Ottawa Weddings by the Numbers

Ottawa has a vibrant wedding industry. There are several vendor shows every year with offerings by local suppliers. During any Saturday in the summer, the downtown area is crowded with limos of brides and grooms being transported to and from favorite photo spots. Have you ever wondered how many weddings happen in Ottawa every year?

Amy and Andrew married on the Rideau Canal for Valentine's Day
Amy and Andrew married on the Rideau Canal for Valentine’s Day

I have been performing wedding ceremonies since 2004 and have seen many changes in style – from wedding dresses, flowers, and décor. The stock market crash of 2008 brought smaller weddings. Superstition with the number 13 led to lower number of weddings being held in 2013 – some businesses saw a 30% drop in bookings.

For every marriage, whether religious or civil, a marriage license is required so that the province of Ontario can register the marriage. I sent a query to the City of Ottawa for the number of Marriage Licenses issued by year for the last three years. The results are in a table below:

Year 2013 2014 2015
Marriage Licenses Issued 4380 4435 4460
Marriages at City Hall 1302 1113 1288

The data tells us two important facts:

  • Marriages are growing at a rate of about 2%
  • City Hall performs on average 28% of marriages

These can lead us to infer the following:

With a couple spending an average $25,000 per wedding and if we include guest travel and expenses, the Ottawa wedding industry can be estimated to be worth $120 million per year.

The number of wedding venue space is not increasing at the same rate which creates a shortage of reception choices on the most popular dates. Brides and grooms are now booking off-days (Thursday) or off-season (Winter) or very much in advance (20 months) to secure a venue.

The percentage of weddings led by officiants is on the rise. This is based on decreasing number of church weddings and a steady City Hall rate. Brides and grooms are increasingly wanting a wedding that fits their style and at the same location as their reception. Outdoor weddings in any season is very desirable by brides and grooms.

The growth rate of marriages is significantly less than the City of Ottawa population growth. This could mean that more couples are electing to not get married or at least delaying it. I meet many brides and grooms who have been, as one bride put it, “married by mortgage” for some time before going through a ceremony.