Coalition of Celebrant Associations

Australia’s Peak Celebrant Body

Key changes to the Marriage Act 1961

Dear associations

On 9 December 2017, the Marriage Act 1961 will be amended to redefine marriage in Australia as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. The right to marry under Australian law will no longer be determined by sex or gender.

The department has published a webpage providing information about marriage equality in Australia:

Emails are being sent to all marriage celebrants about the changes to the Marriage Act.

The key changes to the Marriage Act will include:

  • The definition of marriage in section 5 of the Marriage Act will be changed to provide for marriage equality. 

  • It will be legal for same-sex couples to marry in Australia. Persons who are transgender, intersex, of an indeterminate sex or non-binary gender will also be able to marry. 

  • The usual requirements around giving a Notice of Intended Marriage form (NOIM) will continue to apply; the NOIM must be given to an authorised celebrant at least one month prior to the wedding ceremony, unless a shortening of time has been obtained from a prescribed authority. The earliest a same‑sex couple can give a notice is 9 December 2017. 

  • New marriage forms must be used from 9 December 2017. Celebrants can continue to use existing stock of Form 15 Certificates of Marriage, provided the certificate is appropriate for the particular couple they are marrying. The new marriage forms are available at, and both the forms and new Form 15 Certificates of Marriage are available from CanPrint Communications. A fact sheet (Changes to marriage forms and certificates) has been prepared on the changes to the marriage forms. 

  • Changes will be made to the vows and monitum to reflect the new definition of marriage. The new vows and minimum must be used for weddings solemnised on or after 9 December 2017. A fact sheet (Changes to marriage ceremony requirements) has been prepared explaining these changes. 

  • There will be a new subcategory of ‘religious marriage celebrants’. Religious marriage celebrants will be identified on the Register of Marriage Celebrants and may refuse to solemnise a marriage if their religious beliefs do not allow for the solemnisation of that marriage. 

    • All existing marriage celebrants who are ministers of religion will become religious marriage celebrants. 

    • Existing marriage celebrants who solemnise civil marriages and have religious beliefs will be able to request to be identified as a ‘religious marriage celebrant’. Written notice must be provided to the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants between 10 December 2017 and 9 March 2018. This period is mandated by legislation. There will be no extensions of time or exceptions. 

  • A factsheet (New subcategory of religious marriage celebrant) has been prepared explaining the new subcategory of ‘religious marriage celebrants’ and the process for providing notice to the Registrar. 

  • Applicants seeking to become a marriage celebrant will only be able to be recognised as a religious marriage celebrant if they are a minister of religion. 

  • All marriage celebrants will be required to indicate in any document relating to the performance of their services as a celebrant (including advertisements) whether or not they are a religious marriage celebrant. This will be a new legal requirement under paragraph 39G(1)(d) of the Marriage Act. The requirement applies to marriage celebrants and religious marriage celebrants.
Further information on the changes to the Marriage Act and the Marriage Celebrants Programme is available via

If you have any further questions once you have read the website and factsheets please contact the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section on 1800 550 343 between 10am and 1pm and 2pm and 5pm AEDST Monday to Friday or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bridget Quayle
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