With Police Officers and JPs being the most popular witnesses to notices of intended marriage forms when a celebrant cannot attend the witnessing, and with many celebrants unable to attend a meeting to sign a notice of intended marriage because of social distancing directives, the Attorney-General’s department is investigating an alternative.

One alternative being investigated at the moment is the ability for a celebrant to witness a NOIM remotely.

The Marriage Law and Celebrants Section said:

Due to recent legislative measures, it may be possible for a responsible Minister to temporarily adjust arrangements for meeting documentary requirements under Commonwealth legislation. These adjustments would only be for a specified time period in response to circumstances relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of Celebrant Institute members Sarah and I responded to the request for consultation positively, endorsing the idea, with two additions:

  • that this change to NOIM witnessing to be extended past the COVID-19 time period,
  • plus we would argue for a re-definition or a new understanding of “presence” as to allow marriage solemnisation to occur over video conference (as has recently been approved in New York).

To clarify, in case you’ve skimmed and not read everything – as of Monday April 20, it is not allowable by law to witness a NOIM online. The possibility is merely being investigated by the MLCS and we’ll be the first to let you know if it becomes lawful.

Personally, I think that weddings over Zoom have a real place in our country’s future. They may not be for everyone, but the beauty of Australia is that there’s room for everyone’s different tastes and ideas.