Performing a Friend’s Wedding Ceremony
Can I get ordained online, such as with the Universal Life Church, and legally perform a wedding ceremony in Ontario? In short -No.
You can, however, perform a Symbolic Ceremony. And during the ceremony, you would say that you are facilitating or performing the wedding, rather than referring to yourself as an Officiant.
You see, weddings in Canada are governed provincially and vary from province to province, so I’m writing a guide on how to officiate a friend or family member’s wedding, while still using the services of a wedding officiant for the legalities granted to an ordained Minister.
Other terms commonly used are Celebrant, Marriage Commissioner, Wedding Minister, Wedding Clergy.
To be an Officiant in Ontario, a person must be ordained by an organization that has been approved by the province and has a contract with the province to licence their members to perform weddings. Members who are licensed are given a Clergy Registration Number that is entered on the couple’s marriage licence. And, a licensed person must abide by the Ontario Marriage Act. Licensed Wedding Officiants in Ontario are listed on the Ontario Registered Religious Officiants List: Registered marriage Officiants - Datasets - Ontario Data Catalogue
How to work with an Officiant
There are several options available for couples who are wanting a friend or family member to conduct their Symbolic Ceremony.
1. The couple and two witnesses can meet the Officiant. They can sign the paperwork before, or after the wedding. Legally, they will have a cere-mini to agree to marry one another, sign the licence, and the Officiant would declare them married.
2. The Officiant can travel to the wedding venue to sign the marriage licence during the ceremony. You (or the Officiant, or both of us) would prepare the script, which would need to include the key legal parts of the Ontario Marriage Act. This is mainly asking for the couple’s consent to be married to each other. At one point in the ceremony after this consent is given, you would invite the Officiant, the couple, and their witnesses to fill out the legal paperwork (the Marriage Licence, Record of Solemnization, and Registrar’s Book). The Officiant would then declare the couple married.
When performing the ceremony with an Officiant there to legally marry the couple, you must include a part where you ask for the couple to declare their consent to marry each other.
Here are some examples:
Sample #1“_____ have you come here willingly and upon your own accord to marry _____?” ( “I Have”)
Sample #2 (Repeat After Me) I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, _______, may not be joined in matrimony to ________.
Sample #3 ____, you have chosen ____ to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband/partner/spouse. Do you promise to have and to hold her/him/them, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part? ( “I Do”)
Sample #4 ___, you have chosen ______ to be your wife/husband/spouse/partner. Will you love and respect her/him/them? Will you be honest with her/him/them always? Will you stand by her/him/them through whatever may come? (Answer: “I Will”)
That is the legal part.
Typically, when people are asked to officiate a friend’s wedding, they focus on how to write the ceremony, but a GREAT ceremony has very little to do with the speaking parts. I’m about 90% done my 50-page guide on how to PERFORM a ceremony and how to be prepared for anything that may happen. Basically - What are the most common newbie mistakes and how to avoid them!
Why you should dump the tradition of putting Dad on the bride’s right side!
What are the best questions to ask to get the best stories to tell?
How do I conduct wedding rehearsals that aren’t boring?
Don’t worry, I include ceremony and reading samples as well, but the mostly it looks at all of the little things I’ve seen go wrong over the last decade and how to be prepared for everything. However, if you have any questions that I may not have thought to answer – email me and let’s chat!
Photo Credit: Tom Powell Photography