A celebrant asks:

When I first enrolled in my course, my Dad asked if I’d solemnise his wedding in December 2018. Of course I said I’d be thrilled if I passed and got authorised. I’ve now completed my Cert IV and applied for registration.

My dad and his fiancée are adamant they want me to do the ceremony (even if it means delaying the proposed December 8 ceremony), so I’ve asked a celebrant who lives near me to accept the NOIM, so it’s easier to transfer it to once I’m registered. My friend has only been a celebrant for a year, so he’s never done a transfer or interstate NOIM. I want to make sure I have all the steps correct. 

Adding to the complication is that my dad and his fiancée are currently living in different states due to work. Can you tell me if I have all the following steps correct:

1. Party 1 fills in the NOIM and has it signed by a police officer (or other authorised witness)

2. Party 1 posts the physical NOIM to Party 2, and scans or posts photocopies of supporting documentation (in this case an Australian passport)

3. Party 2 fills in the NOIM and has it signed by a police officer (or other authorised witness)

4. Party 2 emails a copy of the NOIM along with scans of all supporting documentation (ie both passports) to Celebrant 1 (my friend) in order to make the deadline

5. Party 2 posts the physical copy of the NOIM to Celebrant 1 via registered post

6. Once Celebrant 2 (me) is registered, Celebrant 1 transfers the NOIM, and makes the appropriate marks on the NOIM

7. Celebrant 2 must bring the physical NOIM to the wedding and witness the supporting documentation (passports) before the ceremony commences

Is that right? Does Celebrant 1 have to witness the physical passports as well? I’m guessing that even though the ACT is accepting scans of documents at the moment (according to what you said on your podcast), because of the need to transfer the NOIM around there will need to be a physical copy.

Also how do you transfer a NOIM? It doesn’t seem to specify exactly what you need to do in the Guidelines. I saw you mentioned that the proposed new NOIM has a spot specifically for this, but in the meantime, could you maybe post an example on the CI? Does it need a covering letter? 

What about other changes, like a date or venue change? Or is this filled in just before the ceremony? To be honest, I’m also a little confused about when the celebrant is meant to fill in certain sections on the NOIM, because all the exercises in the Cert IV was about handing in the fully completed paperwork.

This celebrant is absolutely on the right track, but I made a few tweaks to the process and responded like this:

I would be inclined to leave out steps 2, 3 and 5. A celebrant can accept a NOIM that is signed by only one party, and they can accept it by email to meet the lodgement timeframe, so to avoid all the posting (and potential losing) of the NOIM, this is what I would do:

  1. Party 1 fills in the NOIM and has their signature witnessed by a police officer or GP (not a pharmacist or physiotherapist; those come up a lot and they’re not authorised witnesses).
  2. Party 1 emails a scanned copy of the NOIM along with scans of all supporting documentation (both passports and any divorce or death certificates from previous marriages) to Celebrant 1 to meet the deadline.
  3. Party 1 KEEPS the original NOIM, with instructions to bring it to the wedding.
  4. Once Celebrant 2 is registered, Celebrant 1 transfers the emailed copy of the NOIM by forwarding Celebrant 2 the email he received from Party 1, and stating in the email that he’s transferring it to Celebrant 2.
  5. At the wedding, Celebrant 2 receives the original hard copy NOIM from Party 1, has Party 2 sign it, sights the original supporting documentation, and has both parties sign the DONLIM before the ceremony (of course this could be done on the day before etc if you’re going to see them before the day). Celebrant 2 would need to write on the original hard copy in the “date notice received by celebrant” box the date Celebrant 1 received the email with the signed NOIM attached, not the date Celebrant 2 received the original hard copy.

Celebrant 1 does not need to sight the original supporting documentation if they’re not doing the marrying; it’s just good practice for them to look at the docs when the NOIM is received to make sure there’s nothing wrong with them or missing that might need to be followed up before the wedding.  

Don’t trust me on the ACT receiving scanned copies of the documents; I saw a screenshot of an email on Facebook, I didn’t receive the email myself, so make sure you check with ACT BDM once you’re registered about how they want you to submit documents. 

In terms of transferring the NOIM, there’s actually no process at the moment, but in this case Celebrant 1 can do it electronically because that’s how he’s received it. If he had received the hard copy, really all that needs to happen is that when Celebrant 2 receives it, they write in the blank space on page 4 (under the section for recording details of divorce/death certificates) “Transferred from [Celebrant 1 Name] to Celebrant 2 Name], received on [Date]”. Don’t worry at all about covering letters, BDMs hate them. They generally don’t really care too much about transfers, as long as the document is legible and legal, it’s all good.

The box on page 3 with date and venue recorded is For Celebrant’s Use only; many people don’t fill in that box at all. If there are any changes to the date or venue you can just cross them out and write in the new details, or you can leave it as is. 

Everything needs to be filled in before the ceremony except the following information on page 4:

  • Rites used
  • Date marriage solemnised
  • Place marriage solemnised
  • Celebrant’s number
  • Celebrant’s signature

That stuff is all to be completed after the ceremony. There’s a handy checklist in the back of your Guidelines that tells you what needs to be completed when, so it might be useful for you to print out a few copies of that and put them in each of your client files 🙂 The new NOIM actually has different sections on it, clearly marked “Before the ceremony” and “After the ceremony”, so that will be much easier to use.