Making the Marriage Official

Requirements and formalities to follow up after the ceremony...

There are specific requirements in Canada concerning who can authorise a marriage. It is necessary to have an authorised civil official or authorised religious representative to perform and solemnise the marriage. Ceremonies are normally witnessed by at least two people over the age of 16 years.

Religious marriages are performed by religious officials, who are recognised by the relevant provincial/territorial Department of Vital Statistics under the provincial Solemnisation of Marriage Act. Civil ceremonies are performed by an authorised civil official such as a Justice of the Peace, Judge, City Clerk or Marriage Commissioner. Exactly who is authorised to solemnise the marriage varies according to the provincial marriage laws.

Fees also vary and are set by municipal offices.

Registering the Marriage: The Marriage Certificate

Once the marriage ceremony is complete, the couple will be given a Record of Solemnisation of Marriage, sometimes called a Statement of Marriage. This is usually signed by the two parties getting married, the official who carried out the ceremony and the two witnesses present. This is merely a record of the marriage, not a legal document.

The Marriage Certificate must be applied for at the provincial Department of Vital Statistics. However, it is usual for the official who performed the ceremony to help complete the relevant Marriage Registration Form and send it to the relevant Department of Vital Statistics. If the official does not carry out this process, it is possible to apply independently to the relevant Department of Vital Statistics for the Certificate of Marriage, for which there is normally a fee involved in registering the marriage. The Marriage Certificate proves the marriage is official; it is a legal document certifying the marriage.

Change of Name

There is no legal requirement to change surname after getting married. In order to change a name, all ministries and government agencies must be notified. A copy of the marriage certificate is required in order to change name on official documents such as:

  • credit cards
  • driver's license
  • social insurance card
  • bank documents
  • insurance forms