legal basics of a wedding ceremony

I often get asked what the bare minimum is to make a marriage or wedding legal in the Province of Ontario.  Technically, a wedding ceremony can be as fast as 5 minutes!!   Your licensed wedding officiant will be required to (at a minimum); do the following with you:

  • Vows & Statement Of Intentions - they need to hear that you love each other and intend to enter into the sacrament of marriage.  That you intend to spend your future together and that you are both in agreement.  There are various standard verbiage options around this that you can select from with your officiant. 
  • Signing of the license - you will need to obtain a license from you local town and during the wedding ceremony we will sign that paperwork, together with your witnesses
  • Pronouncement - as an officiant; I will pronounce you in the way that you choose. For example; husband and wife, life partners, Mr. & Mrs. Smith etc. 

And that's all folks!!!   That's technically all you need to have a legal wedding ceremony in Ontario.   Now, with that said, here are some things to note.   EVERYTHING ELSE IS CEREMONIAL FLUFF as I like to call it :)    Things like ring exchanges and even the KISS are NOT MANDATORY nor part of the legalities of a wedding service.   So you can choose to have those items or skip 'em! 

Please note, it is illegal in Ontario to perform a wedding over ZOOM or another video platform.  The officiant MUST be with you physically during the ceremony to perform the above legal basics.  


A lot of couples who choose an elopement or who are planning a destination wedding choose to do a legal basics only ceremony, in order to possibly save the other ceremonies aspects for another "optics wedding" that they will choose to have down the road.  Did you know; most people who have destination weddings are ACTUALLY already legally married (they probably did the legal basics BEFORE leaving for their vacation back home).   It is much easier to do the legal basics in Ontario with an officiant and then travel abroad for a non-legal and service.   

Hope that helps answer some common misconceptions.  

~ Connie Butera

Licensed Wedding Officiant in the Province of Ontario