When Do You Need To Sign The Marriage Register?

Signing the marriage register and the license are an essential legal part of the wedding ceremony. But when in the ceremony it is included is mostly traditional. It can be done at other times.

“We’ll take a moment to sign the register,” I announce at most weddings. Thus begins what most people believe is the boring part of the service. The audience sits there watching the couple and witnesses sign the legal papers declaring their marriage. It seems to take forever.

In the traditional format, this comes after the declaration of marriage and after the kiss. The signing is followed by more prayers until the end. What a buzz kill!

But this is not the only appropriate time to sign the marriage license. If you remember the royal wedding, the couple withdraw from the sanctuary. The signing is done away from the public eye.

I my usual format, I have the signing before the vows. This allows me to finish the ceremony in Hollywood style… with the kiss and then the couple leaves. This builds on the exciting moment of the kiss. It works for Hollywood and it works in real life.

Another option is to sign the papers before the ceremony. This is completed in a relaxed environment. Some couples choose to do it together. For those who have not seen each other before the entrance, I do it individually. This the couple to remove the signing from the public ceremony – which as I said above – most people consider boring.

I use this style when there is threatening weather so I can save time and not get legal paperwork wet. Or when the couple find it cumbersome to their casual style.

Is it legal? Yes. Marriage Acts in Canada state that the license must be signed by the person who is solemnized to perform weddings (ie me) the couple and two witnesses. It does NOT state where in the ceremony this must be performed – only that it must be done.

It is tradition that places the signing after the declaration and kiss. Don’t feel bound by that if you feel differently about the process of signing.