I recently saw an episode of The Moodys about Terry and Yvonne’s wedding where things didn’t go quite to plan and before these two lovebirds could exchange their vows, Dan and Cora ‘stole’ not only their celebrant, but also their hot air balloon and their vows. How romantic…

But – unless Dan and Cora had lodged a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) at least a month beforehand, this would not have been a legal marriage.

For all those people who think it would be a lovely idea to spring a surprise wedding on their beloved, I’m afraid the bad news is that it simply isn’t possible in our country.

In Australia the law is quite clear. No one must feel as though they are being pressured into agreeing to a marriage. Even if you’re madly in love and are planning to marry and have already lodged your NOIM within the prescribed time frame, you can’t spring a surprise wedding on your beloved. If you suddenly decide that it would be a fabulous idea to surprise him or her at what they thought was going to be a birthday party or family picnic or any other occasion, by producing a marriage celebrant and telling them that you’re getting married here and now, please think again! The ‘surprisee’ may genuinely not want to get married at that precise moment for any number of reasons but might feel too embarrassed to say no.

However, if you are planning on surprising your guests by announcing that the engagement party/baby naming/birthday celebration they are attending is actually your wedding then that’s fine because it will be a decision you have made together. But use caution if family members aren’t present because they may very well be hurt and disappointed to have not been part of such a momentous occasion in your lives.

It’s great to be spontaneous, but if you’re thinking about having a surprise wedding, please discuss the ramifications with your celebrant first.

© Jane Gillespie


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