How to Get Married in NZ

How to Get Married in NZ

We have spent lots of time talking about how there is no right or wrong way to get married, but today’s blog is all about what you legally need to do in order to get married in New Zealand.

Step 1 – Get Engaged!

I know, I know, this part is obvious.  But in order to get married in New Zealand, you need someone to marry.  We are a country that supports same-sex marriage (woohoo!) and so there are only a few limitations on who you cannot marry.  These are on the back of the application form for your marriage licence.

Who is marrying you?

You have 2 options … the Registry Office, or by a Registered Marriage Celebrant at a location of your choice.  There are both independent celebrants and organizational celebrants (associated with a Church or other organisation) and how much they charge is up to them, and can vary from free to over $1000.  You can search for a celebrant online.

Please note: You MUST have a registered celebrant to get married outside of a Registry Office.  The process to become a celebrant can take 3 months, so it is recommended you choose someone who is already a celebrant rather than hoping your friend or family member will be appointed in time and running the risk of not being able to legally get married.

Apply for a Marriage Licence

In order to apply for your marriage licence, you need to state your ceremony venue.  You can provide a back up venue (in case of bad weather or a change of plans) but once the licence is issued, you must get married at the venue stated on the licence.

To obtain a marriage licence you need to fill in a BDM60, then take it to your local Registrar of Marriages, sign a statutory declaration and pay the fee.  The licence can take up to a week to be processed and it’s only valid for 3 months, so ensure you apply at the right time. 

When you receive back your Marriage Licence and your Particulars of Marriage (2 copies), you will need to give these to your celebrant.  The licence allows your celebrant to marry you, and the Particulars of Marriage are what you sign on the day.

Get Married

During the ceremony you must say ‘“I [name] take you [partner’s name], to be my legal [wife/husband/partner]” (or something similar) at some point in the ceremony.   Your full names must be used at least once during the ceremony and you need to make vows to each other.

Both copies of the Particulars of Marriage will be signed at the ceremony by both of you, your celebrant, and 2 witnesses. 


The final part to registering your marriage is for your celebrant to return one copy of the Particulars of Marriage to Births, Deaths and Marriages.  They will do this following the ceremony. 

Note: On the back of the Copy of Particulars of Marriage, you can fill in payment details to have a Marriage Certificate sent to you as soon as your marriage is registered.  This is highly recommended as most places require your Marriage Certificate in order to change your name.  It’s also a great way to ensure the marriage has been registered.

What's My New Name?

Now that you’re legally married, you have four names you can go by. If you are Jane Doe and your husband is John Smith, you can be Jane Doe, Jane Smith, Jane Doe-Smith and/or Jane Smith-Doe.  You can start using any of these options immediately – you don’t need to do anything to legally to use one of these options.  You can also use more than one option ... maybe you want to have one name at work and one name at home - that's totally ok too!

For more information, check out the Government website for a great step-by-step guide. 

Need clarification?  Ask your celebrant!  They are a wealth of knowledge around the legalities. 

Is there anything still confusing you?  Ask below or send me an email.

Happy Planning!



Posted: Wednesday 14 September 2016