It is important to get the legalities out of the way in plenty of time before your wedding ceremony. There are two ways to get married or have a civil union in New Zealand.

Either by a registered marriage celebrant (and you can choose):
When and where you’ll get married
To write your own vows
A religious or independent celebrant

Or in a registry office:
Ceremonies held within normal office hours 9am to 4pm
Use standard vows (you can’t customise the ceremony)

The next step is to get a marriage licence, which can take as little as three days, but don’t rely on this as you may need to allow more time if your situation is out of the ordinary. A marriage licence application (otherwise known as a BDM60 Notice of intended marriage), can be obtained online from: www.bdm.govt.nz, or from your nearest marriage registrar office. If you’re being married by a celebrant, you’ll need their name, the location and approximate date of the wedding when you apply. After you are officially married, your celebrant will register the wedding and give you a copy of the ‘particulars of the wedding’. You can then apply for a marriage certificate.

Legal Checklist for Weddings:
– Check your wedding celebrant is formally registered (for the wedding to be legally binding) at: www.bdm.govt.nz
– The marriage licence must be signed on the wedding day by the bride and groom, two witnesses and the celebrant
– You must marry at either of the two places noted in your marriage application
– During the ceremony, at some point you need to say words that indicate that you take each other as husband and wife (or as appropriate in the case of same sex marriages)
– Your full names must be used when making the declaration
– You must be over the age of 16. If you are 16-20 years of age you need the signature of one of your parents or guardians.
– To check the costs for a marriage licence application, go to: www.bdm.govt.nz for an update.
– If you have been married before, or are from outside New Zealand, other paperwork may apply