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How to Apply for a Shortening of Time

If you've decided to get married, you need to give an authorised marriage celebrant at least one calendar month's notice of your intended ceremony date. This is done by completing a by completing lodging a a Notice of Intended Marriage or "NOIM".

A shortening of time means that a celebrant can solemnise a marriage less than one calendar month after receiving a couple's NOIM. .

A celebrant cannot authorise or apply for a shortening of time, this needs to be done by the couple (or one party of the couple).

The following information is correct as at June 2021. Reference/Source: Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for authorised celebrants.

A "prescribed authority" needs to authorise a shortening of time.

A prescribed authority may authorise a marriage to be solemnised despite the celebrant receiving the NOIM within one month of the date of the marriage

Your closest prescribed authority is most likely the Registrar at your local court.

Only the following circumstances will be considered for a shortening of time:

  1. employment-related or other travel commitments

  2. wedding or celebration arrangements, or religious considerations

  3. medical reasons

  4. legal proceedings, or

  5. an error in giving notice.

These reasons are set out in Schedule 3 to the Marriage Regulations.

Schedule 3 provides examples of each of the sets of circumstances.

Whether a particular situation falls within one of these is a matter for the prescribed authority, not the celebrant. A celebrant cannot inform you whether your application will be successful or not.

If a celebrant is asked to perform a ceremony with less than one month's notice:

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act outline that the celebrant must ensure that the couple's NOIM is correct and then refer the couple to a prescribed authority.

" The celebrant should explain the following key points to the couple:

  • the reason for seeking a shortening of time must fall within one of the prescribed categories (described above) before the application can be considered

  • a prescribed authority has no discretion to grant a shortening of time outside the circumstances covered by these categories

  • the granting of a shortening of time is not automatic

  • a prescribed authority may charge an application fee – celebrants should suggest that the couple check if a fee is charged when making an appointment with a prescribed authority.

  • The celebrant should also advise the parties to the marriage to make an appointment with the prescribed authority and to take the completed NOIM and any other documentary evidence to prove why they require a shortening of time (for example, medical certificates or a travel itinerary).

  • This is the only circumstance in which a celebrant can release the completed NOIM to the parties to the intended marriage. Parties must return the NOIM to the celebrant after a shortening of time is obtained." (The Guidelines on the Marriage Act, pp 23-25)

A shortening of time is not guaranteed, even if your circumstances fall within one of the five categories.

Materials you will need to support your application for a shortening of time:

Couples should gather together all supporting materials and evidence to support their application, before approaching the prescribed authority.

For example, the material should include a letter from a medical practitioner if the couple is seeking a shortening of time on medical grounds.

The prescribed authority will consider things like the dates payments were made or invitations sent, to gauge the genuineness of the need to shorten time.

If the circumstance relates to relocation for employment, the prescribed authority will seek evidence of the date on which the applicant was informed of the posting or employment relocation, as opposed to the date on which the posting is to commence (unless the posting or employment relocation has been brought forward).

If applying for a shortening of time due to "Error in Giving Notice"

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act (pp 23-25) outline that "error in giving notice" online relates to error on the part of the celebrant, not the couple.

e.g. the celebrant has not fulfilled their obligation to explain the notice requirements properly; the celebrant has lost the NOIM; or the person the NOIM as given to, was not actually a celebrant.

If the couple, for example, forgets to lodge the NOIM, or sends the NOIM to the wrong address, a shortening of time will not be granted on these grounds.

Prescribed authority granting a shortening of time

"If the prescribed authority is satisfied that the relevant circumstance for shortening the notice period to less than one month has been met, they will make a note in the box provided at the foot of the NOIM on page four, sign it, add their designation and the words ‘Prescribed Authority’ and write the date.

The original NOIM should then be given by the parties to the celebrant before the marriage is solemnised." (Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961, pp 23-25)



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