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  • Elaine Spearman

How do I get married in New Zealand?

There are three key steps to getting married in New Zealand: pre-ceremony, the ceremony and post-ceremony.

Most of us probably have no idea what the actual process is until we finally decide to take the plunge. The good news is that it’s very straightforward.

Before taking the necessary steps, you need to decide whether you want a personalised or a registry wedding.

If you opt for a personalised wedding, you’ll also need to decide who your wedding celebrant is, where you’re holding the wedding and the date, as these pieces of information are required when you apply for your marriage licence.

Anyone in New Zealand can marry if they’re legally free to do so and 18 or over. However, 16 and 17-year olds can also marry but require consent from a Family Court judge.

Applying for a marriage licence: pre-ceremony

This is your responsibility.

You can apply for your marriage licence either electronically or by using the paper- based version. The necessary documentation and how to apply is available from Department of Internal Affairs.

All the information you require is on the website and it guides you every step of the way. It’s very easy to use but if you want any assistance your celebrant can help you. The site also explains the difference between a personalised and registry wedding if you’re unsure what type you want.

You must have your marriage licence prior to getting married.

Couples may apply no more than three months before the date of the marriage and no less than three working days. A wedding licence expires after three months. If you’re having a personalised ceremony rather than a registry one your celebrant will send you a reminder to apply for your licence at the appropriate time.

Once you’ve applied, you’ll be sent your marriage licence and Particulars of Marriage, which you must send to your celebrant as they’re required for the legal aspects of your wedding ceremony. Another very important pre-ceremony step is that your celebrant must verify your identity before the ceremony takes place.

Your celebrant takes over: ceremony

With your marriage licence all sorted, it’s now up to your celebrant to look after the other legal aspects of your wedding ceremony. They are responsible for a range of things such as checking you’re having a consensual marriage, ensuring your full name is used at least once within the ceremony, officiating over your wedding vows and the signing of the marriage documentation.

The documentation you sign on your wedding day is the Particulars of Marriage and there are two copies. These are signed by the couple, your two witnesses (which you must have), and your celebrant.

Finishing touches: post ceremony

Your celebrant will ensure a signed copy of the Particulars of Marriage is sent to Birth Deaths and Marriages (BDM), for your marriage to be registered. You’ll also be given a copy of the signed Particulars of Marriage for your own records. This is the responsibility of the celebrant, so you don’t have to worry about any of this.

If you’ve pre-ordered your marriage certificate when applying for your marriage licence that’ll arrive once BDM has registered your marriage – this can take up to 14 days. Having a marriage certificate is particularly useful if you want to take on the surname of your spouse.

Getting married in New Zealand is easy, but there are a few steps you need to take.

I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to know more, so please get in touch.

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