How to get married? Follow these 3 steps to make it official!

Couples are sometimes confused by how convoluted the marriage process might appear to be in Ontario. Really, once you understand it, it is fairly straightforward. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Step 1

You have to obtain a Marriage License. These are issued by municipalities throughout Ontario. It doesn’t matter in which municipality you obtain your License, it will be valid for 90 days throughout the entire province of Ontario. The License is basically a permission to get married. The City Clerk will fill out the first section of the document (the top 1/3 of the license).

Step 2

You have to meet with a registered Officiant (or a Justice of the Peace). Bring the License you obtained in Step 1 with you. You received a License (i.e. permission) to get married in Step 1, so now you should actually become married! In the second section of the License, your officiant testifies with his/her signature that the License has been “solemnified” (i.e. signed) by the couple and two witnesses. The officiant also indicates the date and place where the event took place. You’re married!

Step 3

After the signing of the documents by the bride and groom, the two witnesses and the officiant in Step 2, your officiant must mail the signed License to the Registrar General of Ontario. The office is in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

What happens next?

In Thunder Bay, the office of the Registrar General reviews the entire license document — the parts filled in by the City Clerk (first section) and the Officiant (second part). Next, the Registrar officially “registers” the marriage.

In very rare cases, the Registrar may note a problem with the paperwork. Maybe someone forgot to sign. Maybe there’s something wrong with the date or place. Or maybe the officiant wasn’t a registered individual and thus not legally able to sign the License. (See my Blog post How Do I know My Officiant is legit?). The Registrar and/or City Clerk will follow-up with the Officiant to make sure the issue is addressed. Again, it is very rare that anything would be amiss.

How do I get an official certificate of marriage?

You got married in Step 2. You don’t have to obtain an official Certificate of Marriage. However, some couples like to get this document to frame and keep on display. Also, if applicable, the document is generally required for immigration purposes or name changes. After about 6-10 weeks after you got married in Step 2, you can contact the government for the official certificate. Check this link.

Fine print: On the day you meet with your officiant, you will receive a Record of Solemnization. This is special little document many people like to frame, especially if no Certificate of Marriage is required (i.e. no name change, no immigration or other considerations). However, it is not technically the same as the official certificate you can get later from the Registrar General.

You can check this website for more detailed information. Contact me at 416.938-8520 or at any time if you like to discuss this process.

How do I know if my Officiant is legit?

lSometimes couples confide to me that they are anxious about an officiant’s legitimacy. It’s a good thing to check out. After all, if your officiant isn’t officially registered with the Province of Ontario, your wedding papers are invalid. Also, the province requires your officiant to keep careful records in a registration book obtained by your officiant from the province of Ontario. You have every right to confirm your process. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. I’m happy to assist without further obligations.

Here’s a quick way to check if your officiant is registered and can legally officiate at your weddings:

  • Visit this website. Scroll down and you will see an Excel document. It lists all the officiants currently licensed by the Province of Ontario.
  • Download this list of registered officiants. Search for an officiant’s name. (For example, when you search for “Overduin”, you will find me on it. There is currently also another Overduin on the list, one of my nephews!)
  • If your officiant is on the list you are sure he or she is legitimate and can sign your documents so you are legally married.
A happy day in Hyde Park, Toronto

There are more than 20,000 registered officiants in Ontario. Each officiant gets assigned a license number by the province. This license number isn’t on the Excel sheet. I’ve had mine for many years now. But I don’t know where you can find the evidence of that. In any case, it doesn’t matter.

The Excel sheet will confirm whether someone is currently licensed by the Province of Ontario. So be sure to check the Officiant list if you are feeling hesitant. You deserve the best possible treatment on your wedding day!

Don’t hesitate to contact me at to learn more about my services.

What Date to Pick for Post COVID-19 Memorial?

Lately, due to COVID-19 many families end the obituary for their loved one with a simple note: “A Memorial will be held at a later date.”

This statement holds out hope for the future when families plan to gather and celebrate the life of the person who passed.

However, how do we keep our promise to come together at a later date? Maybe the best way forward is to simply pick a date and put it on the calendar. Putting a memorial date on the calendar today will help you keep your promise to give your loved one the Celebration of Life so richly deserve.

How should we pick a meaningful date for the Celebration of Life?

One obvious date to plan a memorial may be the anniversary of your loved one’s passing. But, that’s likely close to an entire year away.  Perhaps many relatives and friends would rather pick a significant date from within the life of the deceased, such as their birthday or their wedding anniversary, or the day they achieved a major milestone in life. Or perhaps a significant date in the life of their most significant other could work, say, the day a spouse may have pre-deceased them.

Families could also pick a date from a religious calendar that was meaningful to the deceased. For example, using an example from the Christian calendar, families may consider Good Friday or maybe the first Sunday of Advent.  Families without a faith tradition could consider Canadian Thanksgiving in October or Family Day in February. Both days may provide an excellent spot on the calendar to celebrate your loved one who passed during COVID-19.

Last but not least, there’s never a “good” time or a “bad” time to celebrate a life well lived. Everybody processes the passing of a loved one in his or her own way.