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Bridal Club Magazine

New Zealand Weddings - What Are The Legal Requirements For Marriage?

Have you ever wondered what the legal requirements are for marriage in New Zealand and how you actually go about obtaining a marriage license? We give you some straightforward answers to some commonly asked questions, plus a reminder list of organisations to contact to give change of name details to once you have married.

What can stop us from getting married?
Any New Zealander sixteen years of age and over may marry. However, if you are under the age of twenty you will require the formal consent of your parent/s or guardian/s. There are restrictions to whom you can legally marry, for example - close family members are not permitted to marry. Refer to the Intention to Marry form that must be filled out prior to obtaining your marriage license to see a list of these restrictions.

What if I have been married before?
You will need proof in the form of a court document that has legally dissolved your former marriage.

Why do I need witnesses?
The ceremony must be held with at least two witnesses who will sign the legally binding marriage certificate. This is usually the Best Man and Matron/Maid of Honour however it is not necessary that the bridal couple know them. The only requirement is that they need to be old enough to know what the implications are of the task they are doing.

Where can I get married?
You are entitled to marry anywhere and anytime that is agreed upon by you, your fiancé and the celebrant. If it is a public place, you may need to get permission by the local council. It is necessary to state on your marriage license exactly where you plan to hold the ceremony and give a second option - just in case it rains if you have planned an outdoors ceremony. If for some reason, your location changes after you get your marriage license - you will need to have it amended by a Registrar of Marriages before your wedding takes place.

What if we want to get married at a registry office?
Registry weddings are a basic legal ceremony that takes in the Registrars office during working hours. If you do not have at least two witnesses with you, court employees can stand in for them. The fee for a Registry Office wedding is NZ $120.00. This also includes the Registrar's fee and the cost of the marriage license. If you are planning to re-celebrate your ceremony in a church or other venue at a later date - you must present the Certificate of Marriage to your celebrant to avoid having it recorded as another marriage.

So how and when do I get a marriage license?

  • Firstly, you need to have made a decision about who is going to perform your wedding ceremony whether a registry wedding, at a church or elsewhere. If you haven't done this already, you can find a list of names of registered celebrants by looking in your local telephone directory under the Justice Department. Ministers can be contacted the church of your choice and if you are looking to be married by an independent celebrant- check our wedding services directory for one in your area.
  • You also need to know where your ceremony is going to be. Traditionally, weddings are held in the bride's hometown when her parents are the hosts. However, it is perfectly acceptable to have the ceremony in a wide variety of places, the only limit is your imagination.
  • The marriage license is issued by any Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages Office and must be obtained before your wedding takes place. Here you are required to fill out a (BDM60) Notice of Intended Marriage Form available either at the office, or by phoning 0800 22 52 52. Alternatively you can download it from the Births, Deaths and Marriages website. Your completed form will need to be returned with the NZ$80.00 fee and any other documents that may be required such as a marriage dissolution form. This will need to be done in person by at least one of you, so that the statutory declaration can be signed in the presence of the Registrar. The license will then be issued within three days of this process and is valid for three months from that date providing it is carried out at the stated time, date, location and by the celebrant you have named.

When do we get the Certificate of Marriage?
Your celebrant will have two copies of this, which will be signed by both of you at your ceremony, along with your two witnesses. At the end of the ceremony, the celebrant will give you one copy, and keep the other copy for the Births, Deaths and Marriages office. You may also be required to sign a book recording the event at the church. Extra copies of your marriage certificate can be obtained through the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It will need to be shown when changing name details on your bank accounts, passports etc.

We have prepared a basic handy reminder list of people and organisations you will need to consider contacting to change your name.

  • Inland Revenue
  • Work and Income NZ - To stop or alter details for benefits
  • Land and Transport Office - Department of Motorvehicles - Drivers license and car registration
  • NZ Post - change of address and to hold your mail while on honeymoon
  • Power/Gas company
  • Telecom or other phone service provider
  • Department of Internal Affairs - passports
  • Electoral Roll - This is usually automatically done when you change details through NZ Post
  • Bank
  • Private Financial Institutions
  • Insurance Companies
  • Medical Organisations
  • Memberships
  • Subscriptions


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