have questions about weddings/civil Unions ?

A fantastic ceremony demands a big imagination, good time-keeping skills and confident speaker who can also manage the audience, and provide leadership and guidance. Here’s what it is all about…

  1. First Meeting:
    This is a no obligation meeting (or Skype call) where you can decide if I connect with you and you would like me to perform your ceremony. With all ceremonies like weddings/civil unions, name giving ceremonies, etc, we discuss the date, venue, fees, and share any ideas that you may have. I give you advice about the legal aspects of the ceremony (weddings/civil unions). I ask that you let me know within 2 weeks of this meeting if you would like me to be your official celebrant.
  2. Second meeting:
    This is where ceremony format is planned and discussed. Care and detail will be taken to prepare the ceremony to meet your requirements. Specifics such as the writing of vows, appropriate readings/poems (if required), extra ceremonies (a ceremony within the wedding ceremony like candle lighting, or wine unity ceremony for example) and exchanging of rings will be looked at as well as the order and format of the ceremony. Once I have understood what you require, and I am able to provide a quote I will ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit to secure your booking. I then write your personalised ceremony based on your needs and wishes, and adjust as necessary. Depending on the size and requirements of the ceremony, this can take days to several weeks.
  3. Draft ceremony compiled and sent via email:
    Couple are to approve/add to/make changes:
    Following our face to face meeting (this may also occur via Skype or phone if you aren’t in Auckland) and within an agreed time frame which will allow plenty of time, a draft ceremony will be compiled and sent to the couple for adjustment or approval.
  4. Finalise wedding ceremony:
    Final copy is emailed and approved by couple.
    This is the finalising of exactly what will be read out during the wedding ceremony. This is the final copy, however it is still subject to any required changes that might be needed before the actual day of the wedding.
  5. Rehearsal (if required):
    I try to plan this 2-3 days before the wedding. At this point I will check with you that the Marriage/Civil Union Licence has been applied for, the final details of the ceremony are discussed, and the balance of payment made.
  6. On the day:
    I arrive about an hour before you do, check the sound system, check the setup, liaise with the photographer and any other important people who will be involved. I will solemnise the ceremony.
  7. After the Ceremony:
    I register your Marriage/Civil Union with the Department of Internal Affairs.

Your Marriage/Civil Union ceremony must be performed by a Registered Marriage/Civil Union Celebrant or Registrar of Marriages/Civil Unions.
The ceremony must be witnessed by at least two people.
The words “I take you to be my husband, wife or life partner” (or similar words) must be spoken by both parties.
At some point during the ceremony it is a legal requirement that I state both persons full legal name. If you are divorced, and are still using your divorced surname, this is the name I must legally say, and the name you will sign on the licence. Abbreviations and nicknames may then be used in other parts of the ceremony.
The bride, groom, life partners, registered celebrant, and the two witnesses all must sign the licence forms.
The witnesses do not have to be adults, children are fine to sign the licence, however it must be understood that the child must fully understand they are signing a legal document, and must be old enough to understand what they are signing if they are ever recalled on a legal basis. I can discuss the issues with children signing the licence with you at our first or second meeting. The witnesses do not have to be a New Zealand resident and does not have to be English speaking, however, there must be someone available to interpret to them that they are signing a legal document, and they must understand what they are signing in the event that they are ever recalled on a legal basis.

A very important question! You have to apply to the Department of Internal Affairs for the Marriage licence and the documents that will be signed at the ceremony by yourselves, the two witnesses and the celebrant (only one of the people who is getting married or joining in a Civil Union has to do the application). You can find them online – ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ form or ‘Notice of Intended Civil Union’ form, which includes a statutory declaration that both parties are free to marry or enter into a civil union with each other and that all the details supplied on the form are true and correct.

You need to apply at least three working days, and not more than three months, before the ceremony. Please allow extra days if you are applying at the end of the week as the weekend does not count as part of the 3 days before the ceremony. These documents are only processed on working days. One of the parties must appear before the Registrar in person to sign the statutory declaration. If you are divorced you will need a copy of your divorce certificate/s – take this with you when you collect and sign for your licence. You will need to know the celebrant’s full name, the celebrants registration number, the venue details and a backup venue. I don’t advise leaving it until 3 days prior to the event though.

You can have a ceremony on any day of the week at any time of the day, there are no restrictions. You must provide the address of two venues for the day and on the licence there is space for two venues. If you are planning an outside ceremony, you need to have an inside option to accommodate the possibility of wet weather. Even if you are marrying inside, you must provide a second venue in the event that the ceremony cannot take place in the first building. If you are choosing a public place for the ceremony the local council need to be advised.

Auckland Council (Greater Auckland, Manukau and Waitakere) – 09 301 0101
Thames – Coromandel District Council 07 868 0200 – 07 868 0200
Hauraki District Council – 07 8628609
Rodney District Council – 0800 426 5169

NZ councils: http://www.lgnz.co.nz/nzs-local-government/new-zealands-councils/

Here is link to the website where you can access all of the information to apply from outside of New Zealand.


No, you don’t have to exchange rings. Some couples choose to exchange other gifts, like a necklace. In NZ it is quite popular to buy your loved one a Pounamu (NZ Greenstone, typically a necklace, but not limited to a necklace) of significant meaning to you and choose to exchange this on the day instead. Other couples choose to have a symbolic finger tattoo. You can choose instead to perform an extra ceremony that is symbolic to you as a couple rather than exchange rings. An example of this is the Blessing of the Hands, or a Hand Tying Ceremony.

No, you don’t, but there is a legal aspect to all Wedding/Civil Union ceremonies where you must legally acknowledge that you are marrying the other person (or are joining together in a Civil Union). The words “I take you to be my husband, wife or life partner” (or similar words) must be spoken by both parties. If you have vows, but are to nervous to speak them, I can do this on your behalf, either by reading them, or getting you to repeat them.

Email: anne@annebesley.co.nz

Mobile: 021 644 539

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