Wedding Shortening: Legal Requirements and Process

Last time I wrote about the legal condition for getting married – i.e. giving one month’s notice to the celebrant ( as representative of the Attorney General).

Although by law you must give one month’s notice, it is possible to hold a wedding in a shorter time: this is called a “ Shortening”. A Shortening is not to be taken for granted, but can be applied for from a “ Prescribed Authority” or magistrate at a local courthouse. Circumstances which may call for a Shortening are these:

  • employment or travel commitments
  • wedding or celebration arrangements
  • religious considerations
  • medical reasons
  • legal proceedings
  • error in giving the Notice
the arnolfini marriage jan van eyck1

The only reason I have ever been asked to conduct a wedding with a Shortening has been compassionate – the doubt that a party to the marriage or a family member may live long enough for the prescribed period of Notice.

If you need to be married in a short time frame you should prepare your case and take a completed Notice of Intended Marriage (the only time this form can leave the celebrant’s hands) from your celebrant so permission can be recorded on it. In addition I will give you a letter on my letterhead saying I have received your Notice and that I am willing and able to conduct your wedding pending the granting of your Shortening.  Then you should return to the celebrant with the Notice and hopefully your wedding can go ahead as you wish.

Good luck with this!

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