What names can be used in the minimum wedding vows?

What names can be used in the minimum wedding vows?

Subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the minimum words (or vows) which must be used by the couple for a non-religious (civil) ceremony to be a marriage ceremony: Section 45 Form of ceremony …(2)

Where a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other, in the presence of the authorised celebrant and the witnesses, the words:

“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 or spouse)”… or words to that effect.

Why is using the minimum vow wording so important?

The minimum vows set out in the Marriage Act are important and not complying may give rise to concerns about the validity of a marriage. The safest course of action for celebrant solemnising a marriage is to avoid any such issues by complying with the guidance on the vows set out below. While a couple is entitled to rely on the certificate issued by the relevant state or territory BDM as evidence that the marriage was registered and that it was solemnised in accordance with the vows in section 45, that does not mean that non-compliance with the requirements for vows may not become an issue for a couple in individual cases.

What names should be used in the vows (meaning of the terms ‘A.B.’ and ‘C.D.’)?

Commonwealth-registered celebrants (other than ministers of religion), and State and Territory Officers, should use the parties’ full names (usually given name/s and surname) at some stage during the ceremony, preferably early in the ceremony, for the purpose of legal identification of the parties.

The full name of the parties will be the names recorded in the NOIM. Where full names (as they appear in the NOIM) have been used earlier in the ceremony, it is not necessary for surnames to be used in the minimum vows. This is because the identity of the parties to the marriage has already been established. Couples may choose to use their first, or first and middle, names only. Nicknames alone should not be used for the vows. However, shortened names or nicknames may be added to the names used in the vows. For example ‘...I, Elizabeth Jane (Liz), take you, Peter John (Buddy)...’. Nicknames may be used elsewhere in the ceremony, on the condition that full legal names have been used earlier in the ceremony.

As always, should you have any questions about the legalities of weddings in Queensland or Australia, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes

Trudy the Brisbane Marriage Celebrant x