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How to Obtain a Marriage License in Canada

Civil law requires marriage licenses. Be sure to obtain the license in advance and be aware of any applicable fees.

Applicants 18 years of age and over:

– Both applicants may need to be present 

– Documentation, valid driver’s license with photo, passport

– final divorce papers (In Canada: Pre 1985 Divorces – Decree Absolute, Post 1985 Divorces – Certificate of Divorce) to verify the date of divorce and bride’s current name. 

– There is no waiting period. The license may be used upon issuance. The license is generally valid for 90 days. 

– The ceremony be conducted anywhere the couple desires within jurisdiction of the license. Following the ceremony, the license is returned to the Record’s Office. After recording, copies may be obtained from the Record’s Office upon request either in person or by mail. The fee for a certified copy varies. Offices are open during regular business hours. 

Applicants Under 18 years of age: 

– In addition to the documentation required above, consent of one parent or legal guardian and a court order may be required. 

– Consent forms can be obtained from the Clerk’s Office in your area. The consent form must be signed in the presence of a Deputy Clerk or a Notary Public by one parent or legal guardian. The consenting person must present proof of identity. If the legal guardian is signing the consent, bring the certified Letters of Guardianship.

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Wedding Procession

Everything is now set for the procession.

In Protestant services, the congregation stands as soon as the wedding march begins; the Marriage Officiant enters and takes his place at the front of the ceremony site. The groom and the best man follow him to a position just in front of the first, right-hand row, and all turn to watch the procession.

The ushers enter from the back of the ceremony site in pairs according to height, followed by the bridesmaids. If there is an odd usher or bridesmaid, the smallest leads off first. The maid or matron of honor comes next, followed by the ring bearer, if there is one, and the flower girl. The pages, if any, follow the bride, carrying her train. Catholic brides and grooms may follow the same procedure. Jewish processions vary according to local traditions, whether Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform and according to the preference of the families.

In the simplest Reform service, the ushers lead the procession in pairs, followed by the bridesmaids in pairs. The groom comes down the aisle next, with his best man followed by the maid of honor, the flower girl, if there is one, and the bride on her father’s right. The groom’s parents and the bride’s mother may join in the procession and remain standing under the chupa or canopy during the service. The rabbi and cantor, followed by the couples’ grandparents, the ushers, the bridesmaids, the best man, the groom and his parents, the bride’s honor attendants, her flower girl(s), and the bride with her parents, may lead an elaborate procession. Ask your rabbi how he prefers to organize the procession, and take into account the amount of space available for the wedding party to stand in.

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Wedding Day – A Few Variations

The Military Wedding

Brides can have the fanfare and splendor of a military wedding when they marry military officers on active duty. The unique characteristic of a military wedding is the traditional arch of sabers (swords in the navy) under which the bride and groom walk at the end of the ceremony. The ushers who are all fellow officers of the groom in full dress uniform form this arch. The procession and ceremony follows standard procedures.

The Double Wedding

Good friends or close relatives may have a double wedding. The great appeal of a double wedding is the emotional as well as financial saving it offers families facing two successive weddings. Double weddings are usually formal and follow the same rules of dress as any other formal wedding.

The House Wedding

A house or home wedding may hold a sentimental attraction for either the bride or the groom. One’s own home or that of a relative or friend can provide a unique setting for a wedding.

For a religious ceremony at home, a substitute altar and a kneeling bench or cushions may be necessary. These could be set in front of any attractive background such as a fireplace or a floral screen. Ribbons or ropes of flowers and greens could form pathways to the altar. The procedures of a semiformal wedding are followed, however, there have been extremely well done formal affairs held at homes.

The Outdoor Wedding

In a formal garden wedding, the “altar” can be a beautiful canopy located in the most scenic spot. Tents can be erected for protection in case of bad weather. Some of the most beautiful weddings are conducted outdoors.

The Second Marriage

A second time bride may be married in a formal, religious ceremony if her faith permits, but older widows and divorcees often choose simple ceremonies attended only by relatives and a few close friends. It used to be a rule that a second time bride never wears white or a veil but today many girls will choose traditional wedding attire. Brides will wear what makes them most happy ignoring tradition.

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Wedding Day Timing

There are many types of ceremonies, traditions and customs. The majority of Christian brides use the following procedures, but you must determine with your family and Marriage Officiant what procedures you will follow on your wedding day.

The following schedule is recommended for a large formal wedding taking place about fifteen minutes from the bride’s home:

Two hours before the ceremony, the bride should begin dressing with her mother and her Maid of Honor.

One hour before the ceremony, the bridesmaids, all fully dressed, gather with their flowers and pose for pictures.

45 to 60 minutes before the ceremony, the ushers arrive at the ceremony site and put on their boutonnieres. They wait near the entrance for the arrival of the first guests.

30 minutes before the ceremony, the organist plays the introductory music while the ushers escort guests to their seats. The brides’ friends and relatives are seated on the left side of the ceremony site; the groom’s to the right.

At this time, the groom and his best man arrive. This is when the Marriage Officiant checks the marriage license, receives his fee from the best man and gives last minute instruction he may find necessary.

10 minutes before the ceremony, the Maid of Honor, bridesmaids, and other attendants arrive at the ceremony site. Followed by the bride’s mother, the groom’s parents and other members of both families. The bridal party and the parents wait in the entranceway while the other relatives are seated.

Five minutes before the ceremony, the mother of the groom is escorted to her seat in the first row on the right side of the aisle. The father of the groom follows a few feet behind the usher escorting his wife, and then takes his seat beside her. The bride and her father arrive in a chauffeured limousine about this time or stand inside at a back entrance of another room where the guests won’t see her. Her mother is escorted to her seat in the front row. If guests are waiting at this time, they should be seated first. The bride’s mother is always the last person seated by an usher. As she starts down the aisle, the bride and her father join the waiting members of the wedding party.

Just before the ceremony, two ushers walk in step to the front of the aisle to lay the aisle ribbons and canvas. The ribbons, used only at very formal weddings, remind guests to stay in their places until the parents and other relatives have been escorted out. At this time, the guests should all have been seated and the candles lit. The ushers can now pull out the runner if there is one. Care must be taken that the runner be secure if one is used and not cause the bridal party the chance of slipping.