You’ve decided to get married. Congratulations. Now one of the questions in your mind is who will perform your ceremony. In Ontario, you must have either a person of religious affiliation, a judge, a justice of the peace or designate perform the ceremony. These are the people who are legally responsible for signing the marriage license and declaring the union.
This leaves you with some options as to how you can proceed with your ceremony:
1) Have it performed at City Hall. In Ottawa, the wedding ceremony is restricted to 10 guests and it takes roughly 10 minutes. This method is expedient as it can be scheduled quickly. The romantics may not like this option. So check with your local City Hall to understand their rules.
2) Have it performed in a “church” which includes a chapel, a meeting-house or place set aside for religious worship. In this case, you will need to conform to the requirements of that religious organization. When my sweetheart and I were looking at getting married, we still needed to go through a series of chats with the priest and strongly encouraged to go to a course. A religious organization has the legal discretion to accept or refuse to perform a wedding ceremony. This is formalized in the Ontario Human Rights Code section 18.1 and the Ontario Marriage Act section 20 (6). Essentially they can refuse to perform a ceremony if they deem it contrary to their religious beliefs, doctrines, rites, usages or customs of the religious body. Typically a religious organization will prefer to perform the ceremony in their place of worship.
3) Have an Officiant perform your ceremony. I fall into this category. As an appointed chaplain, I perform ceremonies whenever and wherever the couple decides. I work with the couple to customize the wedding ceremony to what they feel will be best for them. The ceremony can be 10 minutes to 45 minutes; in various languages; expressing different traditions. Canada is a multi-cultural society with a variety of religious backgrounds. I have performed ceremonies where the couples are from different cultures and religious upbringings. This includes many Christian faiths, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Ba’hai, Zorostarian, Buddhist, Wiccan and atheists to name a few. I once had a Czech groom and a Chinese bride whose common second language was English. It truly shows that Love crosses all boundaries and knows no limits.