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Legals Only Weddings

With everything going on in the world right now, it may be some time before we can gather friends and family for a wedding in the way we’ve always dreamt. More and more couples are considering still marrying on their intended marriage date with a legals only wedding followed by a “Happily Ever After Party” or “We Do, Take Two” with loved ones at a later time!You still get married, with an official marriage certificate, you can save on costs, you can do it your way with your own vows and you can even wear your dress twice. There are lots of great reasons why you should do this too.Here Adelaide Marriage Celebrant Deb Lilley explains why getting married without a traditional wedding or bringing your planned marriage date forward rather than postponing due to unforeseen circumstances is a fantastic idea – and not just because you can do it whilst wearing your PJ’s.


Are you Legally Married if you didn’t have a party to celebrate? (Answer: Yes.)

Having a registry office wedding means you still receive a marriage certificate and hence you are legally married.

Many couples are choosing to have a legals only wedding even though it’s not exactly what they were originally planning. I guess it comes down to the question of when a global pandemic hits, are weddings and the big celebration that they entail still important? Or is the act of getting married, and being married, more important than the party?

Photo Anderbay


For the first time in Australia’s modern history, wedding ceremonies have been or are still banned for short periods of time in most States and Territories. For eighteen months, between 2020 and 2021, various restrictions on social gatherings throughout Australia have meant changes to the way wedding receptions and parties have been able to happen.

Couples have been forced to cancel, postpone, or change wedding plans, often multiple times, as they ride the ever-changing king tide of imposed restrictions.

Historically it’s been a time of rapid change, and the modern world is coping with an unrepresented attack on social activities not seen since the World Wars. Not since the rationing and blackouts of these wars have our social activities been governed by Government restrictions, and fears for safety, and our health and well-being on a worldwide scale.

So, why get married with all of this going on? Why not wait until you can have the party you always dreamt of?

Celebrant Lisa Laker Photo Mad Rose Films


Ask yourself this, how long would you wait for the perfect wedding of your dreams? And can you put life on hold for an unknown time?

Or have you considered the alternatives of getting married perhaps without family and friends, and maybe having a Marriage Registry style wedding, or a legal marriage paperwork only wedding?

With a Civil Marriage Celebrant, you can get legally married anywhere, and on any date (obviously within the restrictions at the time).

You can choose the location: your home, a celebrant’s office or local scenic locations are all popular choices.

You can choose how many people are there: close family and friends, or no guests at all – it’s completely up to you. You can even have strangers as your witnesses if you want a true elopement.

Photo Anderbay


In modern times, the word ‘elopement’ is used to refer to a wedding ceremony where the couple get married without family and friends in attendance.

Not so much secretive as the elopements of the past that the word once referred to, as couples ran away to Gretna Green in Scotland, but often more about avoiding the incredible logistics and astronomical costs that often come along with planning a wedding ceremony and reception.

The legal requirements for marriage in Australia are that a couple must marry with an authorised person, in front of two witnesses over the age of eighteen. But they do not need to know these witnesses, you can bring your own or even use a photographer, videographer, venue owner, or even a passer-by as witnesses.

Often referred to as a ‘Legals Only Marriage’, it takes as little as four minutes to be legally married. The Celebrant says some legal words. You both say some legal vows. And you two, your two witnesses, and your Celebrant all sign three documents.

Really – that’s it – it is that simple!


The huge draw card of an Elopement or a Legals Only Wedding is that it is solely about you and your lover.

‘YOU get to do YOU! Well, to be more accurate, you and your lover get to do ‘US’” Photo Kate Nutt Photography

It’s not about feeding a multitude of guests, or what small, but not ‘heaven forbid’ cheap (looking) gift to send them home with at the end of the night.

It’s not about what family members don’t like each other, and how you can work out a seating plan that doesn’t upset anyone.

And it’s most definitely not about your parents, siblings, children, or any other family member who thinks they should have a say in what YOUR day looks like!

YOU get to do YOU! ….Well, to be more accurate, you and your lover get to do ‘US’. That US is standing on a cliff overlooking a beach, or in a forest at midnight, or sitting at your kitchen table in your pyjamas, or in a café in your jeans and favourite band t-shirt!

It’s unpretentious, unconventional, and unequivocally the best-est way to get married without it costing you what could be the down payment on your first house! And I have a feeling that it’s going to stick around as a popular idea for many years to come…..

Celebrant Sally Hughes Photo Julieanne Perara Photography

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Author Bio

Deb Lilley

Deborah Lilley is a Civil Celebrant living and working in South Australia.

From zero guests to hundreds, she is all about making her ceremonies individual and unique!

Legals Only Weddings