Frequently Asked Questions
WHEN AND WHERE DO WE OBTAIN A MARRIAGE LICENSE?
The Service Ontario web site explains the procedure. A wedding license is good for 3 months after it is issued (Be sure to calculate back from your wedding date so you don’t apply too early). You may download a wedding license application or obtain one at a local municipal office or City Hall in Ontario (except a Township office). You will need to provide identification for both bride and groom and proof of divorce, if applicable, although only one person is required to bring the application to the municipal office. No blood test is required. You can usually pick up the application and receive the license on the same day. There is no waiting period in Ontario so you could be married the same day as well. Cost may vary but is about $130.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE CONTACT YOU AND AGREE ON A DATE?
Normally, we meet with you once or twice to get to know you both, understand your wishes and expectations and answer any questions you might have. At the first meeting, your officiant will offer you a package of suggestions of readings, wording for your vows, the ring ceremony, etc. You can read through these suggestions at your leisure and e-mail us with your choices. Your officiant will work with you, usually via e-mail, to refine your ceremony, adding in special poetry or other readings or rituals that you request until you are happy with the final product. After the ceremony has been performed, we will give you a printed copy of your ceremony.
DO WE NEED TO BE MEMBERS OF THE UNITARIAN CHURCH OR OF ANY CHURCH FOR YOUR OFFICIANTS TO MARRY US?
No. Unitarians in Canada have a long history of providing services to many other people, those who belong to other churches and those who do not.
MAY WE SPEAK WITH AN OFFICIANT BEFORE WE RESERVE?
Yes. Please feel free to call or e-mail us with your questions. The Chaplains page includes contact information for our chaplains.
HOW LONG DOES A TYPICAL WEDDING CEREMONY LAST?
Most ceremonies take 10-20 minutes but they might be longer if you choose to add music, readings or other small rituals (handfasting, water or sand ceremony, for example). Ask us for suggestions.
CAN WE BE MARRIED WHEREVER WE CHOOSE?
Generally yes. Our chaplains are licensed to perform weddings in Ontario and have done so in public parks, in backyards, and on the water. Check with your officiant at your first meeting if you have an unusual site in mind.
CAN AN OFFICIANT PERFORM OUR CEREMONY ON ANY DAY OF THE WEEK?
Yes. The only restrictions are the personal schedules of our individual chaplains. If one officiant is not available on a given date, another may be able to step in.
MY FIANCE AND I HAVE BEEN MARRIED BEFORE. IS THIS A PROBLEM?
No. As long as you both have proof of your widowed or divorced status (a legal divorce document or a death certificate) you are free to marry again and we will be happy to help you craft a ceremony that suits your situation. Check with City Hall when you apply for your wedding license if you have been divorced outside Canada. Special rules may apply.
CAN MY CHILDREN PARTICIPATE IN THE CEREMONY?
Yes. They may accompany you down the aisle, act as witnesses if old enough, or offer readings or music. We can suggest many ways to include your children in the ceremony, regardless of their age.
MAY WE WRITE OUR OWN VOWS? MAY WE HAVE FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS DO READINGS, BLESSINGS, ETC? MAY OUR PETS BE PART OF THE CEREMONY?
Yes. We recognize that each couple is unique and has their own concerns, requests and wishes. Our chaplains are happy to work with you to write a ceremony that makes you happy and expresses your individuality. For more information on having friends or relative participate, click on Legal Requirements.
WILL WE NEED A REHEARSAL AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
If you are planning a more formal wedding with bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc. a rehearsal is recommended. Often, the attendants are more nervous than the bride and groom – they want to understand their role and they don’t want to let you down! Cost of a rehearsal is $100.
For more information on costs, click on Cost of a Ceremony.
WHAT DOES A LAY CHAPLAIN WEAR WHEN PERFORMING OUR CEREMONY?
Your officiant will discuss this with you. Business attire is often worn but you may prefer something more or less formal depending on the style and size of your wedding.
WHAT TIME DOES THE OFFICIANT ARRIVE BEFORE THE CEREMONY? WHEN DOES HE/SHE LEAVE?
Normally, the chaplain arrives 15-30 minutes before the ceremony and leaves when the legal documentation is signed and handed over to a person you will designate. (You’ll be busy receiving congratulations and celebrating!) The officiant does not normally stay following the ceremony for a reception.
CAN YOU PERFORM A BILINGUAL CEREMONY?
Anne Coward is happy to offer you a package of suggested readings, vows etc. to be performed in French.
DO YOU PERFORM SAME SEX MARRIAGES?