Check List

Suggestions when “shopping” for a Wedding Officiant

shopping for a wedding officiant

Consider this

Who does most of the talking at your ceremony? Your wedding officiant! So you want to ensure a comfortable ‘fit’ with the person officiating your wedding.

We suggest that you interview the person who is going to preside over your ceremony.

Warmth, humour and a personal easy-going approach can bring a smile to any nervous bride’s (and groom’s face)!

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Many wedding officiants offer “set piece” wedding ceremonies. That means they read the same words for every couple. To make sure that your ceremony is exactly what you expect it to be, please ask the following questions:

Check List

  • Ask if your officiant is licenced to solemnize wedding ceremonies in the Province of Ontario? (if not, your wedding will not recognized as legal by the government.)Hint: every licenced officiant has a registration number assigned by the government.
  • We suggest that you be very wary of any wedding officiant (or company) that shies away from an initial “no fee no obligation” meeting with any potential officiant. (It is good idea to “job interview” any person whom you are considering to direct your wedding ceremony.)
  • Is your officiant “controlling”? For example, some officiants dictate a no photography policy for your wedding ceremony even if it takes place outside of a religious institution? Ask your officiant about his/her photography policy before booking and always remember, it is YOUR ceremony, not your officiant’s)! After all, who is paying the photographer?)
  • Is your wedding officiant/company willing to provide a “contract” if you wish, or at least a receipt for your deposit clearly specifying the contracted date and time of your ceremony?
  • What kind of ceremony choices does your wedding officiant offer? One only? Or just a choice between a religious one or a non-religious one?
  • Does your wedding officiant work from a “fixed text ceremony?” (that means that his/her ceremony text is the same, word for word for every couple) .
  • Is your wedding officiant willing to let you to personalize your wedding ceremony and offer you choices- such as different texts, suggestions about wedding traditions? Is he/she willing to give you help with writing your own vows? Does your officiant give you information about wedding paper work?
  • Is your officiant knowledgeable about and open to the many kinds of “creative”/alternative wedding ceremony ideas now available
  • What exactly is included in your fee? Will you be getting an opportunity to meet with your officiant and to go over your wedding ceremony before it takes place? Or does the service your officiant provides consist of “walk-in and read from the book”?
  • Is your officiant open to directing a rehearsal if you need one? (Usually there is an extra fee for a rehearsal)

Making sense of the paperwork

The Wedding Licence

To get married a couple must purchase a WEDDING LICENCE at any City/Town Hall (Clerk’s Office) in the Province of Ontario. Your Wedding licence is valid anywhere in the Province of Ontario for 90 days. After that your licence expires.

We have given an example link – The City of Burlington, Marriage Licence Information . All city/town halls have virtually the same guidelines for wedding licences and provide useful information and links. Check your city hall’s website or call them before you go there.

On the day of the wedding, you (and your witnesses) write/sign (not print) your names as they appear on the MARRIAGE LICENCE form. The person who marries you is required by law to mail your licence for registration to the Registrar General of the Province of Ontario.

The record of marriage
This is a detachable portion of your marriage licence which the person who marries you fills in (together with your witnesses) and gives to you. This is a now simply a record of your marriage and is no longer recognized as a legal document by the Province of Ontario.
The certificate of marriage

Consequently the Province of Ontario strongly advises couples to apply for the “Certificate of Marriage.” In most cases the City Hall where you bought your wedding licence will give you an application form. But you can also obtain this certificate in various ways. (See our attachment).

The Certificate of Marriage is a LEGAL DOCUMENT. You can also apply on line at www.serviceontario.ca to order your certificate or call 1- 800-461-2156 (The Registrar General of Ontario for more information.)

The marriage register

Couples, their witnesses and the person who marries them write their names into a MARRIAGE REGISTER. This register is a legal document back-up to your marriage and is government property. All persons registered to officiate marriages in the Provinces of Ontario must have a Marriage Register as a back-up record of your marriage.