How to get legally married in New Zealand

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In New Zealand you can get married anywhere, at any time, in front of anyone, and in any way you wish. Whether you stand in front of two people or two hundred to make your personal and meaningful promises, your marriage is also a legal commitment, one that is recognised around the world . . . for all time (no pressure when you make your vows!)

New Zealand is also probably the easiest country in the world to get properly and legally married. Births Deaths and Marriages (Department Internal Affairs) is responsible for the issuing of marriage licences. Their website provides all the information you need in a great step-by-step guide.
how to get legally married in new zealand

In summary though this is how it goes . . .

Step 1 – Decision Time

  1. Decide who you are marrying. This is pretty obvious and there are only few limitations on who you can marry, with these limitations based purely on family relationships and connections.
  2. Decide where you are having your marriage ceremony. You do need to know the exact place you will exchange your marriage vows. If you are getting married by a beach, river or similar natural place, you must provide the nearest street names, map co-ordinates or a very clear description. And if you are having an outside wedding it would more than advisable to provide an address for an alternative venue in case the weather is not going to co-operate on the day. There is a space on the application form to list two options for your ceremony venue. Note: If you change your mind about both these venues you must go in to the office to notify them, and they will change the licence for you (no extra charge).
  3. Decide who will officiate your ceremony. You have three options for this; you can get married by a Registrar in a Registry Office, by an Organisational Celebrant (for example a minister in a church) or, a Registered Marriage Celebrant at a location of your choice. Always confirm with the celebrant you are talking to that they are actually currently registered with Births Deaths and Marriages.
    I am a registered independent (no affiliation to a church or organisation) celebrant.

Step 2 – Action time, applying for a Marriage Licence

  1. The application form is a Notice of Intended Marriage (BDM60) and can be downloaded from the website here ( Or I can give you a hard copy.
  2. You fill in all the details except the statutory declaration at the bottom of the form. You do need to make sure you have filled in your own and your parents’ full names.
  3. You then simply take the filled in form to your local Registrar of Marriages and sign the statutory declaration that the particulars are true. You do need to pay $150.00 when you lodge the application. Only one of you needs go into the office to do this.
    If you are divorced you will need to show a copy of your Dissolution of Marriage (or Civil Union). If you are widowed you do not need to show a copy of the Death Certificate, but you do need to write in the date of death.

Note:- If you are holding your marriage ceremony in a public place your licence does not guarantee you have this space booked, therefore if you are going to have your ceremony in a public place, such as at the beach or in a park or reserve, it is advisable to get “permission” from the local Council.
In Tauranga there is no fee for this, but the letter they email you gives your wedding party the first right to be in the designated place at the designated time.
To request this letter contact the Tauranga District Council:- +64 7 577 7000

Step 3 – Collect Your Marriage Licence

It takes three working days to process an application, but in the busy season it can take longer so don’t leave it to close to your wedding date to apply. A Marriage Licence is valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

When you receive your Marriage Licence and your Particulars of Marriage (two copies), you will need to give all these to your celebrant when convenient. The licence allows your celebrant to marry you, and the Particulars of Marriage are what you sign on the day.

Step 4 – Get Married!

  1. During the ceremony to make the marriage legal you must say “I [name], take you [partner’s name], to be my [wife/husband]” – or something similar, and your full names must be used at least once. That’s the legal wording requirement met, and these words must be clearly said in front of a minimum of two witnesses. The witnesses can be any relation to you and can be any age, but they must understand what is happening.
  2. Both of you, two witnesses and your celebrant sign both copies of the Particulars of Marriage. Regardless of whether either of you is going to change your name on marriage you sign the forms in the name on your marriage documents.

The BDM45A is your copy, and is a legal document that proves you are married – and can legally use your spouse’s name (or a combination of your names). Your celebrant will leave this with either you or someone you have designated to look after it for you.
The BDM45 is posted to the BDM office by your celebrant so that your marriage is legally registered in New Zealand.

Step 5 – Get official evidence of your marriage.

The forms you sign on the day are not a certificate. If you are going to be living overseas, or you are changing your name and have a security checked job and/or need to change the name on your driver’s licence you will need to get a Certificate of Marriage (BDM93M). This is very easy to apply for and only costs $33.00. On the back of the Registrar’s Copy of Particulars of Marriage, you can fill in your postal and payment details to have a Marriage Certificate sent to you as soon as your marriage is registered. Your celebrant will guide you through this process, and getting a certificate is also a great way of confirming that your marriage has been registered.

This might see a bit long but it is all pretty easy in reality. However if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with me.