Why do you need witnesses at your marriage ceremony?
A legal requirement for a marriage ceremony is that two people over the age of 18 shall be present at the ceremony and be witnesses to the marriage. They are also required, along with the bride, the groom and the celebrant, to sign each of the marriage certificates immediately after the marriage is solemnised.
The purpose of having witnesses is to be able to establish the identity of the bride and groom, and for this reason it is preferred that the witnesses know the bride and/or groom. If necessary, the witnesses are also able to confirm details about how and when the ceremony was performed.
So who can be your witnesses?
If you have a bridal party, the witnesses are often the chief bridesmaid and the best man. However, this is not mandatory, and not all marrying couples have attendants or a bridal party.
The witnesses do not have to be gender specific – you might choose to have the traditional one female and one male, or you may choose to have two females or two males as your witnesses.
You might like to have the mothers or fathers of the bride and groom as witnesses, or other family members or close friends that you would like to include in the ceremony.
Children of the marrying couple are able to be legal witnesses to the marriage, but only if they are 18 years of age or older.
Witnesses would ideally be able to attend your wedding rehearsal, so they know in advance when they will be called upon during the ceremony and what documents they will be signing.
So as part of your wedding planning, you do have another decision to make – who will be your two witnesses?