I love weddings; so much so that I’ve ‘married’ my husband of 10 years in the Czech Republic, Cyprus, and India. We’ve had a Czech wedding ceremony in a castle which dates back to the 11th Century, a party on one of Cyprus’ exquisite beaches, and a traditional walk around the fire in the captivating city of Mumbai, India.
Which is why when we moved to Canada in 2005, the first question my husband asked me was –when shall we tie the knot here?
Getting married in Canada is rather similar to getting married in the United States. In both instances, you’ll need to obtain a marriage certificate and documents to support your status. In the United States, you might also need to undergo a blood test, which Canada does not require.
In fact, getting married in Canada is relatively easy, and this despite the fact the government is tightening up on what it believes are ‘immigration weddings’, namely, when a person marries a Canadian citizen for the sole purpose of obtaining residency.
Assuming you’re marrying for love, here’s how you can say ‘I do’ in Canada.
The first thing you need to acquire is a marriage license and certificate, and to apply for this, you need to select a date for the wedding, and offer proof of your present marital status and proof of identification (you are who you say you are). This proof can be in the form of your birth certificate, IMM/Immigration form, Permanent Residency, Citizenship card, Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card, or the Government of Canada Indian Status Card. Whatever means you select, your full legal name, birth date, and place of birth should be confirmed. If for some reason you do not have any of these documents, then a driver’s licence, passport, credit card, or bank card might be acceptable.
Are you over the age of 19 years? If not, you will need to obtain parent or guardian consent before the blissful day. Similarly, if you are divorced you need to show proof of divorce using a Divorce Certificate or a Decree Absolute. If you are widowed, you’ll need to attach a Death Certificate or a Funeral Home Certificate to your paperwork.
Different provinces might have additional requirements, so it’s best to check provincial websites.
Additionally, if you do have your paperwork in a language that is not English or French, you need to get it translated and signed by a notary public.
Your marriage license is valid for 3 months, so you’ll need to get married within this period (or apply for a new license). Only one partner need apply for the license, filling out both parties’ names on it. The current fee is $100, and this must be paid at the time of application.
Once you have your paperwork in hand, you can elect to have a civil or religious ceremony, which must be witnessed by two people. Civil ceremonies are appointed by ‘marriage commissioners’, while a religious ceremony can be performed by a representative who is registered with the Vital Statistics Agency, under the Marriage Act. There is a fee attached to this as well; ranging from $50-$100 for a marriage commissioner to a predetermined fee set by the religious clergy in question.
Once the ceremony is completed, it is registered with the Vital Statistics Agency and a formal and legal marriage certificate is issued. With paperwork in hand, you can continue to use your maiden name or adopt your spouse’s surname. If you wish to use a hyphenated name, then you will need to undergo a legal name change.
So, it’s a pretty straightforward process that millions have gone through; in fact, Canada when compared to the United States has a higher marriage rate, with 84% of families headed by married couples.
Can’t wait to join these numbers? There are some fun places to dream up your fairy-tale wedding in without having to travel far from your doorstep. Planning a winter wedding? The Icy Hotel in Quebec offers one of a kind wedding, European style. Need to aim higher? Check out Banff in Alberta or Whistler in BC and get married in the mountains surrounded by spectacular scenery. Want to sail through your wedding day? Then Nova Scotia is the perfect place for an ocean-based wedding. And if you can’t get enough of ‘falling in love’, then Niagara Falls offer the ideal backdrop for tying the knot.