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Getting married in New Zealand

Fifty years ago marriage in New Zealand could only take place between a man and woman in a church by an ordained minister or in the local registry office. No such thing as getting married in a park or a winery or on the beach by an independent celebrant.

Fifty years ago marriage in New Zealand could only take place between a man and a woman in a church by an ordained minister or in the local registry office. No such thing as getting married in a park or a winery or on the beach by an independent celebrant.

In 1967 small town New Zealand, your intended marriage at the local parish was posted as the banns on the notice board and read out in church. Parishioners learning of your intended nuptial could advise the minister if there was any impediment and that the marriage shouldn’t proceed. The then Christian marriage service included the words ‘if any man can show any just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.’

Today marriage in New Zealand is legal for all persons over the age of 16 years, straight or gay. We’re an egalitarian country and world leader when it comes to equality. Getting married here is easy and straight forward. If one or both parties are between 16 and 18 years of age, they need the permission of their parents, guardian or a family court judge.

Marriage can take place on any day of the week - anywhere, anytime - by an Independent or Organisational Celebrant or a Marriage Registrar – as long as the venue and the name of the appointed celebrant or registrar is on the marriage licence. If you're planning an outdoor wedding say in a park or at a beach, you must also provide an indoor alternative to cover any weather issues.

Over half of all marriages in the past year have been conducted by an independent marriage celebrant, a quarter by the church or an organisational celebrant and the rest at a registry office. NZ Internal Affairs that governs and administers Births, Deaths and Marriages, is expanding this business unit to record key life events. This will see the introduction of an online application service for marriage licences which will speed the process up. Couples will still need to present themselves at the appropriate registry office to sign and uplift their marriage licence.

On May 22nd 2017 new licence fees were introduced and of note are…

Marriage or Civil Union Licence – solemnised by a marriage or civil union celebrant - $150
Note the marriage/civil union celebrant fee is in addition.

Marriage or Civil Union Licence and solemnisation by a registrar $240.
If outside normal office hours an additional $55.

It is possible to apply for a marriage or civil union licence from overseas and complete it on arrival in New Zealand.

The legal part of a marriage ceremony requires a couple to each say their full name at some point in the marriage ceremony and that they take their partner to be their lawful wedded spouse. Two witnesses have to hear that plus the marriage celebrant who then pronounces the couple to be married.

It's a good idea to apply for a Marriage Certificate. This can be ordered on the back of the marriage licence posted back to the registrar by your celebrant. You should receive it within 3 – 4 weeks. This certificate is proof that you’ve been lawfully married in New Zealand and it is officially recorded at BDM.

I trust this is helpful information.

Jo x

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