I Want My Friend To "Officiate" My Wedding
What you need to know about legalities in Canada
There is a trend now in days where people want their friends to “officiate” their special day. This trend comes mostly from the United States where becoming an Officiant is a fairly “easy” process and just about anyone can pay to get licensed (OR even get licensed for free!). Things are *really* different in the US!
To ensure that your marriage is performed properly and legally, an authorized official needs to marry you. There are 2 types of marriage ceremonies performed in Ontario:
Religious marriage: a recognized religious official (like myself, Connie Butera) marries you.
Civil marriage: a judge, justice of the peace or authorized municipal clerk marries you; often at a local municipal office or city hall. **INSIDER TIP! In my experience; getting married at City Hall costs MORE that just hiring your own officiant
So with that said.....unless your friend or family family member is a licensed wedding officiant, then CANNOT MARRY YOU LEGALLY IN CANADA.
There are some crooked Officiants in Canada who market themselves as offering “license signing only” or "paperwork only" - type services. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS ILLEGAL. Using an Officiant who offers or markets such a service is HIGHLY DANGEROUS. The processing office in Thunder Bay is catching wind of people offering these types of services and your marriage could be found illegitimate. An officiant is not allowed to merely just "sign papers" without performing the legal basics of a proper marriage.
The LEGAL BASICS that a licensed Officiant MUST PERFORM to make your marriage legal is:
- Hear your declarations vows to one another
- Sign your paperwork with you and your witnesses in person the day of the wedding
- Pronounce you husband and wife / life partners
An actual legal wedding ceremony can technically take as quick as 5 minutes. We often perform these "legal basics / quickie" type services when couples are having a destination wedding but want the legalities done in Canada. I've married people many times around a table at a local coffee shop for example :)
Still want to have a family or friend involved???
There is no problem in still incorporating your loved one into your special day. What we CAN do is have them share a special role in your ceremony, for example by:
- welcoming your guests at the start of the service with some opening remarks
- by telling your love story
- doing a reading
- reading a special poem
- reading some lyrics from your favourite song
These are just some of the many ways that they can still have a voice in your ceremony; whist still maintaining the role and legalities of an Officiant.
At Perfectly Planned Parties & Officiating by Connie Butera, we are more than happy to work with you and your family or friend to incorporate them into the ceremony. We will work together to figure out the best flow of service for all parties.
Please note: if your family member or friend requires above and beyond support in creating their role in the service; additional fees may apply for copyrighting / consultation services.