For the most current information on getting married in the Province of Alberta, I encourage you to visit the Government of Alberta websites on the Marriage Act or on Marriage Licences . As a general guideline, following are some answers to frequently asked questions.
What do I need to get married? You require a valid Province of Alberta marriage licence, a marriage officiate, at least two witnesses over the age of 18, a date, time and location. Marriage licences from other Provinces are not acceptable.
Important note on Marriage Registration: If a couple was legally
married in another jurisdiction, they CANNOT register their marriage or be re-married in Alberta. Each
government jurisdiction has its own laws on marriages. The jurisdiction in
which a marriage ceremony took place will register the marriage under their
jurisdictional laws. Alberta only has the authority to govern and register
marriages that take place in Alberta. Marriages that took place outside Alberta
are not registered in Alberta. If a couple has met the laws
of the jurisdiction where the marriage took place and if the marriage was
registered or is registerable, then they would not meet the requirements of
Alberta’s legislation to get a marriage licence here. Ultimately
if a couple is unsure of their legal marital status, they are encouraged to seek
legal counsel to determine if their marriage is valid.
How do I get a marriage licence? As a couple, you appear together at a Provincial registries office where you express your desire and produce proof of identification. If either person has been married before the 'Final Decree' papers for the divorce must also be presented at this time. Each person will be asked for the respective name of their father and mother, including their birth place and maiden names. The registries office will then grant a marriage licence, valid for 3 months. A blood test is not required, and the licence is effective immediately upon issuance--there is no waiting period to get married!
Where can we hold the wedding ceremony? You can get married virtually anywhere that is suitable to you. For example a local park, a hall, a hotel, your home, a vehicle, or even in my home. The wedding can be as large or small as you wish, although the minimum size is five. (Couple seeking marriage, marriage officiate and 2 witnesses over the age of 18) Without exception, Alberta Law does not permit marriage by proxy.
How long is the wedding ceremony? Each ceremony is unique to the couple. While a typical length of the formalities is about 20 minutes, (45 minutes from when the wedding starts until conclusion) the inclusion of custom features or other parties, such as children, will influence the overall timing.
Do weddings typically start late? NO Most weddings start on time. Given Officiants and venues schedule multiple events per day, delays cannot usually be accommodated.
Does the wedding have to be formal and how much can I customize it? The wedding can be as formal or informal as you wish it to be, however please remember that this is a civil, not-religious, ceremony. With the exception of two statements required by Law, your entire marriage ceremony may be customized. The two statements which must be made be each party and which cannot be altered in any way are:
(1) "I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, (name) may not be joined in matrimony to (name)."
(2) "I call upon those persons present to witness that I, (name), do take you, (name), to be my lawful wedded spouse (or partner)."
Is pre-marriage counselling required? No, however for standard and rehearsal styled service, I do like to meet with you before the ceremony so that we can go through the ceremony and paperwork to ensure your day reflects your desires and goes smoothly.
Does a marriage commissioner provide a marriage certificate? While
I issue a marriage statement at the time of your wedding, the Government issued Marriage
Certificate is obtained through Alberta Registries upon completing an
application form available through local registries offices. Your
marriage statement as provided by me at the conclusion of the ceremony, is
typically sufficient for changing one's name on many documents, such as
your driver’s licence and bank accounts. Please note that ONLY
Vital Statistics can provide you with a formal Statement of
Marriage. This will be available, should you choose to order it,
typically within 15 working days from date of your marriage.
Are wedding rings required to get married? No. While wedding rings are traditional, there is no legal requirement for rings to be a part of a civil marriage ceremony. The choice of none, one, two or more rings is yours.
Can my pet take part in our ceremony? This is your ceremony. If you wish your pet to be involved, then yes! To prevent surprises, I do suggest though that any pet be on a leash.
Is there a restriction as to when and where we can hold our ceremony? Within reason, no! If you desire an outdoor wedding at midnight, or an indoor wedding at noon, the choice is yours.
Do I have to change my last name when I get married? No. For example, a wife has a choice of surnames to use after marriage, including her maiden name, a previous married name, her current husband's surname or any combination of the above providing it is not more than 2 surnames, with or without the use of a hyphen. The use of the husband's surname by the woman after marriage is legally accepted in Alberta.
Can I have a themed wedding? Yes! This is your ceremony, so it is important it reflects your personality and desires. Typically if your wedding theme includes special attire, such is provided for your Officiant.
Do I have to invite my Officiant to our reception? While such is a common practice, there is no obligation to invite your Officiant to any function associated with your wedding.
Are gratuities required? While such is a common practice, there is no obligation to provide any of your service providers with a gratuity.
Marriage Licence Requirements
To obtain a marriage licence in Alberta, you must meet the following requirements:
You must be at least 18 years old (if you are younger than 18, all legal guardians must consent).
You must show acceptable proof of identity with a photo such as a valid driver's licence, valid passport, valid Permanent Residency Card or Canadian Citizenship Card.
Both parties must provide their parents' full names (including their mother's maiden name) as well as their birth places.
You cannot marry your grandparent, parent, grandchild, child or sibling who is related by whole blood, half blood or adoption
Your current legal marital status must be single.
If you are divorced, you must present proof the divorce is finalized (ex: Certificate of Divorce or a Decree Absolute).
You must have your wedding in Alberta, however you do not have to be an Alberta resident to get married within the province.
You must be free of the influence of drugs and alcohol when you apply for a Marriage Licence and when you participate in the wedding ceremony.
Both parties to the marriage must apply for their marriage licence together.
Additional requirements for special circumstances:
Both parties to the marriage must speak English
(Note: If one party does not speak English, it is their
responsibility to provide an interpreter who is over 18 years old and is fluent
in both English and the language requiring translation. If the registry agent
issuing the Marriage Licence is fluent in the other language, then that registry
agent may proceed as the interpreter for issuing the Marriage Licence. The
couple applying for a licence cannot translate for each other.)
If either party is deaf, a sign language interpreter may be required.
If either party is mentally challenged and a trustee or guardian has been appointed, proof that their trustee or guardian has been informed of the upcoming marriage is required.
Blood tests are not required.
I am unable to conduct your wedding if in my sole and absolute discretionary
opinion you are under the influence of any altering substance including but not
limited to alcohol and/or any drugs or if the ceremony location subjects your Officiate
to second-hand or transfer cannabis smoke.
Weddings encompass the entire range of emotions, joys and stresses. They reflect your uniqueness and characteristics. While no two weddings are the same, there are many commonalities in the planning, deciding and managing of each. Our unique CustomVows planning meeting has consistently proven invaluable in providing you many tools to help make your wedding day as perfect as you have imagined.