A groom recently asked me, jokingly, but seriously, but laughing, but inquisitive: “Does a marriage have to be consummated to be legal?” Aka do a bride and groom have to sleep with each other to make the marriage legal.
Short answer: no.
Long answer: in Australia, not at all.
Until 1975 not sleeping with your husband or wife was grounds for decree of nullity, but since then the grounds for an annulment in Australia are fairly minimal.
What are the grounds for a marriage being decreed null? Allow me to copy and paste from our friends at the Family Law courts: The Court may declare a marriage invalid on the following grounds:
- At the time the parties were married, one of them was married to someone else.
- The parties are in a prohibited relationship.
- The parties did not comply with the laws in relation to the marriage in the place they were married.
- Either party was not of a legal age to marry.
- Either of the parties did not give their real consent to the marriage because:
- consent was obtained by duress or fraud,
- one party was mistaken as to the identity of who they were marrying or the nature of the ceremony,
- one party was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and the effect of the marriage ceremony.
You might notice that hanky panky isn’t listed.
In-fact, this week I’ve done an informal survey of about 15 of husbands and zero had a female encounter of the biblical sense on their wedding night. After the wedding night it’s a different story, but each one was exhausted by the time they got back to the hotel room.