The marriage law in Australia only needs couples getting married to hear two things, and one of them really riles up a large portion of Australian society.

  1. A monitum
  2. A vow

The vow is the bit where you vocally admit that you’d really like to take your bride or groom as a wife or husband. That’s the popular bit.

The unpopular bit is the monitum.

I was interviewed for an ABC News story recently about how do I get around saying the monitum and are couples requesting it. I basically said this blog post on the phone call but not much of it got published, so I’m blogging it for you today!

What is a monitum?

The word monitum is latin for warning. A monitum is a warning. For example, if you were about to buy mango in a can, I, being the expert on the subject, would issue you a monitum. That monitum would be “don’t buy the canned mango, dude”.

What is the monitum on marriage?

The Australian government decided in 1961 that couples getting married should get an eleventh hour opportunity to know what the heck is going on and why they are standing at the end of an aisle in a suit or dress. So the government decided to issue a monitum to marrying couples.

Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life

So just in case you thought the white dress was for an audition of Cinderella, upon hearing this warning (monitum) you would come to your senses and run away real quickly.

Do we have to say the monitum?


What are the ways to get around saying it?

Not get married.

How do some (weird) celebrants deal with it?

They get apologetic and weird and make a big deal out of it. Which I find odd. It’s not that bad of a warning. Many people, like myself, have an issue with the gender thing but until that changes in parliament it’s no use ruining every wedding ceremony until then.

I’ve had celebrants tell me that in the ceremony they stop and apologise for the monitum to everyone present and make a really big deal out of it.

I don’t think the monitum should ruin a wedding.

How can we deal with it with class?

I actually find the definition of marriage in the monitum rather liberating and empowering. A really simple definition of marriage, a reaffirmation that marriage isn’t about your ability to genetically create offspring, or share a bed or a house, or to fight or to make up. Marriage is about two people tackling life together. It’s two people forming a union. And we just wish everyone had the same chance we have.

That’s how I deal with the monitum. I don’t make a big deal out of it. And I don’t get political and judgey. But if the couple’s views match mine, and they wish everyone had the same opportunity to get married, then I’ll say that.

That’s how you say the monitum with class 🙂

If the couple getting married want to say more, then that’s their decision but I’d always lean away from making the wedding ceremony a political statement.