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.
SEND AN [ENQUIRY] FORM HERE


See FAQ: HOW TO PLAN YOUR WEDDING: How to get your license, find a location, legal requirements, witnesses, the process of 'signing the papers', or 'registering a wedding' and how to apply for your CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE REGISTRATION. See the Toronto Registry link for information on a MARRIAGE LICENSE and MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE (online application, hours & location, fee, divorced applicants, IDs required, etc.)

Mary is licensed as a Marriage Officiant by the Ontario Humanist Society.
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 written specifically for each couple, which reflect your wishes, your values, and your story. We also provide humanist ceremonies for baby-namings, memorials, and other life events.

Friday

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

QUESTIONS? SEND [ ENQUIRY ] FORM
We provide simple non-religious legal weddings, including elopements and private ceremonies, legal ceremonies for destination weddings (aka 'signings' or 'registration of a marriage'), and simple family-sized 'civil' weddings.
Questions big or small? Send an [Enquiry] form and I'll write back.
See FAQ and  main website for more information.

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

Tuesday

Intimate legal wedding in a downtown condo

What a lovely evening.  Just the couple and their witnesses, and a quiet private wedding.  They are going to celebrate overseas and have another ceremony in the spring ceremony with family.  So, two anniversaries!

Small condo wedding

and then, another one! Also planning a fall wedding, later.

Evening apartment wedding

Wednesday

Toronto Hotel Elopements - cosy private weddings

I'm reposting this article on Winter Weddings, as I'm too busy with winter weddings to put up a new post!  But you can read about winter wedding ideas here

Several couples chose to hold small private weddings and elopements in Toronto hotels this last couple of weeks, specifically, the King Eddy, the Windsor Arms, The Grand Hotel on Jarvis, the Gladstone, and the Templar Hotel on Adelaide. [this month, include the Radisson, Trump, Four Seasons]. It's a nice way to have a special event, and some privacy. The witnesses were mostly friends, family, or in one case, their children.

It's your choice whether to inform the hotel you're holding a wedding.  It can have benefits, or it can add costs.  One couple informed the staff they were getting married, and they got 'upgraded' to a penthouse.  (They also moved the furniture out of the way a bit, scattered some biodegradeable rose petals and brought a guitar along instead of an IPAD). note: the Windsor Hotel has some rooms with guitars - they are, however, mostly out of tune...  Some rooms also have pianos, tho this might be more useful in the sitting room than the bedroom?

 
Windsor Arms Hotel Suite with Piano
Another couple BOOKED a penthouse room, but just said they were 'celebrating an occasion',  A third was so discreet I don't think the hotel ever realized we were holding a small wedding.  Some couples chose to go to dinner afterward (in the hotel, in a couple of cases) or just to the bar for oysters and champagne to celebrate.  Finding ourselves without one witness, one hotel sent up a Concierge, who had a lovely time and even got a little verklempt!

We have held larger family weddings at hotels that cater in-room events, like the Four Seasons and the Plaza and the Trump. They will deliver drinks, a cake, and at the Four Seasons, even a chef.  But if you just want a quiet romantic elopement, find a nice cozy room with a view, and bring your own champagne. Check Groupon! Get upgraded!
Small Private Wedding at Templar Hotel
Small Private Wedding at King Edward Hotel

"If I get married in another country can I just 'sign the papers' here?" (or "Registering a Marriage")

Here is yet another variation of a query for 'signing the papers', or 'registering a marriage'.  A couple just asked me: they had picked up a proper Ontario marriage license, and then went abroad and had a wedding, and thought we could now just 'sign the papers' certifying their foreign wedding.

Nope.  To get legally married in ONTARIO, and apply for an ONTARIO MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE, you must hold a short verbal legal wedding ceremony in ONTARIO, with a properly licensed Ontario Marriage Officiant, in front of two legal witnesses who hear and see the spoken ceremony.  Then you sign documents, immediately following.

Because what marries you is this legal ceremony, not 'signing the papers'.  It must be a short verbal ceremony, in front of your witnesses, and it MUST include the legal Mandatory Declarations from the Marriage Act.  It's not long, and the legal parts are of course not religious, but they must be followed.

THEN you can 'sign the papers' (Registry, Marriage License, Record of Solemnization), and your officiant will certify and file the papers with the Registrar in Thunder Bay within 48 hours.  After the data has been entered in the records of the Province, you can file for your Certificate of Registration (eg., "Marriage Certificate").

I seem to be discussing this weekly, so here is yet another reminder.
Please see:  Legal Weddings FAQ

Monday

AGO: Frank restaurant for small family weddings

The AGO has many spaces, in additional to the large spaces, like Baille Court. New! You can book the small Grange Library (with High Tea or cocktails), and you can book one end of Frank restaurant - the gallery area by Dundas- for the ceremony, and the adjacent dining area for the dinner. Not sure about numbers, but maybe 40-50 people?  The backdrop will be whatever art is on show - this wedding was very fortunate, with a vibrant background. And they chose Frank because they met a chef school! This pix is by Alicia Thurston -  there's another great pix from this wedding in an earlier post.


Private morning wedding in Casa Loma

Yes, you can actually 'elope' or have a private wedding at Casa Loma! It will be the same fee to rent the Conservatory (where they hold weddings) for a hundred people or for 6 (or 20, or any small group). There will be tourists in the main part of Casa Loma, but you can have the conservatory to yourself for an hour.  These weddings are normally in the morning (light is good!) and then you can take photos in the fun parts of the castle, and also in the gardens.  This couple is from Quebec, and they just liked getting married in a Castle.

Casa Loma Elopement

Thursday

Romantic winter elopement - Hilton Hotel by the fireplace

We had planned an outdoor ceremony - perhaps on the waterfront, or on the ferry, or even on the island.  Then we thought about Grange Park by the Bell Tower, or even the grounds of Osgoode Hall.  But the weather turned nasty - so we asked the downtown Hilton if they had a room we could use.  They kindly said that they would open the tower lounge just for us, for a short private wedding.  Hurrah!


and after the wedding, the view...


Evening wedding at Le Select - ceremony, drinks and dinner!

This was a tremendously lovely wedding at Le Select Bistro, down on Wellington. A marvellous couple, and we had the best time! And of course, the staff is great, and the food is marvellous...  Great for a group of 25-50 people, for a wedding and dinner.


Monday

Small legal wedding behind Trinity College - happy and informal

A very lovely couple who are going abroad were looking for a small legal wedding somewhere around the University.   You can't do this many places, as you need a permit (esp near Hart House).  But if you don't  SEEM like a 'wedding', and you don't bother people, and there's just 4 of you, it's possible to find a little nook and be discreet.  Here's the 5 of us, looking very happy indeed, on the hill behind Trinity College - the new couple are in the middle, witnesses surrounding them. 

At the same time as we finished filling out the papers, a large wedding party marched up the path, bridesmaids in more ruffles and platform shoes than I've seen in ages.  It was quite a fun contrast - both couples very happy, and a beautiful fall day, and cheer all around.  I don't think the fancy wedding realized what we were doing, but the couple who were eloping were tickled by the other entourage!