Can you have a second marriage ceremony?

The answer to this is a categorical NO. For some couples this can be very disappointing because for various reasons they may have already been married without their families’ attendance and they want to have a big celebration ceremony at a later date to include those who missed out.

According to Australian law you cannot marry again if you have already been through a marriage ceremony (unless you have divorced in the meantime). So while it is understandable that you don’t want to disappoint nearest and dearest, if you are already married your only option is to have a Reaffirmation ceremony.

This can be just as meaningful as a marriage ceremony and include everything except the legal wording. The celebrant is obliged to inform the guests that it is not a legal marriage ceremony and this can be done by saying something along the lines of, “Bride and Groom were married on such-and-such a date (because…) but today they want to publicly reaffirm their love for and commitment to each other before you, their family and friends, who were unable to be present at their legal ceremony.”

You can then go on to tell their ‘story’, include readings if they choose to, have them exchange rings again and reaffirm their vows to each other, thus making it very personal and meaningful. While there are no legal documents to sign, I always design a beautiful certificate to commemorate the occasion and this can include spaces for the couple and their chosen family members or friends to sign.

So don’t be too disappointed if you have planned a big wedding, and it turns out for whatever reason you cannot make it a legal marriage ceremony, your special day can still create beautiful long-lasting memories for you and your families.

Jane Gillespie –

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Good advice for brides

Marry someone who lets you have a bite of their brownie, even when you said you weren’t hungry.

Marry someone who is proud of you whether you earn $5 a week or $5,000 a week.

Marry someone who you can tell everything to.

Marry someone who isn’t afraid or embarrassed to hold your hand in public.

Marry someone who wraps you up inside their coat in the winter.

Marry someone who accepts your fears and phobias.

Marry someone who gives you butterflies every time you hear their key in the door.

Marry someone who you don’t always have to shave your legs for.

Marry someone who accepts you all day every day, even when you don’t look or feel your best.

Marry someone who doesn’t make you want to check your phone, because you know they will reply.

Marry someone who understands that you need to be alone sometimes.

Marry someone who gets on well with your parents and isn’t uptight about family events.

Marry someone who calms you down when you get mad about stupid stuff, and never tells you it’s “only stupid stuff”.

Marry someone who makes you want to be a better person.

Marry someone who makes you laugh.

Marry someone who you love.

Marry your soulmate, your lover, your best friend.

Quote from Relationship Rules (

Jane Gillespie – Life Celebrations

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Pre-marriage education

I’ve just discovered Sheryl Paul, an American counsellor and therapist who runs, among other things, an e-course on how to give your marriage the best chance of success.  Pre-marriage education is always desirable and if you don’t have time to attend a face-to-face course this could be very helpful.

Sheryl has a fabulous blog as well on her Conscious Transitions website where she shares her wisdom on many topics, relationships included.

Here’s an article by her that appeared on Mamamia yesterday:

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Married by SHERYL PAUL (reprinted with her permission) 

If we offered couples an instruction manual to help contextualise and normalise the challenges that arise in any intimate partnership, I can only imagine how different our divorce rate would be.

When we don’t understand what’s normal, it’s easy to assume there’s something wrong with us, our partner, or our relationship. From there, it’s often a downward spiral to breakup or divorce.

Here are 10 things nobody tells you about marriage, a mini-manual that can help you understand what’s normal (and even necessary!) for a marriage to thrive.

1. Marriage doesn’t complete you.

Contrary to Jerry Maguire and the implicit messages embedded in statements like “finding the One” or “your other half,” a healthy marriage consists of two whole people who partner to create a third body of their marriage. In other words, one plus one doesn’t make one or even two; it makes three. You are responsible for your own aliveness and wholeness, and your partner is responsible for his or hers.

  1. You won’t always feel attracted to your partner.

Even if we know this intellectually, when lack of attraction hits in marriage most people panic. We’re a profoundly image-based culture and we’re taught through mainstream media that if you’re not wildly attracted to your partner, you’re with the wrong person. That simply is not reality.

We see our partners in many different lights — from elegantly dressed for a special event to retching over the toilet bowl. Even over the course of a day or an hour, attraction can fluctuate, and that’s completely normal. Knowing this can alleviate much needless anxiety so that you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of “What’s wrong?” 

  1. You won’t always like your partner.

His jokes will drive you crazy. Her laugh sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. That’s simply the way it is when you spend that much time with one human being. We allow for this when it comes to friendships and family, but with partners, we absorb a fantasy that we’re supposed to like everything about each other all the time.

  1. Being in love is a stage of relationship that doesn’t last forever.

The romantic model says: “You meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after.” We skip over an essential stage: falling out of love. As one of my clients shared: “I had to fall out of love before I learned what real love is all about.” This is something rarely talked about in the mainstream.

And if you didn’t have an infatuation stage, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed! Some people have it and others don’t, and there is absolutely no correlation between having an infatuation stage and the success of a marriage. 

  1. Love can grow with time and effort.

We also grow up believing that you’re either in love or out of love; there’s nothing in between. And we believe that love is quantifiable and a fixed amount, meaning that you can measure it — “Do you love your partner enough?” — and that what you have in the beginning is all you’ll ever have.

The truth is that real love grows over time. Love begins as an empty garden that requires attention and care, and when it’s thoroughly watered and the weeds are pulled, the flowers will blossom over a lifetime.

  1. You don’t have to feel love to give it.

In our culture that says that love is only a feeling, it’s easy to feel confused when the loving feelings fade. Then we balk against advice that says, “Fake it til you make it.” But sometimes, you have to act as-if in a long-term relationship, meaning that even if you don’t feel like giving your partner a good morning kiss, you do it anyway.

  1. Sex is a sacred act of giving and receiving.

It’s sad and often detrimental that we’re offered zero guidance about one of the most complicated aspects of being human: our sexuality. We learn from pop culture, peers, and now, increasingly, from pornography, that sex is something you use to gain approval, validation or security. Healthy sex is none of those things. Loving sex is an expression of love, an act of connection where you practice the arts and skill of giving and receiving.

  1. Marriage is a crucible designed to help you grow.

Marriage isn’t “happily ever after.” It isn’t the end of the road, the resting spot for eternal happiness. Marriage is one of the most challenging and rewarding paths we can commit to as human beings.

As such, it will activate every element of unshed grief, unattended fear, unfinished transition and it will bring to light the fear and false beliefs you’ve absorbed from your first blueprint and the culture about love. Knowing that the going is supposed to get rough can give you fortitude when you want to walk out the door.

  1. Your first blueprint for intimate partnership informs how you approach your marriage.

If you witnessed a healthy marriage growing up, you’re much more likely to naturally implement the principles and actions required for marriage success.

On the other hand, if you witnessed a marriage characterised by criticism, nagging, distance, arguing, or abuse, you’ll have to fight your template at every turn.

It’s not easy work, but just because it’s work doesn’t mean you’re with the wrong person. If you’re with a loving partner, the work is a sign that you’re pushing up against your dysfunctional or limited blueprint and it’s an invitation to create a new legacy of healthy partnership.

10. Life with young children is stressful.

That’s it: it’s stressful, overwhelming, rich, and beautiful — and it will put a strain on even the best of marriages. I often think it’s a small miracle that any couple survives parenting intact, as there’s such a demand on time and filling needs other than your own that the marriage is sure to suffer.

Knowing this can help you weather these challenging years, while remembering how important it is to find time to nurture both yourself and the marriage, no matter how small.



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How much do you know about civil marriage ceremonies?

Civil marriages are rising every year (currently around 70% of all marriages in Australian), I believe because people want a greater choice in what can be included in their ceremony.

A civil wedding ceremony is far more than basic words and procedures, although some of these are essential to fulfill legal requirements. It is the extras that a dedicated marriage celebrant will help you with to make your ceremony uniquely representative of you and your relationship.

Many brides and grooms tell me at the end of their first obligation-free meeting, that they had no idea how much is involved in creating a personal and meaningful wedding ceremony. Most know what they want but they’re not sure how to achieve it.

Couples who come to see me already know what I charge because my prices are on my website but I do still get occasional phone calls from people who have found my name somewhere and just want to know “how much”.

I recognise that most couples are on a budget and that they need to be able to factor everything into the total they’re prepared to spend. I do find it surprising though that quite a few people don’t realise that an experienced professional civil marriage celebrant will spend as many hours as it takes to present them with the ceremony of their dreams. Sometimes people genuinely think that a celebrant just turns up for 30 minutes on their wedding day, whereas the truth is that most of us will spend anything from six to 30 hours on every ceremony that we help to create.

You might pay $500-$2000 for your wedding cars that will only be with you on the actual day, many hundreds of dollars for your wedding cake that will be eaten or your flowers that will die. However your ceremony should be something you remember for the rest of your lives as you pledge yourselves to support each other through good times and hard times and to work together to make your marriage last for the rest of your lives. Your celebrant is the person who will help you design the words that reflect everything you want to share with your families and friends, so it’s worth investing in someone you trust to do this for you.

Even if you genuinely only want something really simple, a good celebrant will make sure that your ceremony is heartfelt, meaningful and personal to you.

It’s important that you have a rapport with your celebrant so it’s a good idea to meet several face-to-face before you make your final decision. Ask any questions you like about their experience, e.g. how long have they been a celebrant, do they stay up to date with professional training, do they belong to a professional association, have they got insurance, what resources do they offer, how much input can you have yourself in the creation of the words used in your ceremony? Talk to each other afterwards to see if you both felt comfortable with this particular celebrant and believe that they would easily guide you through all the legal paperwork as well as working with you to come up with the kind of ceremony you have envisaged.

Never feel pressured into making a choice straight away, but once you have made up your mind, book your celebrant as soon as you’ve confirmed your reception booking. Experienced celebrants are often booked a year or more in advance so it’s important not to leave this important decision to the last minute.

Sydney Marriage Celebrant –  JANE GILLESPIE

T: 61 2 9908 1702 | M: +61 412 643 751

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Elements of a Wedding Ceremony

Most couples aren’t very familiar with the format of a marriage ceremony; what must be included for it to be legally recognised, and optional elements that can be included to make it more personal.  The following is a suggested outline.

The Processional

Traditionally the Groom and any attendants wait at the focal point of the ceremony and the Bride enters with her Father/Mother/other significant person or people. However, the Bride may walk in on her own or Bride and Groom can walk in together. Another option is for everyone to simply gather together, including the couple, and the Celebrant will announce that the ceremony is about to start.

The Welcome

This puts your guests and ease and is an opportunity for the Celebrant to welcome them and make any special acknowledgements.

Introduction and Background

The Celebrant can talk about the couple relating how, when and where you met (not everyone will know everything about both of you), what you love about each other and what marriage means to you. This is a part of your ceremony where your unique relationship can be acknowledged, if you wish to include it.

The Giving Away or Family Blessing

The Bride and Groom can decide if they want to include the traditional giving away. Some brides ask both parents to give them away; some couples ask both sets of parents to welcome their new son/daughter into their families. You can even include your guests and have them asked to publicly bless of the marriage.

Monitum (essential)

The Monitum is comprised of wording that explains what marriage is according to the law and must be spoken by the Celebrant; these words cannot be changed.

The Asking, Legal (ESSENTIAL) & Personal Vows, Readings, Ring Exchange, extra rituals

These can be in any order, although the Celebrant will guide you on the best ‘flow’ for your ceremony. The legal vows are prescribed and you cannot change the wording but you may say whatever you wish to each other in your personal vows. Readings can be poetry or words of a song that have special meaning to you both, or someone might compose something original.

There are a number of rituals that can make the ceremony special. You might like to include children of the bride and groom, family members or friends. Some rituals that can be included are Blending of Sands, Rose Ceremony, Lighting of Candles, Hand Fasting, or Tree or Flower planting ceremonies

Declaration of Marriage

The Celebrant declares you to be husband and wife!

Signing of the Marriage Register (essential) and Announcements

The bride, groom, their two witnesses and the Celebrant sign the legal documents.

When announcing that the documents are to be signed, the Celebrant can advise the guests regarding a bridal toast, the function venue, photographs or any other information that is relevant.

Presentation of Bride and Groom

The Celebrant will close the ceremony, present the marriage certificate and finally introduce the bride and groom as Mr and Mrs Married Couple.

Always remember that it is YOUR ceremony but be mindful that your Celebrant has a lot of experience – so do be open to listening to suggestions he or she might offer.

(c) Jane Gillespie, Civil Marriage Celebrant

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Changing Your Name after Marriage in NSW

(Article courtesy of

 As your wedding day approaches you may be bouncing around a new name in your head. Changing names can often make a bride a little sad at the loss of her former name, so it’s perfectly natural to want to hold onto your old name, or even ask your husband if he wants to change names! Over 80% of Australian brides go onto change names, with the vast majority taking their husband’s name and dropping their own surname.

The name change process is simple and straight-forward. After the wedding your celebrant lodges the marriage record with NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Once this is processed your marriage certificate can be ordered. This usually takes 2-4 weeks to be available and a fee is payable directly to BDM. You can order in person at the BDM office, or download a marriage certificate order form online. This costs just over $50.

On your wedding day you receive a commemorative marriage certificate. While many companies will accept this as proof of your marriage name change, most government departments and banks insist on seeing your original BDM certificate or a certified copy. Your BDM certificate has additional security features that helps safeguard your identity.

Once you have your BDM marriage certificate it’s recommended you update government issued photo ID first, such as your driver’s license. This needs to be done in person at any license issuing office. You can then show your updated driver’s license at many places as proof of your new name.

You can update your passport at this stage if you don’t have any pending international travel. If you have flights booked under your maiden name you should not change the name on your passport until your return. The passports office will reissue your passport in your married name free of charge provided you lodge your application within 1 year of your wedding, and provided your passport has at least 2 years remaining. Otherwise full renewal fees apply.

Next, get your financial records updated. Banks with large branch networks always require you to visit in person. Be sure to take your original BDM marriage certificate, bank ATM or credit cards and photo ID. An appointment is usually not necessary.  ING direct have a name change form for you to complete, have certified at a post office and return by mail. For all other banks contact them directly to learn the process.

Medicare cards must be updated in person. Take your original marriage certificate and photo ID. You can also have your name appear on the same card as your spouse by completing the Medicare Transfer form. Both husband and wife should sign the form. While the form can be returned by mail, name changes must be done in person, so it’s best to take the form in with you when changing names.

From this point most name changes can be done in writing and brides will all have differing companies to update. Your list should include phone and internet, pay TV, utilities, insurance, super, loyalty and frequent flyer clubs. Download a comprehensive checklist here.

Contact each company directly to ask their name change procedure, what proof is required (some companies may accept a photocopy of your driver’s license instead of your marriage certificate, or not require any proof). Some companies may need you to send a letter or a fax, so make sure you get the address. You may also be required to return a form. Name change kits, like the one from, provide all the necessary forms and paperwork and give you the name change procedures for over 400 Australian companies.

However you decide to change names, aim to get all your records updated within 2 months of starting as it can become difficult when proving your identity. It’s also worthwhile hanging onto some back records and expired photo ID under your old name should you ever need to prove your old name.

If you have any questions about changing names, speak to the professionals at for obligation free name change advice.

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I always answer enquiries about my services as soon as I possibly can and if I’m available on the date a prospective couple have asked about I advise that I will keep this open for them for a certain period of time.  I ask if they want to arrange an obligation-free meeting to discuss their ceremony so they can make a final decision about whether I am the right celebrant for them.

If I don’t hear back within the specified time I send a courtesy follow-up email or make a phone call to see whether they are still making up their minds or if they have already booked someone else.

However, I am often dismayed by the lack of courtesy shown by prospective clients because I rarely hear back from couples who have made a booking with another celebrant.

As a professional I know that I won’t win the booking every time and I have no problem with people going elsewhere.  But surely it is only polite to let me know, rather than leave me hanging.

So Brides and Grooms, please – just send a quick email or even a text message to let me know if you don’t want to go any further with me so I can open your date up for other enquiries.

Good manners cost nothing and I like to be treated the same way that I treat others – with respect.

© Jane Gillespie 2013                                                                                               

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