Renewing Your Marriage Vows – On the Right Side of the Law

Movies, sitcoms and soapies made in the United States could mislead Australian couples into inadvertently breaking the law when they renew their marriage vows.

In various countries in the world, including the United States, it may not be illegal to go through a form of marriage ceremony if you are already married to each other.

In Australia, that could result in six months in jail for the celebrant, considerable explaining, and possibly penalties, for the couple.

Reaffirmation or renewal of vows ceremonies are a popular and romantic way of celebrating significant wedding anniversaries. By all means wear your original wedding dress (lucky you if you can get into it – I wouldn’t have a prayer!), replicate the processional, include your original attendants, exchange new rings or the old ones refurbished.

All that is perfectly legal.

However, to remain on the right side of the law in Australia, the celebrant must make it clear to everyone that the ceremony is a renewal of vows and has no legal standing, and the wording of the vows must not imply that the ceremony is a wedding.

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