What you need to Legally Wed


Nau Mai! Welcome!

If you have found your way to this page you must be about to celebrate a Very Special Event in your life – your wedding. Congratulations!

We, The Team at the Grand Mercure in beautiful Monaco, Nelson, absolutely LOVE weddings. We have hosted hundreds of weddings, each as different and unique as the couple involved.

This means we have some great ideas to help make the journey to the altar easier and more enjoyable for you and your Beloved.
As part of sharing our knowledge with you we, The Team, have decided to start this Blog and I, Ange Sanders, have been designated Blog Writer. Why me, you may wonder? Well, I just LOVE weddings. Over the 18 years, I have been involved in hospitality I have hosted, oh, I don’t know, a Thousand weddings (well, maybe not that many, but you get the point). I have also been very-happily-married-thank-you-very-much for a Thousand years, and if in writing this I can help your pathway into the early years of your marriage a little smoother, well that’s a real bonus for me.

Over the weeks as this Blog grows I will cover all sorts of topics with you, such as:

  1. Budget
  2. Guests
  3. Types of Weddings (Traditional/ non-Traditional, Large, Small, Formal, Casual, Themes
  4. Family & Friends (and their roles)
  5. Menus
  6. Outfits
  7. Photographers
  8. Bridesmaids and other attendants
  9. Celebrants
  10. Gifts
  11. The Day itself
  12. Etc etc

And we’ll talk Love, Marriage and Relationships – why not cover all the big stuff too!

So let’s get started.

You have found The One for you.

You have dated a respectable length of time (somewhere between one year and the Nine Years I waited!), the Proposal has been made and Accepted – and now the fun begins!
The first question is – where do you start!

Organising a wedding, especially if you haven’t attended many (or any at all, as in the case of our goddaughter a couple of years ago) can feel overwhelming. Some people (like our daughter…) have been visualising their wedding since they were 4 years old. That certainly makes your starting points a lot easier as you have a very clear idea of what your day will look like. Others have simply never given it a thought.

I think the simplest way to start is with what the Bare Minimum Legal Requirement is for a couple to get married in New Zealand.

If you get this right, you can get married. Everything else is tradition, decoration or just plain fun.

According to The Citizens Advice Bureau and the Government Marriage Website (www.govt.nz) you need to do the following;

The Paperwork

  • The Marriage Licence
    A MUST! No Licence, no Marriage! It can be issued within 3 days (but Please don’t leave it that close!) so firstly you need to have decided where and when you want to get married. You need to do this before you can apply for a marriage licence as you can only get married where you stated on the form, so if you aren’t sure, have a backup venue just in case. Then decide what type of wedding you want – a civil ceremony at a registry office or a public ceremony held by an authorised Celebrant at the place of your choice. If you choose a public ceremony, your next step is to choose your Celebrant.
  • Applying for the Marriage Licence
    To do this you need to be at least 16 years old (Imagine!!) If you are 16 or 17 years old you need your parent or guardians’ consent. To get a licence you need to complete a NOTICE OF INTENDED MARRIAGE which can be found online at the DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS website. This needs to be paid when you return the form. You and your Beloved need to fill out a statutory declaration stating there is no legal reason why either of you may not be married, that all your details are true and that you and your Beloved are not closely related (that would be unfortunate…) This must be signed by either of you in front of a Registrar of Marriages. You can find your nearest Registrar by contacting the office of Births, Deaths and Marriages on 0800 22 52 22

Note: Marriage licences cost around $150.00 for a Celebrant and $240.00 in a registry office. A lot of people aren’t aware there is a cost for this form.

  • Once this process is complete, the Registrar will issue your marriage licence within 3 CALENDAR DAYS. The licence is VALID for 3 MONTHS and can be picked up from the Registrars office (or you can pay to have it couriered to you) So the thing to note here is DON’T APPLY TOO LATE AND DON’T APPLY TO EARLY!! Allow for delays (there always are!) and make sure you have this nailed at least a month out, so you can breathe!
  • If you are not living in New Zealand but intend to get married here you would be best to go to the website for Marriages at www.govt.nz and see what your requirements are.
  • When your Licence arrives, it will come with 2 copies of the Copy of Particulars. Give all 3 of these documents to your Celebrant before the wedding.
  • You will also be given a form for updating your details on the Electoral Roll (THAT’S when you know it’s for real!)
  • The service then takes place at the venue you specified in the presence of TWO WITNESSES (these can be any randoms, but personally I think you might want to put a little thought into who these two are…)
  • After the ceremony you and your witnesses will be asked to sign the two copies of the Copy of Particulars form – one for you to keep (proof!!) and one they’ll send to the department of Births, Deaths and Marriages so your marriage can be registered and then you can order a copy of your Certificate – woohoo!!!

The Service

Okay, so there are legal requirements for this too:

  • If you get married in a Registry Office, you have to use their standard wedding vows. You can’t write your own.
  • If you choose a Celebrant you legally have to say, at some point during the service “I (your full name) take you (Beloved’s full name) to be my legal (wife/husband/partner/spouse)”. Otherwise, you can any vows you wish to say.
  • Oh, and your witnesses can’t be intoxicated (It’s probably not a great idea for you either, come to that)

Other Interesting Info

In New Zealand, you don’t have to do anything special if you want to change your name after the ceremony and what you choose to do about your name is entirely over to you. You can:

  • Keep your last name
  • Take your spouse’s last name
  • Hyphenate or use a combination of both your last names

Cool aye?

So you don’t have to do anything legally other than updating the Electoral Roll. Just start using your new name if that is what you choose to do, and update paperwork as it appears and use your marriage certificate as proof of your new name.

And that’s all folks! That is all you need to legally Wed in NZ.

So now that you fully understand all that, it’s time for the Fun Stuff!

Check out our 18-month wedding timeline guide >