PATHWAY TO BECOMING A CANADIAN WEDDING OFFICIANT

OVERVIEW & ROLE OF CWO

There are 2 key parts to the journey to becoming a Licensed Registered Officiant in a province or territory in Canada:

Getting Licensed and/or Registered: Each Canadian province and territory has its own set of requirements for individuals to become registered (licensed) to solemnize marriages in their jurisdiction.

Receiving professional training: Officiants learn how to craft and conduct memorable wedding ceremonies for couples and their guests.

CWO is NOT an accreditation body – our role is guidance and recommendations. We do not offer training programs except during our WOW, Wedding Officiant Wednesday, sessions which are focused on professional development and/or networking.

There are 3 pathways offered by licensing and/or ordination organizations:

  1. Ordination and licensing only
  2. Ordination, licensing, and wedding ceremony training
  3. Wedding ceremony training only

To follow is a brief overview of the Canadian regulations covering marriage laws and who is entitled to solemnize marriages in this country. A summary of the regulations for each province will be included at the end of the page.

 

On the beach
Wedding rings

THE MARRIAGE ACTS

Canadian provinces and territories each have distinct regulations controlling how individuals can marry in their jurisdiction, the Marriage Acts.

These pieces of legislation cover everything from who oversees the regulations, to how to get a marriage license, and who can perform a marriage.

Like most pieces of legislation, Marriage Acts are fluid and it’s up to officiants to maintain an understanding of the regulations in the jurisdiction in which they perform service.

A government Minister is  responsible for administering the Marriage Act, including registering individuals to solemnize marriages, in each province.

Ministers also handle situations where a designated person performs duties related to marriage solemnization, ensuring marriages performed according to the rites and customs of various groups are valid.

Regulations vary from province to province. For instance, in Ontario a registered person is not required to perform marriages or assist in solemnization if it conflicts with their religious or spiritual beliefs or the traditions of their group whereas other provinces do not have this kind of regulation in place.

OFFICIANTS: RELIGIOUS & CIVIL

Canadian jurisdictions have 3 categories of individuals who may perform (solemnize) marriages:

1. Ordained marriage officiants: Individuals recognized by their religious body to perform religious marriages. 

Clergy have similar regulations across the country:

  • The person must be ordained, or appointed, by a religious body and abide by their rules.
  • The religious body is responsible for registering the ordained person with the proper government department to entitle them to solemnize marriages.
  • The religious body is duly recognized as a religious body.
  • The person is resident in the jurisdiction in which they intend on solemnizing marriages.

2. Civil marriage commissioners: marriages may be solemnized by the following civil officiants:

  • Judges appointed by federal, provincial, or territorial governments to any court in Canada.
  • Associate judges under the Courts of Justice Act.
  • Justices of the peace under the Justices of the Peace Act.
  • Persons designated by regulations as authorized to solemnize marriages.

Civil marriage commissioners vary from province to province and their protocols will be clarified in the overview of regulations for each province.

3. Indigenous officiants: Individuals belonging to and recognized by a band, First Nation, Métis, Inuit organization, or Indigenous entity recognized as entitled to perform marriages according to their customs and traditions.

Canada's parliament Build
beach wedding

FRIENDS & FAMILY OFFICIANTS

The past few years have witnessed an increased demand for friends or family members to perform weddings. The regulations surrounding this vary from province to province and are outlined below however across Canada a marriage will not be legal without signing and other services perfomed by a licensed individual.

LINKS TO PROVINCIAL/TERRITORIAL REGULATIONS & SERVICE PROVIDERS

Ontario flag

ONTARIO