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Wedding ring

We're engaged, now what?

Now that you have decided to get married, the planning begins for that happy day when you become partners for life.  Here is what you should know about getting the license and preparing the ceremony.

Where do I get the License?

In Ontario, the only place that issues marriage licenses is Service Ontario. 

You can get the license anywhere in Ontario - for example, you can get the license in your home town even if you are getting married in another part of Ontario. To see if your city or town issues them, simply look up Service Ontario locations on your browser. 

You can even apply for it online and fill in the form, but you must take it in to the office to complete. There is a swearing in to affirm that everything you have written on the form is true.

The process takes about 20 minutes and you both don't have to go. One can go with the other's ID.

Prices for the license range from $100 to $150 depending on the municipality.  It is good for 90 days.

You can get married the same same you obtain the license, there is no delay in using it.

What ID do I need to bring?

You'll need two pieces of government-issued identification.

  • government-issued birth certificate, including any change of name certificates

  • valid passport

  • record of immigrant landing

  • Canadian Citizenship Card

  • valid driver’s licence

  • valid Ontario Photo Card

What if I have been divorced?

If you have been divorced in Canada, just bring along your final papers for clearance.

BUT if you have been divorced OUTSIDE of Canada, this complicates things somewhat.  You will have to have a Canadian lawyer verify your divorce papers, write an opinion letter saying they are in good order and send it to the Registrar General's Office in Thunder Bay.  Once they have reviewed the letter, they will release a license for you.  This can take several weeks and will have an added cost.

How do I find an Officiant?

Finding an officiant that will work with your preferences and create a ceremony that upholds the rules of the Marriage Act yet provides scope for your personal touches is important.  Everyone listed on our site will help you create a meaningful and memorable ceremony.  

To ensure that the person who is officiating is actually  licensed by the province, you can check them out at this link.  There are many fraudulent  people out there, unfortunately.  This list gives you peace of mind that your ceremony will be valid.

Can my Special Person/Friend Officiate?

In Ontario, no.  The only person who can officiate your wedding is a recognized Religious Official, or municipal clerk or Justice of the Peace.  

Your wedding is a legal action, supported by a license, and must follow the rules of the Marriage Act.  In every ceremony, the officiant must ask if you come freely and without impediment in the words of the Declaration or Statement of Intent.  ONLY the officiant can hear your vows.  This is your contract, your binding agreement.  And ONLY the officiant can pronounce you.  They have been given the authority by the government to do so.

So, no, a friend cannot perform the ceremony.  The Marriage Act states that if a non-recognized person does so they risk up tp two years in jail, the marriage is void and all will be changed with fraud. Your friend and others can be involved in many ways: sharing a reading, offering music, and reading the non-legal parts.  

If a couple has their heart set on the friend being "the officiant," then a short legal ceremony with the officiant beforehand will take care of the license requirements.  Once the paperwork is signed, the couple is married.  There is no further legal obligation. 

Note: If your officiant agrees to let your friend do the entire wedding and they will just sign the papers afterwards, this is illegal.  You all risk being charged with fraud.  This is a very serious offence.

What makes the ceremony legal then?

We're glad you asked!

  • You need an officially recognized officiant whom you'll find on the provincial register, linked above.

  • You need a valid license issued by the Registrar General's office obtained at a Service Ontario location.

  • You need two witnesses.  Interestingly enough, the Marriage Act doesn't specify an age requirement.  If the parents and officiant agree that a child understands what is happening and can write their name, the child can be a witness.

  • The ceremony must include  
    a  Declaration, or Statement of Intent (You come freely to be married)

      b  Vows (Your contract with one another)

      c  The Pronouncement (You have satisfied the requirements and are legally united in marriage.)

Immediately following the ceremony, the paperwork (license and marriage register) is signed by the couple, the officiant, and the witnesses.  The couple is given the Record of Solemnization ( the tear away section on the second page of the license) which has the marriage license number, the names of the couple, date and place of the wedding, and witnesses and officiant's signatures.  There is no legal value to this form.  It is informational.



More Information

Here is the link to the provincial website which explains everything thoroughly.  It also gives you information on how to obtain your wedding certificate.

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