Wedding Ceremony Witnesses: Why do we need them? And who can they be?

For those who have been to a wedding before we have all seen those two people known as witnesses that go up to the special table and sign pieces of paper with the Bride and Groom. Many people think nothing of it,  when in reality it is a very important and pivotal part of the marriage day process.

Every couple who get married need to choose two legal witnesses to their wedding. The criteria for choosing these individuals are:

Needs be over 18 years of age

Has attend the wedding ceremony in its entirety

Be able and willing to sign off on your official wedding document

Must be able to understand the wedding ceremony


Why is this important you may ask….

The purpose of witnesses is that if anything were to happen these individuals are able to be sworn into court. As they were present at the wedding and were witness to the events that transpired on your wedding day; will be able to testify to the time, place and that the ceremony did indeed take place.

It is paramount for the witnesses to be able to understand and comprehend the ceremony in it’s entirety. This will ensure they are able to testify to not only the time, place and that the marriage took place but they will be able to answer questions regarding particulars of the ceremony should the need arise to have to do so.

It is also important to note that your witnesses as well as yourself need to be of sound body and mind on the day during the ceremony. If a celebrant believes that a witness is effected by alcohol or other substances they may request that you choose another individual to act in their place. If a celebrant believes one of the parties to the marriage is effected, they have legal grounds to refuse to solemnise the marriage, as it is seen that you cannot give ”real consent” to be married if you are under the effect of alcohol or other substances.

Overall witnesses are a legal requirement to protect the rights of everyone involved in the ceremony.


Who can you choose to be your witnesses?

Many bride and grooms believe that their witnesses need to be a member of their bridal party, mainly the maid of honour or the best man, but this is not the case. Many people choose to have these individuals as they are already standing at the alter with the bride and groom and are usually someone the bride and groom trust wholeheartedly. However anyone in attendance the meet the above criteria can act as the witnesses on the day, inclusive of parents and other family members.

It is best to have a chat with the individuals who you would like to sign the certificate. Many celebrants do like to know who you have chosen in advance so their names can be printed on documents and added into the end of the ceremony so the celebrant can call them forward at the appropriate time. Celebrants generally also like to meet with witnesses quickly on the day so they are able to explain the process for the signing portion of the ceremony.

Although the entire process only takes around 5 minutes on the day, it is an amazing honour to be chosen to be a witness at the wedding.

Choose wisely and don’t be swayed to do what someone else believe is right. Choose who you would like to have as witnesses, and have an amazing day. 

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