FAQ’s and My Two Cents: Getting and Signing Your Marriage Licence

Getting married isn’t like grabbing a coffee… most people don’t do it on a daily basis, in fact not usually more than once or twice, so yeah there will be FAQs.

Today I’m going to answer some FAQs on getting and signing your marriage licence…  then I’m going to share my take on signing your marriage licence. Here goes!

Kimberley and Ricky, wicked excited that this is the day they get married!  Photo courtesy Tim Hawkins


How do we get our marriage licence?

It’s all here https://www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/getting-married/get-a-marriage-licence/#who-can-get-it


Is the cost of our marriage licence included in your fee?

No it’s not.  When you apply for it you pay Births Deaths Marriages directly.


How old does someone have to be to sign our marriage licence?

The law is very grey area here.  There’s no nice easy, signatories must be 18 etc.  It is basically stated that the people signing your marriage licence must be old enough to understand what is going on and if required, testify in a court of law.  So personally I put that at about 12 years old.


Can family sign our marriage licence?

Yes there is no law saying family can’t act as witnesses on a marriage licence.  So your kids, your Mum, your Grandad, it’s all good.

And if it’s siblings or people you’ve known forever you’re more likely to convince them to take awesome photos like this (nobody told me we were acting like muppets in this one) Photo Credit:  Scott’s Dad

How many witnesses do we need?



Can you (me) be one of our witnesses?

No.  I have another bit to sign further down the page, I can’t also be a witness.

Here I am doing my signing bit at Stacey and Mark’s wedding.  Photo Credit:  Kate Groundwater

Do we have to know our witnesses?

No.  So long as they have witnessed your ceremony, specifically the legal bit where you say I (full name) take you (full name) to be my husband/ wife/ spouse, we can recruit people as they walk past on the street.


Do our witnesses have to have NZ addresses?

No, so long as they have an address somewhere in the world it’s all good.

Here’s Kimberley’s host parents, from her time as an AFS Student as a teenager.  Still very much part of her life and still living in Europe.  Photo Credit:  Tim Hawkins

Okay, now me.  There’s a lot of good reasons to use a bridesmaid and a groomsman to sign your marriage licence – it’s easy, they’re already standing up there with you, they’re guaranteed to look good in the signing of the marriage licence photos because you’ve told them what to wear, and you obviously like them since you’ve asked them to be your bridesmaid/ groomsman.

N&R Wedding_7733-2shp
Nic’s bridesmaid signing during Nic and Rich’s ceremony.  Photo Credit:  Melt Photography

But here’s some arguments in defence of using people other than members of your wedding party.


Do you have living grandparents in long, lasting, loving marriages?  Get them to sign your marriage licence. Whether you believe that a little bit of their love will rub off on your marriage if they do, or not.  It’s making a statement that this is what you want from your marriage.

Troy’s Grandad, who along with his Nana, signed Troy and Jess’s Marriage Licence.  Two people who have spent a life in a loving happy marriage.  Photo credit:  http://www.thewoodsphotography.co.nz/


Get your Mums or Dads or your siblings to sign your marriage licence.  Especially if they don’t have other ‘jobs’. It’s a really meaningful way to include family on your wedding day.

Mark’s Mum signing Stacey and Mark’s Marriage Licence.  Photo Credit Kate Groundwater
Stacey’s Mum signing Stacey and Mark’s Marriage Licence.  Photo Credit:  Kate Groundwater
Here’s Johanna’s brother and Wepiha’s sister signing their Marriage Licence on top of Cecil Peak in Queenstown Photo Credit:  Nat at Alpine Images

Get your kids to sign your marriage licence.  So long as they’re older than 12 and understand what’s going on (see above) they can.  Whether you’re a blended family or decided to do kids first, wedding later, it’s a powerful way of including your kids.  Even if you opt not to use your kids as the official witnesses, I’m happy to make you up a non official family certificate for you all to sign with the official paperwork – also helpful if you have 3 or more kids and someone’s soul will be crushed if they don’t get picked to sign.


Can’t decide, everyone means so much to you?

Put their names in a hat and we’ll draw out who is going to be your witness as part of the ceremony (and no judgement from me if you opt to leave out your cousin’s date who you’ve never met before, they’ll never know if you don’t tell them)


And the good news is I’m full of info like this.  You can go traditional but you can also buck tradition completely.  I’m still waiting on a fire poi display though #celebrantgoals!!

What would you like me to do a FAQ and alternative options post on next?  Leave me a comment!


Wherever and whenever you’re planning to get married – massive congratulations!  

If you’re looking for a fun young celebrant I’d love to hear from you. I’m based in Alexandra, but happy to travel around Central and South Otago and beyond.  I’m up for a challenge, so hit me with your ideas and we’ll go from there.


Hannah xx

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