The strange case of a Perth marriage celebrant who failed to get an “I do” from a terminally ill and unconscious bride is something Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants president Anthony Burke says he has never heard of before.
Diane Caratozzolo-Waddington pleaded guilty in the Rockingham Magistrates’ Court last month to purporting to solemnise a marriage in October 2015.
She had carried out the marriage of a Rockingham couple a man and his wife, who was dying from cancer in 2015.
But the woman was unconscious at the time, never woke up and died soon after the ceremony.
There are various legal requirements to get married, including freely consenting to becoming husband and wife, understanding what that means and using specific words such as “I do”, none of which a person who is unconscious can do and bringing in to doubt the marriage.
The court heard that Caratozzolo-Waddington said during the ceremony “Oh, she can’t answer but I know she wanted to get married when I saw her before,” the Rockingham Weekend Courier newspaper reported.
The groom then signed the woman’s signature himself.
Caratozzolo-Waddington now faces being struck off the commonwealth register of marriage celebrants by the Attorney-General’s Department.
Burke said he had never heard of such a case before and while there were “grey areas . . . we are governed by the law and that’s what we need to uphold”.
“I have made contact with her, I don’t have all the facts, it was more that I wanted to touch base with Diane just to offer support and let her know her association’s there if she needed anything,” he told ABC radio.
Of about 120,000 weddings a year in Australia, more than 60% choose to be married by a civil celebrant, Burke said. AAP