The legal piece may not be the most exciting part of your wedding day, but without a licence and an officiant, it's just an expensive party! Read on to make sure you end up legally married at the end of your day.
Note: This info is all accurate at the time of being written, but it is subject to change. Always check with your municipality to confirm any of the information below.
First of all, lets clear up a common misconception:
A marriage licence is obtained at city hall / a municipal office by the couple. They bring the licence to their ceremony, and the officiant signs it and mails it to the province to register the marriage.
A marriage certificate can be ordered approximately 3 months following your ceremony, and is the document you keep to show that you are married - similar to a birth certificate.
NOW! How do you actually get your marriage licence?
1. Book an appointment at city hall or your municipal office
For those living in Ottawa, you can book your appointment HERE.
You can typically book an appointment within a few weeks, and the appointment will be about 30 minutes long.
This licence is valid for 90 days, so be sure you make your appointment within that timeframe.
2. Bring the required documents to your appointment
Completed application form - download the fillable PDF HERE;
Payment: The cost at each municipality varies, but at Ottawa city hall, the cost is $171.50.
2 pieces of government issued ID, one of which must be photo ID. Examples include:
Birth certificate, including any change of name certificates
Canadian Citizenship Card
Canadian Record of Immigrant Landing
Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
Certificate of Indian Status / Indian Status Card
Permanent Resident Card
United States Green Card
Note: Each municipality may accept different types of IDs so check your municipality's website before you go. The full list of acceptable ID for city hall in Ottawa can be found HERE.
3. What do you do once you have the licence?
As your officiant, I need some info from your licence to fill out my register book. To save time on your wedding day, I will ask you to provide the required information in advance.
One of the most important details: BRING YOUR LICENCE TO YOUR CEREMONY!
At your ceremony, the two of you, your witnesses, and your officiant will sign your licence.
Your officiant will provide you with a "Record of Solemnization" following the ceremony (NOT the same thing as a marriage certificate) and then they will send your documents in to the province to register your marriage.
BONUS: What about our marriage certificate?
6-8 weeks following your ceremony, you can apply for a marriage certificate from the province HERE.
This is the document that proves you are legally married. You might need this for things like name changes, benefits, visa documents, etc.
THAT'S IT! You're officially married!
Have more questions about some of the details? Find answers to all your questions about the legal process in our Frequently Asked Questions.