Welcome to ElopeToronto.com!

Welcome to ElopeToronto.com! We provide simple, meaningful, secular (non-religious) humanist marriage ceremonies in Toronto, legally equivalent to a 'civil ceremony' or 'justice of the peace' wedding, for couples looking for a personal alternative to a 'City Hall' wedding. We also provide simple legal weddings for those planning a destination wedding. Mary is licensed as a Marriage Officiant by the Registrar General of Ontario, and the Ontario Humanist Society
SEND AN [ENQUIRY] FORM HERE

Monday

How to arrange a simple legal non-religious 'civil' wedding in Toronto

Simple non-religious 'non-denominational' legal civil weddings, including elopements and private ceremonies, legal ceremonies for destination weddings, (called 'signings' or 'registration of a marriage') and simple family weddings.
We make house calls, and will perform the wedding at your home, condo, in a park, restaurant, or other location of choice. Secular Humanist weddings are equivalent to a "City Hall" or "Justice of the Peace" wedding, but personalized to suit your wishes.

Questions big or small? Or want to see if I'm available?
SEND AN [ENQUIRY FORM] and I'll write back!
See FAQ and main website for more information for both small and larger events.

Mary is licensed as a Marriage Officiant by the Registrar General of Ontario, and the Ontario Humanist Society and has performed over 1200 civil weddings, including same sex weddings since 2004. I am currently the Secular Humanist Chaplain at the University of Toronto  
HUMANISM is an ethical philosophy of secular living, stating we all share a duty of care, to lead ethical lives of compassion and respect, for each other, and for the world we all share. Humanist Wedding Ceremonies are simple, meaningful, non-religious legal marriage ceremonies, which reflect your wishes, your values, and your story. We also provide ceremonies for baby-namings, memorials, and other life events. 

Wednesday

Party room legal wedding - simple and lovely

This delightful couple also had a destination wedding in the South.  So this was their legal wedding, held with just their family witnesses, in the Party Room of their condo.  It was a winter weekday event, so we had the lovely big room to ourselves - with the fire on in the background, and lots of space to take photos.  Here, we've held the brief legal ceremony, and we're just finished signing all the papers!

Party Room Condo wedding

Wedding at short notice - delightful midday ceremony

This great couple were working out plane tickets and witnesses, and a license - and a location - all in a short space of time.  It all came together, with wedding outfits and delighted friends and a luckily available room at the University and a beautiful sunny winter morning.

Tuesday

Small family wedding at Home in Little Italy - Sunday brunch!

We were originally planning on Trinity Bellwoods, but it was COLD, so we had a small home wedding instead at their home near Little Italy.  Lovely and light, just the family, and then everyone went out to brunch to celebrate - and I moseyed on to ANOTHER wedding up on Bathurst, where they had a family brunch in the house, with uncles and aunts and cousins and all.  Lovely busy sunny wedding day!
Home wedding

Saturday

Locations, big and small

We've had lots of weddings of various sizes this summer season.  Elopements in Riverdale Park (a few!) with that stunning view of the CN tower.  Some relaxed events at Trinity Bellwoods and deep in the woods in High Park.
Eloping in High Park
We had family-size weddings in small restaurants, including Bricco, DeSotos, Peter Pan. Also event spaces like The Jam Factory, and  quirky spots like The Gerrard Art Space, as well as some favourite places, like Le Select, and Hart House and The Enoch Turner Schoolhouse.  Some students and faculty (with connections) managed to arrange weddings at faculty rooms at Ryerson and even (hsh!) in the planetarium at UofT, on a quiet morning before school started.  (Well, the bride was an astrophysicist, so she had some pull!). And we've had lots of home weddings - reviving an Edwardian tradition - often in the parent's home (bigger!) or the couple's apartment (smaller!), or sometimes the roofdeck of a condo.
Condo roofdeck with CN tower view
Gerrard Art Space
Most of these were small family weddings, or small private elopements, but even the larger events were mostly family and friends.  Easy to plan, casual and fun, often catered by willing aunties.  Lots of time to talk (and hug) everyone. 

Garden wedding in gold

This was an absolutely delightful wedding at Rosetta McClain, in the beaches.  The couple had some traditional ceremonies as part of their wedding, including a Yoruba "tasting the elements" ritual, which brought much joyous approval, and a crowning ceremony.  A thoroughly wonderful morning.
Rosetta McClain Garden

Sunday

Living room elopement - three decades later

This amazing couple have been together over 30 years.  We had a wonderful wedding in my living room, and a few tears popped up - but mostly we were very cheerful indeed! 
apartment elopment

Wednesday

Snowy outside, tropical inside: Allan Gardens wedding

This happened at noon on a Monday in February - squirrels and turtles and carp inside (and it was toasty and lovely in the cactus garden) and the groom in a kilt and the bride in lovely short sleeves were nice and warm.   Allan Gardens can be very crowded on the weekends, and it closes at 5, and you really can't have more than about 15-20 people, but if that suits your needs, it's a great option. You must BOOK it through the city Parks Department, and bring the printed booking receipt with you for the guards. 
NO POP-UP WEDDINGS PERMITTED.


Cosy Winter Elopement, an anniversary, and Dutch Comfort Food

We had a number of nice elopements this winter, in parks, in hotels, in apartments, and other fun locations, including the CN Tower again, Ripley's Aquarium. [Note: please see this POST on pop-up weddings at landmarks like Museums and tourist spaces. Most places will NOT allow this, as they have lots of annoyed guards on close-circuit cameras.  The wedding at Ripley's was in the Party room, with permission - and then museums passes for all!]

Solstice Wedding 
But inside is great for winter: this little winter solstice wedding took place in my own flat, in front of the fireplace, with just the Bride's family here in town, and the Groom's family skyping in from Sweden.  We had a LOVELY time, as it was also my own 50th wedding anniversary! The couple went to lunch in Yorkville with their family, and then to to the Kensington Solstice Parade.  We went to St Lawrence Market to buy oysters and prosecco (I'm looking forward to another wedding at the St Lawrence Market Kitchen in spring). Then our kids sent us to dinner at Adega, on Elm. They have a private room for weddings.
My family ALSO took us to anniversary lunch at a new Danforth restaurant, BorrelTo.  They are entirely lovely, (I actually married the owners, over on Ward's Island,AND discovered I had also conducted the wedding of the cook's auntie!) and we ate the entire menu of Dutch Comfort Food.  They've never had a wedding there, but they COULD close up for a small private event - the beers are fabulous, and the food is perfect for a cocktail reception.

My husband was invited to the wedding as well.  (It was our anniversary). And now here we are, 50 years ago and now, still laughing together.

Dec 21, 1967 - a bit of emotion
Dec 23, 2017 - still talking!

Saturday

Romantic proposal and wedding on campus

Short version:  the bench-where-the-proposal-was-accepted was duly labelled so by the groom.  We re-united here, with 2 witnesses, and had a short legal wedding, before the couple had their family celebration at the end of the week.
(then they went back to work at the University. I hope they have a working lunch together on the bench occasionally!)
It's tricky to have little weddings on campus, as security staff will usually stop you - but this was a lucky exception, as it was early in the morning at the end of summer term, and nobody noticed us, hiding away. In fact, most of the campus was locked up, so the staff could have a holiday.  But we had the romantic story & the bench to show, just in case.  
the proposal bench (it says: "She said yes")
Newly Married couple (and the bench!)
(again, don't try eloping on campus without permission. The job of the security guards is to stop you.  Please ask for advice, here's an enquiry FORM)

Riverdale Park - baseball and a wedding in the setting sun

Due to a broken scooter and a few snaggles, we didn't get to the wedding till the 7th inning (game going on down below), but we had enough sun for a lovely sunset wedding.   The team congratulated the couple warmly!
Riverdale Park wedding - CN tower view 

Riverdale Park wedding at dusk

Sunday

Trinity Bellwoods elopement - in the north end, tucked in a small grove

Because sometimes you have to avoid the frisbee games, the jogging mommies, and the dogs - but it's a big park, and there is peace on a sunny afternoon 

Trinity Bellwoods Summer Wedding

Comment: and here is the eclipse!  I was wandering around Trinity Bellwoods a few weeks later, handing out safe glasses, and met a couple I married 3 years ago!  ah, Toronto....

Friday

Clubs and halls and stages - Tranzac Club wedding

We have had some lovely weddings in 'club' or 'performance' spaces - they come ready-made with stages, chairs, bars, sound people, lighting & mikes, etc.  We've used movie theatres, real theatres, club bars, ballrooms, and last month another wedding at the Tranzac Club @ Bloor/Brunswick.  Entirely wonderful.

Summer Wedding @ Tranzac Club

Sunday

Downtown Patio Wedding - simple and sunny family wedding

We're actually on Baldwin Street, on the 2nd floor patio, with all of Toronto summer life passing beneath us, and "Despacito" playing from next door.  A short ceremony, some Veuve, and voila! A lovely afternoon. 


Friday

More millennial couples are opting to elope | Toronto Star

More millennial couples are opting to elope | Toronto Star
Well, this was funny. The Star called to ask me about eloping - so I sent them a zillion pages of notes - but they ended up with a just a snippet of text about Toronto, and not much info.  I did offer them some LOVELY stories about creative elopements,

 (today we took a limo + parents down to Polson Pier, where the couple met at the Night Market - voila!  Great time, great view!)
Polson Pier, morning elopement (before the nightclub pool rocks out)
What I wanted the Star to say was that 'eloping' is a historical term for a private wedding - and there are many reasons for a quiet legal wedding, from 'Romantic' to 'Practical'. Sometimes an elopement replaces a Big Fat Wedding, and sometimes it's a practical step before a fancy "destination" wedding.  But generally, it just means small and friendly.

Anyway, here is an article on Eloping in Jane Austen's day :
"The Marriage Act of 1753 made it increasingly difficult for upper class men to “marry down,” and for women to marry men outside their rank. To get around this law, a desperate couple could obtain a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury, or elope to Gretna Green in Scotland, where English law held no sway and marriage at 16 was legal...

Over the years many couples would run away to Gretna Green for their marriages to take place. The ceremonies were usually performed by one of the village blacksmiths who in those days were at the heart of the community and held in suitable regard. Even today, many of the Ministers refer, in their services, to the similarity of a blacksmith joining 2 metals over the anvil to the marriage ceremony joining 2 people as one.

Saturday

Little Toronto outdoor elopement in a 'secret garden' - in plain sight!

Of course it has been raining a lot this year - so we've had to be creative about outdoor elopements. Often, we have two or three ideas, and wait to see what the weather will do.  (It's important to have at least ONE backup location with a roof, though, or an indoor spot in reserve). This fun couple from the USA was at a downtown hotel, but the skies cleared and we slipped into Osgoode Hall as they were closing for the day (the grounds stay open).
Here's a little corner of greenery in the middle of Toronto, with a view of 2 city halls, old and new!  Great, flexible photographer Sara Monika caught the city and the privacy and the happiness.



Tuesday

Library Elopement for literary couples

This is actually a HOME library, but delightful, because it's only one floor of the thousands of books in the collection of a literature professor at UofT. This was a wonderful home elopement of a couple who had just a few close friends and family to their simple wedding.  Some of my colleagues from the writing world turned up too, which was a wonderful surprise for all of us. Book people keep bumping into each other, somehow...

I have held weddings in other libraries, including Robarts, and the actual library stacks at the Faculty of Information Studies, as well as many bookstores.  We had a couple of lovely weddings in the Library at the Grange (Art Gallery of Ontario), which will host a small elopement/family wedding and cater you a wonderful reception or historic afternoon tea.   Yay books.

Friday

Looking for Green Space: Elopements and outdoors ideas

Construction alert! The little pathway between the ROM/ Royal Conservatory and Trinity College is a lovely wooded walk we have used over the years for little informal weddings. Lots of nice trees, and a little paved nook or two to stand quietly in a circle.  Yes, people are always passing by, and you have to watch for the music camp children running around for recess (quite busy now in July, several camps - best at 5pm), and sometimes there are sports events at Trinity field, but it's a public space and you can't get/don't need a permit for 4 or 5 people to stand under a tree for 20 minutes.
Philosophers Walk 
They have finished the law school library addition, so that area is now accessible, (tho the trees are just saplings), but now they've wrapped the ROM in insulation.   So it will be a while till the north end is open again. The path is still there, and the little amphitheatre behind the music building, so go and investigate if you're thinking of a wedding here.

NOTE: You MUST get a PERMIT for the main UofT campus, by Hart House, so don't even try holding an informal wedding or anything resembling a wedding photoshoot, or the security staff will stop you. Alternatives nearby are Queens Park (if there isn't a fair or expo), or some of the little Annex parkettes.  To the west, we had a little wedding in Bickford Park (south of Christie Pitts), under a nice tree, tho we had to compete with Saturday morning soccer! Once again, just 6 people. You can't bring a large group.  Rule of thumb: Over a DOZEN PEOPLE usually requires a permit. Because a dozen is a GROUP.  Write me if you have questions, please.

Trinity Bellwoods
Trinity Bellwoods still works for small groups, and Dufferin grove, tho you should ask the committee for larger groups than 8-ish. In the East, you can take a small group to the bottom of Withrow Park or Riverdale, or some other local small parks.  Don't even think of holding an elopement in the Distillery without a permit, tho. You can work out something with the Brickworks, and have lunch at Cafe Belong. Brickworks will want a permit and a fee for anything other than a small 'standing around-doesn't-look like a wedding' group. Be aware.
Northwards, there are little parks around Walmer, a nice little memorial park at Avenue Road and St Clair, and we've had little weddings in a few little community parkettes by people's homes.

Allan Gardens
In terms of downtown permits /rentals, (for elopements and slightly bigger groups, 12-30) you can 'rent a garden' inside Allan Gardens, which has recovered nicely from the freeze last winter. Here we are last week. You can also get a permit for the Rose Garden or gazebo at St James Park.  You can also RENT Casa Loma's Conservatory for just yourselves, or a group - same price for both ($$$$$). Be creative, scout your neighbourhood. Condo parks are great, because you can bring a group. Back gardens at restaurants are pretty.  You can get a picnic permit for the Island for a group event, or just wander over and find a spot - or arrange a little wedding at the Rectory Cafe garden, and yummy lunch!

Allan Gardens is great inside, but your permit also covers the grounds and the flowers outside. Here is the flower garden, and the wedding party in front of the greenhouse.
Allan Gardens front garden

Allan Gardens front of greenhouse