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Published on June 21st, 2013 | by Rayne


How to get married if you’re a same sex couple in Australia

So my partner and I have been in a relationship for ages now and have decided we want to get married, like a large majority of couples do. We both have our dream ceremonies that involve being in a registrar’s office, dressed all fancy because we’re both too lazy to plan and implement a massive ceremony, we’re both not religious so we want a secular ceremony and I have massive issues about being thrown into the spotlight and having everyone look at my large arse walking down an aisle. I don’t like being the center of attention but I do like my large butt.

So a ceremony in front of a judge and a few witnesses it is then.

There’s just one issue – we’re a same sex couple and same sex marriage isn’t legalised in Australia so it makes it a bit harder. So I thought I would outline the research I have found and inform people of the massive fuck around it is, to get married as a same sex couple living in Australia. Now remember because same sex marriage isn’t legal in Australia so any marriage certificate we get outside of the country means that it won’t be recognised in the country anyway. Not only has the government banned same sex marriage but they have implemented policies that specifically do not recognise same sex marriages from other countries in Australia so largely the ceremony and paperwork is symbolic for us – the thought that somewhere on the planet our relationship is recognised as worthy of entering a legal marriage is a bittersweet feeling even if we do have to come home to be second class citizens.

In today’s age there are a few places for us to choose overseas to get married including:
Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Mexico City (part of Mexico), Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and as of August 2103, New Zealand will have implemented their policies to start conducting same sex marriages. We’ve choosen New York and New Zealand because we have friends in America and New Zealand is nice and close to us.


At first we thought about getting married in New York. I’ve always wanted to go to New York and we could do with a holiday anyway. However that means, getting time off from work, having the money for accommodation, flights, food, not to mention the money for the marriage ceremony and paperwork itself. I hopped on the New York Cities City Clerks website and looked up the information I needed to actually get a marriage license.

“It’s important to keep in mind that getting married in New York City is a multi-step process. Couples must complete an application and receive a Marriage License at the City Clerk’s office before they can legally wed.”


  • You can complete the application when you come to the City Clerk’s office. But unlike the online process, you cannot begin to fill out a paper application in advance of your visit to the City Clerk’s office. The law requires it to be filled out in person at the City Clerk’s office.
  • You and your prospective spouse must appear together in person to apply for a Marriage License.  Proxy marriage is not permitted in New York, so no other party may apply for you or your prospective spouse.
  • Once you arrive at the City Clerk’s office you will proceed to the information desk, where someone will guide you toward the next steps.  Your Marriage License will be processed while you wait. If you like, the City Clerk’s office can also perform a civil marriage ceremony for you.
  • The law requires a 24-hour waiting period before your marriage ceremony can be performed, unless you obtain a Judicial Waiver. If you obtain a Judicial Waiver, then the City Clerk’s office can perform a civil marriage ceremony the same day.
  • The City Clerk’s fee for a Marriage License is $35. The fee for a marriage ceremony at the City Clerk’s office is $25. Fees are payable with money order or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express). Cash and personal checks are not accepted.

So we can fill the application form on-line or fill it out at the office and wait for 24 hours and have a secular ceremony at the clerk’s office. Pretty cool. It seems useless to fly all the way over there only to stay two days to get married so we’ll make a holiday for 2 weeks. We’ll both wait until we can get leave for the holiday which isn’t going to be for another year since M just started a new job and she can’t take holidays until she’s worked at her company for a year. Standard procedure. At least it’ll give us time to save up.

Flights to New York from Brisbane: Economy class. 1 adult return: $2,110 with 2 stop overs.
Total for 2 people: $4,220 approx. Total fly time one way: 23h 49m.

Holy shit.

What about accommodation for the 2 weeks? The cheapest mid-range hotel I could find that didn’t mean we would have to travel ages to get to a clerk’s office starts at: $2,732.97 for 2 weeks.


Now we need to factor in food for the 2 weeks (is it going to be cheaper to buy food or do we want to eat out a couple of nights?), public transportation costs, can we factor in seeing a few sights while we’re there?

Already with the accommodation and airfare we’re looking at over $6,900. Unless we want to take a 23hr + flight over to New York and 23hr + back for the a 4 day weekend from Thursday to Monday and just get married. It’ll bring the accommodation cost down to: $1,357.40.

Okay so scrap New York, we just simply don’t have the money or time.

It’d be so much easier if we could go 30 minutes down the road to the local registrar office.


We could wait until after August and take a long weekend to New Zealand. It’s only about a 2/3hr trip to Auckland and we can leave early Friday and come back on Monday, approx. price return for one person $500/$600. We have to get married by a marriage celebrant in New Zealand but fortunately the marriage celebrant can also be the Registrar of Marriages at the Registry Office.

Looking at the New Zealand registrar’s office website, it says:

If you live in New Zealand or will be in New Zealand at least three days before you intend to be married (either the bride or groom, or both) complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (BDM 60) form. If you wish for your marriage to be conducted by a Registrar of Marriages at the Registry Office, you must pay a fee of NZ$173.70 when you send in or hand over the completed Notice of Intended Marriage form. This includes the fee for the marriage license and the ceremony.

Flights return for 2 people: Approx. $1,200AUD.
Marriage license: $173.70NZ
Accommodation: 2 adults in an fully furnished apartment in the middle of Auckland for 3 nights: $785.

New Zealand is looking pretty good so far.

Food for the 4 days, 3 nights will be budgeted around: $500 (just in case)
Transportation is of little issue since everything is so close but: $200 (just in case)
Shopping money for presents and things $200
New Zealand trip to get married: $3058.70.

But while it sounds great, we’re missing out one important detail, how can our parents afford to fly over there? My parents can’t fly due to health issues and M’s mum won’t have the money or ability to get time off and what about our friends?

If same sex marriage was legalised in Australia, the total traveling time our local registrars office: 30 minutes, my parents and my partner and I live the same distance away from office, as do my friends and we either have cars or can take a bus or taxi.

Parking at the registrar’s office: $15
Cost of a marriage license and ceremony that can be performed at the office: $360 on a weekend.
Flights for my partner’s mum and friends who live in Sydney: $250 return per person.
Accommodation for the weekend: Our house.
Food for the weekend for my partner’s mum and her friends while at the house: Whatever they want to spend.

So as you can see, it’s much easier to get married in our own country but we can’t do that and if same sex marriage were to ever get legalised in Australia, we would need to spend money to divorce in whatever country we had gotten married in and then get married again in Australia.

To all those people who say: Why don’t you just get married in a country that has same sex marriage?

Because we shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t have to fork out thousands of dollars and make our families miss out on witnessing us get married because our own country denies us. We shouldn’t have to settle for a civil union (which isn’t offered in our state anyway) simply because some people think marriage should only be available to a certain percentage of the population. Not only is Australia denying us marriage but you deny our families the special occasion. You deny the tourism industry, the wedding industry, money for those businesses who can cater to those who want the whole big expensive ceremony. Caterers, photographers, wait staff, ushers, venue hire, airlines, hotels – all business that stand to make money from legalised same sex marriage.

When I was 16, I came out as gay to my parents and my mum cried. She was hoping that I would get married and we’d have a great celebrations. “I’m not crying that you’re gay, I’m just sad you won’t get married because of it”.

“No mum” I replied. “It’s not that I won’t get married because I’m gay, it’s that I can’t get married because I’m gay. The fault doesn’t lay with me but with the people who deny me based on what I am”.

Australia has come a long way in a short amount of time. We now have anti-discrimination laws that protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexuality (except when it comes to religious organisations, those guys get away with everything) in every state but homosexuality was only decriminalised in the last state in Australia in 1997.

It took until 1997 for the whole of the nation to decriminalise homosexuality; it took until 1997 where you could no longer be arrested for being gay.

Under the Australian Marriage Act I can legal marry my blood related uncle or first cousin as long as that cousin is of the opposite sex and over 16. Why can I go down to my local registrar office and marry my uncle for $360 but I have to fork out $3,500+ dollars and leave the country to marry the woman I love?


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Goth. Metal music. Tea. Books. Woman-shaped nerd.

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