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NOTE: There is erroneous information being published on the Internet that the Ontario Government is shredding marriage licences that are mailed to the Registrar General in prepaid envelopes. This is completely false.

The Ontario Government has phased out the POSTAGE PAID  envelopes that were used for many years, and they are no longer accepted. There is no reason to be concerned. Mailing the marriage licence to the Registrar General after the actual wedding continues to be the legal responsibility of your wedding officiant, and they will continue taking care of this for you.

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How to obtain a marriage license in Ontario:

To be married in Ontario, you must obtain a marriage license. You can get one from the municipal clerk office of your city, town, village or township. You do not have to be Canadian citizen or landed immigrants to obtain a marriage licence; even visitors to Canada can get one (I know because I have married visitors to Canada!). Getting a licence usually takes about 10 minutes (depending on the lineup), if there are no complications.

Once you have filled out the application, you must apply for the marriage license in person. Make sure you or your partner (both if either of you has been married before) bring identification, such as a birth certificate (along with any change of name certificates), current passport (regardless of country), Record of Immigrant Landing or Canadian citizenship card, along with photo identification. If there was a previous marriage, bring originals or court-certified copies of your divorce documents.

There is a fee for obtaining a marriage license. Contact your municipal office for the current fee. The marriage license is valid anywhere in Ontario for 90 days from the date of purchase.

Useful link:
Government of Ontario - Getting Married in Ontario

Legal Concerns During Your Wedding

A valid Marriage License is needed at the time of the wedding.

You will require 2 witnesses of legal age (at least 18). These witnesses are simply witnessing your willing declaration to be married - they do not have to know you. Michael can provide 2 witnesses if required.

And of course, you'll need a bride and a groom !

Two declarations required under the Marriage Act must be included in the ceremony, saying (1) that you know of no lawful impediment why you cannot be joined in marriage, and (2) that you take this person to be your lawful wedded spouse/partner.

Vows and other additions to the ceremony are optional.

After the wedding ceremony, the Marriage License and the Marriage Register (provided by Michael) must be signed by the bride, the groom, and the 2 witnesses, plus Michael.

How to register a marriage in Ontario:

After the marriage, the married couple will receive a Record of Solemnization of Marriage; we used to call this a Marriage Certificate but these days it is simply a souvenir.

This document includes the couple’s names, the date of the marriage, the names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a license or the publication of banns. This is NOT a marriage certificate or a legal record.

Michael is required to forward the completed and signed marriage license to the Office of the Registrar General in Thunder Bay for registration. It then takes Thunder Bay about 12 weeks to register the marriage.

Note: The marriage must be registered before you may apply for a marriage certificate. You need the marriage certificate if you want to change your name on your driver's license, health card, or passport.

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Q: How do we obtain a marriage license in Ontario?

A: To be married in Ontario, you must obtain a marriage license. You can get the application from the municipal clerk office of your city, town, village or township OR download it from Government of Ontario - Getting Married in Ontario.

Once you have filled out the application, apply for the marriage license in person. Make sure you and your partner bring identification, such as a birth certificate (along with any change of name certificates), current passport, Record of Immigrant Landing or Canadian citizenship card, along with photo identification.

There is a fee for purchasing a marriage license. Contact your municipal office for the current fee. The marriage license is valid anywhere in Ontario for 90 days from the date of purchase.

Q: Will this Marriage be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church?

Roman Catholics are required to observe a certain form of marriage ritual in order that their marriage be valid in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. Canon law—the law of the Church—requires that Catholics enter into marriage by free mutual consent that is witnessed (performed) in a Roman Catholic church by an authorized bishop, priest, or deacon and at least two other witnesses. Marriages in which one or both parties are Catholic and which are not witnessed (performed) by an authorized bishop, priest, or deacon, or which do not receive proper permission to take place in another forum, are considered invalid in the eyes of the RC Church. Roman Catholic clergy are not permitted to participate in weddings anywhere other than n RC church.

The RC Church very much wants to assist these couples who later want to enter into valid Catholic marriage, and it offers them what is called a convalidation ceremony - sometimes referred to as the blessing of a marriage. For more information, see our article on Convalidation.

Q: How do you register a marriage in Ontario?

A: After the marriage, the married couple will receive a Record of Solemnization of Marriage. This document includes the couple’s names, the date of the marriage, the names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a license or the publication of banns. This is not a marriage certificate or a legal record. Michael will send the completed and signed marriage license to the Office of the Registrar General for registration.

Note: The marriage must be registered in Thunder Bay before you can apply for a marriage certificate.

Q: After the marriage is registered, how do I get an "official" marriage certificate?

A: You will NOT 'automatically' be sent a marriage certificate. Once 12 weeks have elapsed after the wedding, you can apply for the marriage certificate online from the Government of Ontario.

Q: What is legally "married?"

A: If you are getting married in Ontario, you may have a religious marriage or a civil marriage in order to be legally married.

Religious marriage or Non-denominational marriage:

A religious marriage or non-denominational marriage is performed by a member of a recognized religious organization recognized and authorized by the Government of Ontario to perform marriages in Ontario under the Marriage Act. The marriage can be solemnized under the authority of a marriage license or the publication of banns, depending on the denomination. Michael is recognized and authorized by the Government of Ontario to perform weddings.

Civil marriage:
A judge, justice of the peace or municipal clerk, or other person authorized by the Government of Ontario may perform a marriage under the authority of a marriage license.

Q: Do we have to get married in a church?

A: No, once you have your wedding license, you can get married just about anywhere in the province of Ontario. That includes all public and private buildings, parks and gardens, not just churches. Bodies of water are also acceptable (lakes, rivers, etc.). You might need a permit for certain locations.

If you would like to get married in a church, and don't happen to have one handy, ask Michael.

Q: Do you require premarital counseling?

A: No, premarital counseling is not required. (Although I think it is a good idea.)

Q: Can we write our own vows?

A: Yes, it is your wedding, and should be exactly what you want. Of course, if you need guidance, with any aspect of your wedding ceremony, I will be glad to help with suggestions.

Q: What do you wear for the ceremony?

A: I usually 'dress up' for weddings and wear my gown; on occasion, I have worn a dark suit. On rare occasions (and very hot), I have worn shorts!

Q: Will you come to my home to meet with me and/or to perform the wedding?

A: Yes.

Q: What is included in your service?

A: My wedding fee of $ 350 includes the pre-wedding interviews, and the wedding ceremony. A pre-wedding rehearsal is an additional $ 150.

Q: Are there any extra charges?

A: If the rehearsal and/or wedding location is more than an hour's round trip drive from Hamilton, I ask for $ 50 an hour for time and expenses for driving to the rehearsal and/or wedding.

Q: Do you ask for a deposit?

A: Yes, I ask for a $ 100 deposit at the time of booking and the balance to paid at least a week before the wedding, usually when the marriage licence is turned over to me for safekeeping.

Q: Do you supply a sound system?

A: No, music or musical performance is your choice. There is no requirement. You may choose to bring a CD player or check to see if there is a sound system available at the location, if you like. You may also decide to have a soloist or a musician.

Q: Do you participate in the rehearsal?

A: That is up to you. While I don't require a rehearsal, there will be a $ 150 rehearsal fee if I am involved, plus travel costs if applicable.

Q: Do you need to be included in the reception?

A: No I don’t. During the busier seasons, time may not allow me to participate.

Q: We’re having a big fancy wedding later. Can you perform a private ceremony for us now that will meet the legal requirements?

A: Of course! This happens frequently when couples want a "beach" wedding in the Caribbean but are not certain such a wedding would be legal.

Q: We already had a traditional ceremony but it didn’t meet legal requirements. Can you perform a small, private ceremony for us now - one that is legal?

A: Yes, a short ceremony can be performed privately, at any location. If you do not have 2 witnesses, we can also provide those.

Q: Do you accept credit card payments?

A: No. But I do accept cash or cheque or bank etransfer.

Q: Do you need to see our marriage license?

A: I prefer to have the marriage license well before the ceremony; I need about 30 minutes to copy the information into the Marriage Register and prepare the Marriage Licence for the ceremony, and it is better that I do this in advance rather than make your guests wait while I fill out the forms! You are not married until the forms are filled out completely.

Also, I have had experiences where the couple have forgotten to bring the license, or it got lost. To perform a legal marriage, it must be there on the day of the wedding. We can do a lot of things on your wedding day without a marriage license; getting married just isn't one of them.

Q: What does "Officiant" mean?

A: Someone like Michael who is legally authorized to preside over/perform a couple's wedding ceremony.

Q: How old must you be to marry in Ontario?

A: You must be at least 18 years old to be married in Ontario by license or under the authority of the publication of banns without authorization or parental consent. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may marry if you have the consent in writing of both parents. Other restrictions may apply.

Q: What should we consider for a customized wedding ceremony?

A: You may consider anything you'd like. My services vary from non-denominational (which will include at least one religious reference) to a full religious ceremony. Romantic readings and favourite songs are always wonderful to add to the ceremony. Just remember, it’s your special day and the ceremony should consist of segments that are meaningful to you.