Getting Married in New Zealand

It doesn't matter whether you are from Australia, UK, USA, Germany, China or anywhere in between. The process to get legally married in New Zealand is super easy!

It takes less than a week to get your legal paperwork sorted and after your ceremony you will receive a Government sealed marriage certificate that you can then use to have your marriage legally recognised back home.

Below is a quick summary of the legal process and what you need to do to get married in New Zealand.

Couple at Mt Roy, in Wanaka New Zealand. Captured by Kellie Francis Photography.

Marriage licence application

At least 3 working days before you get married, you need to apply for a marriage licence from the New Zealand Marriages Office. A marriage licence confirms that it’s legal for you to marry. It will cost you $150 to apply for your marriage licence. Your marriage licence is only valid for 90 days once it has been issued.

When it comes to filling in the online application only one of you need to do this, but you will need to make sure you have all of the following information:

  • Full address of the ceremony location.

  • Your celebrant’s name.

  • First, middle, and last names currently for both of you.

  • First, middle, and last names at birth, if different for either of you.

  • Place, and date, of birth for both of you.

  • Occupation for both of you.

  • If previously in a marriage or civil union, the date the dissolution or divorce order was sealed, or date of death.

  • Full names of your parents and your partner’s parents: this includes first, middle, and last names, and all last names at their birth, if different.

  • A credit card or debit card to pay the fee.

When you go online to apply for your licence you will have two options for the type of ceremony you want to choose from; 1) Personalised 2) Registry. 'Personalised' is the type of ceremony you need to select for an adventure elopement. This means you are allowed to get married on any day of the week at any location of your choice. You can also write your own wedding vows and have a personalised wedding ceremony with this option.

Once you have filled in the form, select for your marriage licence to be emailed to you so that you can check all the details are correct. Once it has been issued you will be emailed two copies of particular documents and one marriage licence. Check everything is correct then forward this email (with the attachments) on to your celebrant. If you do spot an error, don't panic you just need to reply to the email from BDM with the requested updates and these will be made on the documents and sent back to you.

Your celebrant will then print out the licence and the two copies of particular documents to bring along on the day (if that is what you have agreed to - make sure you double check).

Adventure Elopement New Zealand, captured by Kellie Francis Photography

Legal requirements during the ceremony

During the ceremony you then need to state that you take your partner to be your husband/wife/partner in marriage. You must use your full legal name, and their full legal name when you make this statement.

You can do this at any time during the ceremony. Below is an example of the legal wording:

"I {insert full legal name} take you {insert full legal name} to be my husband/wife/partner."

Signing the paperwork

After the ceremony you will need to sign the two 'copy of particulars' documents with your celebrant and two witnesses. The witnesses can be anyone who has witnessed the wedding. If you are eloping chances are you won't have two friends attending the wedding to witness and sign this paperwork. Don't worry this is very common for elopements. Your wedding planner or celebrant should be happy to help you source two legal witnesses for your elopement.

Registering your marriage

After the ceremony your celebrant will give you one copy to keep and they will file the other copy with the Births, Deaths and Marriages Office in New Zealand to register your marriage. If you have selected to receive your marriage certificate and pre-paid for this it will automatically be posted out to you at this point. You can then use your marriage certificate to have your marriage recognised in your home country. It is recommended you check with your local authorities if you need any further paperwork. If so, your celebrant should be able to guide you on obtaining additional verification from the New Zealand Government.

NOTE: We strongly recommend that you apply for a marriage certificate at the same time as your marriage licence as you will need this to have your marriage legally recognised in your home country. You will also need this to change your name, bank details, passport etc too.

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