See a list of frequently asked questions below.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a list of frequently asked questions about officiants, the wedding process in Ontario and the practicalities of getting married in Toronto. Note that every wedding is different, and so many of the guidelines provided regarding time and structure and price are only intended to give you a rough idea of what to expect.
What is an officiant?
An officiant is an individual licenced by the Province of Ontario to perform weddings.
Who can perform weddings in Ontario?
Marriages in Ontario can be performed by religious officials who have been authorized by the Province (such as a Catholic Priest or Jewish Rabbi) or by individuals who have been licenced by the Province to perform marriages (including justices of the peace, judges, municipal clerks, and other licenced individuals). All of these individuals would be considered “officiants”.
Are marriages performed by one type of officiant more "legal" than others?
No. All weddings performed by an authorized/licenced officiant are of equivalent legal status. Certain religions may, however, consider weddings performed by officials of that religion to have different religious status. You should check with your religious official if you have any doubts in this regard.
How do I know if my officiant is properly licenced?
When an officiant is licenced or authorized by the Province, they are given a written document verifying that they are legally authorized to perform wedding in Ontario. You may request that your officiant produce this document as proof of their status. Alternatively, individuals can contact the Ontario Office of the Registrar General (toll free at 1-800-461-2156 or in Toronto at 416-325-8305) and request verbal confirmation that their officiant’s licence is in good standing.
II. Marriage in Ontario – the legal rules
Who can get married in Ontario?
In general, to get married in Ontario the couple must each be 18 years of age (or 16 years of age with parental consent) and who are not already married. For detailed rules, see here.
Do marriage ceremonies have to be in English/French?
No. The ceremony can be in any language, as long as the couple understands that language or with the presence of an Interpreter. Ceremonies can also be performed in more than one language.
Can same-sex couples be married in Ontario?
Yes. The first same-sex marriage in Ontario was in 2001, and same-sex marriages are now permitted by Ontario and Canadian law.
Do marriages have to be in particular locations (such as churches)?
No. A marriage ceremony can be legally performed pretty much anywhere. Ceremonies are commonly performed in private homes, public gardens, and restaurants/banquet halls. Marriages have also been performed at the top of the CN Tower, at the Toronto Islands, and on board ships in Toronto harbour.
Do I need a blood test or medical certificate to get married in Ontario?
No. Neither are required in Ontario.
Can only Canadian/Ontario residents be married in Ontario?
Not at all. People of any nationality and residence can be legally married in Ontario. If you plan to get married in Ontario and then move/return to another country, however, you should check to ensure that the Canadian wedding will be recognized in your new country of residence.
What do we need to get married in Ontario?
To be legally married in Ontario, you first need a marriage licence. A detailed explanation of the requirements is available here. As of 2013, marriage licences were commonly issued within one day and the Provincial fee was $140. The marriage licence expires three months after it is issued, so it can be obtained up to three months in advance of the ceremony.
For certain religious ceremonies, it is possible to be married under the “publication of banns” rather than a marriage licence. For further details, see here “.
At the ceremony, the couple will also need a total of two witnesses, each of whom must be at least 18 years old. The officiant can not act as a witness.
Where can I get married?
As stated above, a marriage ceremony can be performed anywhere within Ontario whether in a private or public venue.
For couples who need to rent a room for their ceremony, there are “civic centres” in the Toronto area which have facilities for marriages. Each centre has a room with the appropriate furnishings (chairs for the guests, a table for signing the wedding register, etc) which can be rented by the half-hour. For details on fees and centres contact information, please click here.
Can I get married in a public place?
This is certainly an option, and many couples do choose to be married in a public garden or similar venue. You should contact the venue in advance, however, as many places do ask that you to obtain permission beforehand and some charge a fee. It is the responsibility of the couple, not the officiant, to make these arrangements.
How much do officiants charge?
There is no fixed fee established by law, so officiants are free to charge whatever they and their clients consider fair.
As of 2019, the average fee for a basic wedding performed at a civic centre in the Toronto area might cost $200-$300. Note that this does not include the rental fee paid to the civic centre. In general, any additions to the basic wedding that would require the officiant to spend more time would result in a higher fee. Some examples:
- weddings performed “off site”, which means not at a civic centre. The additional charge would customarily increase the further the officiant has to travel.
- longer weddings. Weddings with more guests, or with complex custom ceremonies would usually take longer to prepare and to perform.
- wedding with rehearsals or multiple meetings.
- weddings with non-standard ceremonies that require the officiant to spend more time in preparation. This would include weddings conducted in multiple languages.
So, for example, for a small off-site wedding (not at a civic centre) in the Toronto area with a dual language ceremony with readings, the officiant might charge $350-$500. For a full-scale off-site wedding with rehearsals and a custom ceremony with hundreds of guests, the fee might be several hundred dollars more. And for weddings commissioned through private organizations, the fee might be more substantial.
The fee quoted would customarily include all of the officiant’s out-of-pocket expenses. However, if there are unusual costs involved (for example, if the wedding were to be performed on a boat and the officiant had to use a water taxi) then the couple would be expected to pay for the extra cost.
Tips for officiants are neither required nor expected, but they are a nice gesture and highly appreciated. 🙂
How far in advance do I need to book an officiant?
Officiants have full schedules, so it is dangerous to leave booking to the last minute. Most couples book their officiant 4-8 weeks in advance, though many officiants will (and do!) take bookings up to a full year in advance.
That being said, most officiants will do their best to be flexible. So if you need to be married tomorrow morning because you are catching a plane tomorrow night, you will usually be able to find an officiant who can help.
How long does a civil ceremony take?
The actual wedding ceremony can be performed in as little as 15-20 minutes. This time will increase if the ceremony includes additional features (such as walking the bride down the aisle, or readings by the officiant or by family members, or special ceremonies). Additional time will also be required at the beginning and end of the ceremony for the legal paperwork, such as preparation of the marriage licence and the register.
Do I need to meet with the officiant before the wedding?
Not at all. Many couples deal with any questions over email/telephone (especially for quick civic centres weddings) and only meet their officiant face-to-face at the wedding itself. Meetings are usually necessary for more elaborate offsite weddings. The meetings are usually held at a public venue, like a coffee shop, and are usually informal lasting 30-45 minutes giving the couple the opportunity to discuss the ceremony, marriage licence and ask any questions they might have.
Things your officiant may want to know.
Some of the things that your officiant will want to know when booking a wedding:
- Do you have a marriage licence that is less than 3 months old and will you have two witnesses present at the ceremony? Or if you do not have the licence yet, will you have it by the wedding date? These are required by law for the officiant to marry you.
- Where and when is the wedding? Many officiants have full calendars, so they may already be booked on certain dates and at certain times.
- How many guests do you anticipate having at the wedding?
- What language or languages do you want the ceremony to be performed in? Our site may have some languages-capable officiants.
- Will you be using a standard ceremony, or does the ceremony need to be customized? Some couples would like certain readings to be read (either by the officiant, by the couple themselves, or by family or friends), or would like other forms of participation to be inserted into the ceremony. This can certainly be done, but it takes a bit more time to prepare.
- What meetings or rehearsals would you like before the wedding?
Once the officiant has the necessary information, they will customarily be able to confirm their availability and quote a fee.