1) Are you eligible to get married in New Zealand?
You can be a heterosexual or a same-sex couple, marriage is open to almost anyone in Aotearoa New Zealand. You do not need to be a New Zealand citizen to get married here. There are only a few restrictions on who is able to get married in New Zealand:
— To get married in New Zealand, both you and your partner must be at least 16 years old. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you will need consent from your guardians.
— You cannot get married if you are currently in a marriage or civil union partnership. If you have previously been married or in a civil union, you may be asked to provide evidence of the dissolution of your previous marriage or civil union (eg. a divorce order). If your previous partner has died, you will be required to give the date of their death.
— You cannot marry someone you are closely related to by birth, marriage or adoption.
2) Decide where you will get married
In New Zealand, an approved marriage celebrant can marry you and your partner at the time and location of your choice. A list of approved marriage celebrants can be found here at https://celebrants.dia.govt.nz/
You will need to contact and confirm your marriage celebrant and agree on a time and place before applying for your marriage licence.
If you choose to get married at a registry office, your wedding will need to take place in normal office hours.
3) Who can perform the wedding ceremony?
The person who officiates your wedding must be an approved marriage celebrant. Many religious and ethnic communities have dedicated community members who can perform this role. There are also a number of independent marriage celebrants. A current list of Marriage or Civil Union Celebrants is available at www.bdm.govt.nz.
As a registered Marriage and Civil Union Celebrant, I am legally able to marry you. You can click here to find out more about me and the ceremonies I perform.
4) What is a marriage licence?
You need to a marriage licence to get married in New Zealand.
A marriage licence is issued to you and your partner by Births Deaths and Marriages after you submit your Notice of Intended Marriage application form.
The licence contains the details of the people getting married, the time and place the wedding will take place, and the person conducting the marriage ceremony.
A marriage licence is valid for 3 months from the date it is issued. During that period you can marry at the place specified on the marriage licence. An alternative place of marriage may be specified on the licence. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, you can specify a backup plan for a rainy day.
5) How do you get a marriage licence?
First, you and your partner need to complete the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ form, which can be found here at the Department of Internal Affairs. If you and your partner usually reside outside of NZ, you will need to complete this form.
You will need to know the date and venue for your wedding and who is conducting the ceremony before you submit your application.
This document includes a declaration that both you and your partner are free to marry or enter into a civil union with each other and that all the details supplied on the form are correct.
You and/or your partner must appear in person before a Registrar at your local Births Deaths and Marriages office to sign the statutory declaration.
When you submit your application, you will also need to pay the required fee. The current fee is NZ$150 if you are getting married by an approved celebrant or NZ$240 if you get married in the Registry office.
It will take at least three days for your marriage licence to be issued, so make sure to get your application in on time.
When you receive the licence, you will also receive two copies of the “Copy of Particulars” which will be signed during your wedding ceremony. You can pick these up during working hours from the Births Deaths and Marriages office where you submit the forms. If your wedding is at least 2 weeks from the date the licence is issued, you can make arrangements for these documents to be couriered to you.
You or your partner will need to give these three documents to your celebrant before the ceremony.
Following the wedding, you keep one copy of the “Copy of Particulars” and the celebrant returns the other copy to Births Deaths and Marriages so your marriage can be officially registered.
6) What are the legal requirements of a wedding ceremony?
You must have your wedding ceremony at one of the places stated on the licence before the licence expires.
Your relationship must be solemnised by either an approved celebrant or a Registrar before at least two other witnesses.
The full names of the bride, bridegroom or partner must be used at some point in the ceremony to clearly identify each party. Abbreviations and nicknames may then be used in other parts of the ceremony.
During the ceremony, you and your partner must say the words “I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife/husband/partner” – or words to similar effect.
The couple, the celebrant and the two witnesses must all sign both copies of the Copy of Particulars.
7) Who can be our witnesses and what do they do?
You will need two people to formally witness your marriage by signing the Copy of Particulars during the ceremony.
There is no minimum age requirement for witnesses, but they must be able to understand what is happening during the ceremony, be of sound mind and should not be intoxicated.
If you are unsure, your celebrant can help you determine whether it is appropriate for a particular person to be a witness.
8) How do we get a Marriage Certificate?
Marriage Certificates may be obtained from Births, Deaths and Marriages by making an application. Each certificate costs $26.50.
You can talk with your celebrant about ordering a Marriage Certificate by completing the back of the Copy of Particulars that is sent to the Registrar. If you choose to do this, a copy of your Marriage Certificate will be sent to you when your marriage is registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages.
9) What do we do after the ceremony?
You get to celebrate the rest of your wedding day and enjoy married life!
After the ceremony, the celebrant will give one Copy of Particulars to you and send the other one to the Registrar so the marriage can be registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages.