😇 You're reading a free article from The Celebrant Institute, a membership program by Sarah Aird and Josh Withers. Members get to read all the articles, ask for advice and coaching on running a sustainable celebrancy business, and ask urgent marriage law questions.

Become a member today for $10 a month

Kelly asks:

What do we legally have to say? Just read guidelines and act section 45/46 and I’m reading we only need to say monitum and a couple the legal vow. I read/was trained that we have to introduce ourselves as the celebrant with the lucky job of marrying the shit outta the couple before us…but do we actually have to? I’m looking at making my intro less formal and hoping I’ve read it right.

Kelly’s on to something here.

To save you digging out your copy of the Marriage Act, let me copy and paste what has to happen before a marriage is solemnised (created/began)

the authorised celebrant shall say to the parties … “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” or words to that effect.

Now we’re ready for some good old fashioned marriage solemnisation. Keep an eye out for all the times that the law says you have to say “I do”:

Where a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant … it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other … “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse” or words to that effect.

And just in case anyone is confused, the Marriage Act then goes on to say:

Where a marriage has been solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, a certificate of the marriage prepared and signed in accordance with section 50 is conclusive evidence that the marriage was solemnised in accordance with this section.


Avid readers of the Celebrant Institute already know that ultimately it is up to the celebrant to comply with all of the requirements of the Act despite how they choose to read the Guidelines.

So I’ll give you a loose Wedmnesday-night Josh-interpration of what the Act says a celebrant should say.

G’Day Cobbers, I am a marriage celebrant which means I am authorised by Australian law to marry people according to the law. As the two of you enter this marriage it’s important that you know the value and nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. It’s the two of you, together, forever, full stop.

To go back to Kelly’s question I would say that a Commonwealth authorised marriage celebrant has to say the following in a ceremony:

  • what authority they have
  • what that means to the people getting married

Or words to that effect 😉