Please note, this page is under construction and will be subject to frequent review. More importantly, it should not be treated as an official source of information. The best source of information related to NZ's response to COVID-19 is the COVID-19 website, covid19.govt.nz
Am I available for marriage ceremonies or civil union ceremonies while NZ is responding to COVID-19?
I am being conservative in my approach to ceremonies at this time. I am in close contact with a number of people who work in the healthcare system and normally get a lot of colds over winter and through the rest of the year. As current guidelines suggest that anyone with any cold like symptoms should stay away from others, I may not be a particularly wise/reliable choice.
If I do conduct a ceremony, I will observe physical distancing requirements and will provide a standard ceremony at a location with 10 or fewer people present (including myself and any other vendors). While the ceremony will be of a standard format, you are welcome to exchange vows you have written for each other. I will only perform ceremonies in my local area (Birkdale/Beach Haven/Birkenhead). I will need the names and contact details of anyone present for contact tracing purposes.
The charge for ceremonies conducted at this time will be $200, with discounts available for frontline essential workers. Note that this does not include the cost of the marriage licence (couples organise the licence themselves through the DIA website) and is more expensive than a registry office or VCANZ ceremony.
If I am unavailable or the terms above are not suitable, you can find celebrants near you using the map on the DIA website:
Can a marriage/civil union ceremony take place at Level 4?
Only if the celebrant, the parties to marriage/civil union, and both witnesses are in the same bubble. Under NZ law, all of these people must be in the same place for a legal ceremony to occur. NZ law does not currently allow for any of these people to attend remotely (e.g. via a video calling platform such as Zoom).
This, of course, does not prevent you from saying nice things to eachother/exchanging promises to celebrate your relationship.
Can a marriage/civil union ceremony take place at Level 3?
Legal ceremonies with up to 10 people present can take place during level 3. Note that vendors (e.g. celebrant, photographer etc). need to be included in the head count. Note also that other restrictions related to Level 3 need to be followed, these include not having a reception and restrictions on travel. Information on weddings at Level 3 (and other restrictions) is available at the official government website.
Can a marriage/civil union ceremony take place at Level 2?
According to the announcement on May 11th 2020, legal ceremonies with up to 10 people present can take place during level 2. The limit on the number of people who can be present may change over time. Note that vendors (e.g. celebrant, photographer etc). need to be included in the head count. Other restrictions related to Level 2 need to be followed, these may include restrictions on event duration. Information on weddings at Level 2 (and other restrictions) is available at the official government website.
Can a marriage/civil union ceremony take place at Level 1?
Yes, current advice (as at June 25th) is that you can get together with as many people as you want. Information on weddings at Level 1 (and other restrictions) is available at the official government website.
Can I get a refund of fees paid to you?
This will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Relevant information will include the date the booking was made.
Can I get a refund on the marriage licence issued by the Department of Internal Affairs/Births, Deaths, and Marriages?
Here is information provided to celebrants about refunds for marriage licences from DIA. This information was provided to celebrants on March 20th 2020, via e-mail. Note that when all celebrants went through the annual renewal process in October 2020, the content of the test that celebrants are required to sit implied that refunds may not be offered anymore.
Marriage licence refunds
Marriage licences are valid until the date of expiry, that being 3 months from the date of issue. If couples want to postpone their wedding as a result of the pandemic, there are options:
Delay having the marriage, but not later than when the marriage licence expires. This in the hope that the situation has improved within 3 months.
If the couple plan to get married after their licence expires, they can apply for a refund now. If approved, the refund will include the licence fee and the marriage certificate, if ordered. When the couple are ready to get married they can apply for a new licence at https://marriages.services.govt.nz.
Couples can request a refund by emailing email@example.com with the subject heading "Request for marriage licence refund".
In the body of the email include:
Reason for refund e.g. unable to enter the country.
Both partners’ full names and contact details (e.g., email, phone number etc.)
Refunds currently take about 4 weeks to process.
Again, please note that this may no longer be their policy.