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.
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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.

Thursday

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

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

Friday

Looking for Green Space: Spring 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, 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 there is hoarding over the West side of the ROM, and they've wrapped the building for insulation removal.  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 spring 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. We used to use Grange Park behind the AGO, but it is also full of construction. 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 8ish. 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!

Tuesday

Small intimate 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!


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!

Saturday

Storys Building - a classy summer wedding!

Fabulous wedding at the Storys Building, a downtown loft near Roy Thompson Hall.  This (and other great weddings) by Photographer Natasha Bardin


Monday

Hart House Gallery Grill - a lovely and yummy restaurant venue at UofT

Hart House: Gallery Grill
If you like Hart House at the University of Toronto, but are also looking for a great chef and a 'different' ambience than one of the halls, we've had a couple of weddings lately at the Gallery Grill at Hart House.  It's housed in the old Faculty dining room, overlooking the Great Hall.  We're having a wedding in the intimate grill area later this year, in front of the Fireplace, but this event was in the dining room.  You can have a reasonable number of people - 30-60? Just ask them - esp if this is a seated dinner, which is usual.  But it's best with under 50, I'd think. You also have the front bar area for cocktails, and then the dining room for the dinner.  So, about the same size as the Wedding at Frank at the AGO, or at Le Select, or other restaurants we've used.
Here's a link to more pix of this wedding, and the photographer, Nuno, at StrawberryFinch.com

Tuesday

Little private weddings in Dufferin Grove and Christie Pitts

Early morning, Dufferin Grove. They were just firing up the pizza ovens.  Kids, dogs, baseball - and a little wedding under a tree. Pretty happy couple!


And south of Christie Pitts, under another nice tree! Still only 7 people, but a little 'fancier', as in, a white dress, a couple of chairs, and no tennies. The tree is hiding the intense soccer game!
Pix below by Pep Phaxay Photography: http://www.pepphaxay.com/


Friday

Toronto Island Rectory Cafe - lovely wedding, and pix on the boardwalk

What an entirely wonderful lunch wedding on the patio of the Rectory Cafe at Ward's Island - feels like the proper start of summer.  They can handle a big event, but this was just family and friends, so we had our own ceremony area under the tree, and they set up the bar and dining tables for the wedding party and guests.  Wedding ceremony AND reception all in one place, with absolutely wonderful scenery and food.  The weather was BEAUTIFUL, so here we are on the boardwalk! 
Rectory Cafe Wards Island Boardwalk wedding
RectoryCafe Wards Island Boardwalk

Monday

Peter Pan Bistro - small family wedding downtown

Peter Pan Bistro, 2nd Floor
Had a lovely smallish family wedding this weekend for about 40 people on the 2nd floor event space at the Peter Pan Bistro, on Queen West.  Here's the space (we held the ceremony by the fireplace in the front window, then flipped the room for dinner, while they set up a bar in the back space). 
The staff was wonderful, the post-wedding cocktail hour was yummy (crab cakes, cheese straws and fun things). I hadn't eaten at the PPan for 30 years or so, so it was really fun to see it transformed.

Wednesday

CN Tower Skypod: small morning wedding

Here we are, up in the CN Tower SkyPod again!  Two happy grooms, and their sisters and dad - and those that are nervous about heights are holding onto the others! Note: you can't 'book' the CN tower for a wedding (unless you book the BigFancyRestaurant?), and this is in the Skypod, where you really can't fit more than 5 people - and other tourists will be passing around and beside you during the wedding, (usually smiling with delight, tho!), and often they take photos and congratulate you.  But if you want a 'special' elopement, this is certainly an idea. It's best on a WEEKDAY MORNING before school is out.  Tho' you never know when busloads of students will turn up.  But it's certainly fun!



Saturday

Surprise streetcar wedding - bumpy but fun

Here is a quick picture of a streetcar wedding last Sunday. More pictures from the photographer to come soon. 
1) You can rent Toronto streetcars, minimum, 3 hours. They travel on a circuit, and stop briefly at one end for a break/ pictures / etc.  No drinking tho - but some food and live music are nice. We had 50 people, tho there are seats for 46, so some people are always walking around.
2) This was a surprise wedding for the guests (we picked up the musician and me along the way). But you must tell your parents (it might break their hearts not to know) and maybe your BFF.  Then they can be in on the surprise. Note the mum in front holding the flowers.
3)  You should rent a portable amp with a mike.  The TTC mike is only used by the driver.
4)   This is a TRAVELING SHOW.  Toronto natives know how to walk on a moving streetcar. We managed a walk down the aisle with parents, and even a first 'dance' in the back.  We didn't drop the rings, or the bouquet, and the bride is brave in heels.  But I am wearing floor-gripping flats with rubber soles, as I'm holding a few things, including the groom when we went around bends.

TTC Streetcar wedding
This weekend - off to the skypod in the CN tower.  Send me an email if you want to know about either of these things.... 

Small Family Wedding at FRANK, AGO

Here's a nice venue for food and art lovers:  Frank Restaurant at the AGO.  This was a delightful wedding for about 40 people. You could squeeze a few more in, but not too many, if you're going to have a seated meal after.

We had the ceremony in the front gallery on Dundas street, and then moved to the private dining room behind it for the dinner.  The restaurant was still open to other dining guests, but the wedding guests had their own dining room and servers.   Nice art, lovely couple, airy and bright and easy to reach on the streetcar.  Pix is from Alicia Thurston.