment you walk down the aisle. People are not going to care if you spent thousands on that chair they’re sitting on and the food they’re eating. And even if they wonder about how much you spent, the wedding is about you, not them. Let them think what they want to think and say what they want to say.


Image Credit: Ashley Deason

Remember that your budget will dictate pretty much your every move the moment you decide to get married. However, you should also remember that you have an entire life ahead of you, so it’s important not to overspend as well.

  Design and Styling Ideas   Look for inspiration from wedding blogs, wedding magazines, and even weddings that you have previously attended.   A word to the wise though, make sure that when you try to come up with design and styling ideas, do not just go for what’s trending now or what other people have done. Make sure you choose themes and colours that match your personality, something that would make the wedding truly yours.
    • Theme


Your wedding theme will be the basis for a lot of your design choices – from your shoes and dress to the décor, you have to make sure that everything is consistent, everything aligned.


You may want to have a rustic wedding, where rugged meets traditional. You could even have one of those whimsical wedding reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. In both cases, a garden venue would be perfect.


You could also opt for a modern wedding, and even go for that industrial look. This is perfect for couples who pride themselves on being outgoing or professional, contemporary couples who live for today.

    • Palette


Choosing the right colours for your wedding will add the brand of character that would give the whole wedding its own personality. Notice how the mood and feel of the entire wedding can change as you experiment with different colour combinations. It can go from having an upbeat tone to having that sophisticated vibe the moment you change the hues.


This is why it is extremely important to choose your colours well.


These colours will not necessarily be used on every single thing, though. They can be used as highlights against neutral backgrounds. It all depends on how dramatic you want the effect to be.


Image Credit: Salim Fadhley

Some couples would rather hire professional event stylists like The Style Co., who can help you get everything together hassle-free. So if you have the resources to do so, you can leave the styling to the experts. The Vendors Who’s going to provide all the services you need? Your choice of vendors can make or break your wedding, so make sure you choose them well. Aim for that delicate balance between cost and quality. Pay them too low, and you may only end up being extremely disappointed with the results. Pay them too high, and you might end up overspending and using up way more than your original budget. Before approaching any vendor, list down things that you would like. For example, you might want your photographer to cover your pre-nuptial shots as well, aside from the actual wedding coverage. If you’re looking for a particular dish, then list that down too under your caterers. If you have a decent list of wants and needs from every single vendor, it’s going to be easier to cross possible vendors off of your list the moment they do not match up with your requirements.  

Image Credit: Ryan Polei

  The Paperwork   This proves to be one of the most important things that you would have to accomplish, preferably a couple of months before the actual wedding.   What is the criteria that would make you fit to be married in Australia?  
  • Both parties should not be married to anyone else

  • Should not be marrying a parent, a brother/sister, a child, a grandparent, or a grandchild

  • At least 18 years old, although the courts may grant special permission if one of the parties to be wed is between 16 to 18 years old

  • Should have a clear understanding of what marriage means and should be doing it through their own free will

  • Should send the written notice that they intend to be married to an authorized celebrant within the timeframe required

  • Should use specific words during the ceremony

Yup, there’s nothing on the list of requirements that says that you should be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident for you to get married here. That means that no matter where you’re from, you can enjoy the perks of having the Australian outdoors as your backdrop as you exchange “I do’s” with your significant other.   Here are the things that you would have to take care of in getting all your paperwork completed:  
    • Choose a marriage celebrant.


Only an authorised celebrant can perform legal wedding ceremonies in Australia. The office of the Attorney-General has a list of celebrants that you can choose from.

    • Submit a Notice of Intended Marriage.


The Notice of Intended Marriage should be submitted to the celebrant at least a month before your actual wedding date. For those who love getting started as early as possible, you can submit the form up to 18 months prior to your special day.


In case you are unsure of how to fill out the other parts of the form, you can also ask for your celebrant’s assistance.

    • Give your celebrant other information needed.


The celebrant will definitely ask you for a few other things other than your Notice of Intended Marriage. You would have to submit proof, for example, that you have not had any previous marriages that are still in effect. And if you have been married before, then you would be asked to prove that this marriage has been legally ended.


Other paperwork like proof of when and where you were born may also be required.

Please take note that this is only for the pre-wedding preparation.   After the actual wedding ceremony, you will also have to sign three marriage certificates. Aside from you, these certificates would also have to be signed by the celebrant and at least 2 witnesses. One copy of the certificate will be yours.   It is usually your celebrant’s duty to have your marriage registered within 14 days. From there, a certificate that is officially issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages will be used for a number of official purposes, so it is best that you apply for a copy as soon as it is ready.   Making Your Wedding Planning a Breeze   Wedding planning isn’t easy. The process itself can be very tiring not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. In fact, some couples don’t even make it to the altar – the stress of the planning gets to them, causing the entire relationship to fall apart.   This is why it is important that you both learn how to handle this well. After all, being married means that you would have to spend the rest of your lives together (hopefully). If you can’t handle something like this, then how else would you be able to survive a lifelong marriage?   Here are a few tips that could help make the burden a little lighter for you.  
    • Personalize your checklist.


Sure, there are a lot of checklists that you can download online. However, these are mostly very generic, with items that may not even apply to you.


Take a generic checklist and look at the points that apply to you. The rest of the items? Get rid of them.


Now add things that you want to include in your wedding preps, the ones that were not included in the original checklist.


For example, if you wanted to do a mob dance in the middle of the reception, might as well add that to your checklist now. You don’t see a lot of couples doing this, so that’s definitely not going to appear in a regular wedding planning checklist. But because it’s something you and your partner would do just because, then might as well add that in.

    • Keep everything in a notebook.


Have a notebook or journal where you can write every single detail in. Have this with you everywhere you go.


Trust me, there are always going to be moments when you suddenly think of an awesome idea. If you don’t list it down the moment you think of it however, it would probably be gone from your mind the moment you get home.


This would also be helpful in trying to focus on what’s important. Organize your notebook into different sections, so that you would know what pages to go to in case you need the exact details for the wedding programme, or would like to go through the guest list one more time.

    • Set aside the right amount of time to plan.


Even if you started your wedding planning early, don’t be too laid back because time flies by so quickly, you might wake up one day surprised that you have so much to do but so little time left.


At the same time, do not use every single second to plan the wedding. It should only be done a few hours per week. Letting it eat up too much time would make the entire process stressful not only for you, but for everyone around you as well. This could also put a strain on your relationship with your husband- or wife-to-be.

    • Divide the to-dos.


The bride isn’t necessarily the only person responsible for the wedding planning. The husband should be a very visible part of it as well.


Have a clear list of things to do and divide the tasks according to the strengths of each person. After all, this is exactly what’s going to happen the moment you guys are officially married. Someone has to do the dishes on certain nights, and someone has to take care of picking up some milk from the store. Might as well get some practice as early as now.

    • Be open to suggestions.


Everyone has a dream wedding that they have pictured in their mind. But what if there was a way for that mental image to look even more fabulous?


Sadly, this would not be possible if you were to be close-minded about everything.


Be open to suggestions and hear other people out before shutting them down. There’s no need to say yes to the suggestion. The important thing is that you try to factor that suggestion in before dismissing it completely. Who knows? It could turn out to be something wonderful that you never thought of.

    • Be firm in what you want.


Yes, you have to be open to suggestions. But that doesn’t mean that you try to accommodate everything thrown your way that you end up letting go of what you want.


This is still your wedding and not anyone else’s. Be firm with your non-negotiables, as long as you’re sure that these non-negotiables are in the right place.

    • Keep your papers in order.


You do not want to have a perfectly styled wedding and not having the right to proceed with the ceremonies just because something has gone wrong with the papers you submitted. Make sure you keep all the paperwork in order as early as possible so that if anything needs to be changed, you would have enough time to work your way around the problem.

    • Step away and take a break.


Sometimes, the wedding planning takes its toll on the people involved that instead of a fun process, it ends up turning into a nightmare.


There will be moments when you feel that you’ve had enough. No matter how long your to-do list is, allow yourself to take a breather. Step away from it all and do something you enjoy. You can eat out, or meet up with friends for a few drinks. Anything to release all that pent-up stress.


The next day, you’ll find yourself refreshed and ready to do more wedding planning without having stress cloud your judgment.

So are you all set to get married?
Rica J

I am a mother, a wife and a technology loving Filipina who loves reading hi-fiction books (dragons!) , good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut. I am born and raised in the Philippines and now resides in Australia but finds myself in the Philippines for at least 3 months a year. I am part of the Filipino Australian Community and have been living between Australia and the Philippines since 2007.


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