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Do you need vows for an elopement?

I’m a marriage celebrant specialising in elopements in Perth, Western Australia. This information applies to elopements in Australia - you’ll need to check with a local authority if you’re eloping somewhere other than Australia.


The short answer is yes, if you want your elopement to be legally-binding, you will need to speak some vows at your elopement. But only a few words are legally required for these vows - and you can add your own personal touches to these words.


Perth elopement vows
Vows bring the feels

Elopement Vows - the legal minimum

If you’re eloping because you want to be legally married at the end of it - which in my experience, most couples are - then yes, you will need to say some vows.


Section 45 of the Marriage Act 1961 spells out the minimum vows couples need to say at a marriage ceremony.


They are pretty simple and to the point.


Both parties to the marriage need to speak the words:


“I ask everyone here to witness that I [FULL NAME] take you [PARTNER’S FULL NAME] to be my lawful wedded spouse/wife/husband/partner in marriage.”

You can personalise your vows by choosing, with your partner, what each of you would like to be called and call each other.


"Partner in marriage" is becoming more and more popular with my couples, although many still love the traditional wording of "husband/wife", "husband/husband", "wife/wife". Interestingly, "spouse" is not getting as much traction as the other options.


Can I change the wording of legal marriage vows?

There are some small changes you can make to this wording,

For example, instead of “I ask everyone here” you can say “I call upon the persons here present”, and you can say ‘thee’ instead of ‘you’, if that floats your boat!


But... Australian Marriage Law is very clear that you each have to say these specific words as vows during your ceremony in order for your marriage to be legal.


Perth Hills elopement celebrant
I print vows for my ceremonies so my couples don't have to memorise anything

Can I add personal vows to my legal vows?

Yes - you can add your own personal vows to the legal vows and your marriage is still legal.


Let’s see what the law says about adding to the minimum legal vows:


“Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.”

- Guidelines to the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants


Do I need to add personal vows for an elopement?

You don't have to, but you can if you want to.


I love to encourage my couples to add to these legal words with some personal vows.


Why? In my experience, this is the easiest and best way to make your ceremony totally unique. Words are free, meaningful and don't hurt the environment - what better way to truly personalise your marriage ceremony than with your own vows?


You’re probably eloping because you want your wedding to be about just the two of you! And adding personal vows is a great way to do this.

Personal vows are powerful - you are speaking aloud your unique intentions for your marriage.


So why not take the time to write some really personal vows that you share with each other during the elopement ceremony?


Your personal vows can talk about

  • Why are you getting married?

  • What are you actually promising?

  • What made you fall in love with your partner?

  • What are you looking forward to in your future together?


If writing your own vows sounds scary, don’t worry, I’ve got you!


The easy way to write your own vows

My Vow Writing Guide is included with both The Elopement Package and The Wedding Package and will have you writing your personal vows in no time - even if you think you’re not a writer!


I’m good with words and I've helped so many couples who were worried about writing their own vows construct beautiful personal vows. You can too!


Want to know more? Check out my FAQs page




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