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.

Wednesday

We make house calls! Weddings at home

We frequently perform marriage ceremonies at your apartment or home (or the Party Room of your condo, in the pix to the left, for instance). It's a nice alternative to City Hall, and you can cater your own wedding, arrange your own candles, flowers, even use your own music library.

If your apartment is small, and you've invited family, ask friends and family who have a larger apartment if you can hold the wedding there - it's a nice wedding gift to offer a space for a ceremony.

We've had lovely evening weddings by candlelight, looking out over the City - and mid-morning wedding brunches, and sunset ceremonies on the roof deck - but all are warm and friendly, and a great alternative to rented halls or impersonal court house settings.

Here is a small elopement in my living room - though we didn't have a fire in the fireplace. You can easily arrange a 'parlor wedding', with a few candles, some flowers, and some champagne.

Elopement Weddings at the CN Tower

...must be discreet.  All small weddings in public places are really 'guerilla' weddings, or 'ad hoc' events.  As long as you have checked to see that they are not forbidden, you can always assemble and hold a little 10 minute private wedding in a public space - esp. if it's just 5 people:  the officiant, the couple, and two witnesses.  Avoid big wedding dresses, and other flashy items, do NOT set up video equipment to impede other tourists or bystanders, and simply assemble and hold the wedding.  Think ''engagement" or "proposal" scenario.  If you are interested in a bigger, flashier event, you're really going to have to consider renting the space or asking for a permit (which will probably not be granted, as security is always concerned about public access).

So - whether it's a quick duck-in to the pretty grounds at Osgoode, or a discreet event by the Botanical garden at High Park - or the CN tower, remember this is a not a formal event, unless you do the expensive paperwork. Plan accordingly!

Friday

FAQ: How to have a small private wedding in Toronto, Ontario

First Things First:

Find your partner, propose, rinse and repeat.  Promise to love and support each other through thick and thin, congratulate yourselves, and enjoy the happiness of your decision.

Practical steps:

1)  Witnesses:  You need two witnesses over the age of 18.  So ask friends and family if they will help, or ask your officiant to assist in finding legal witnesses for you.  Some couples hire a photographer to record their elopement, and the photographer can act as one of the witnesses. It's important to secure the witnesses as soon as possible, as their presence is legally required.

2)  City Hall, or Private Ceremony?  If using City Hall in any of the boroughs, investigate the booking, the costs, hours, and the protocols.  The City of Toronto uses a private wedding firm and they provides a room and the officiant; the other boroughs rent you the chamber and you must find your own officiant.  Remember that you usually have only 30 minutes in the chamber for the ceremony/ signing/ celebrating, so plan accordingly. 

3)  Officiant:  If you've decided to be married privately, you need to find a legally registered Marriage Officiant, licensed by the Province to officiate at your wedding. If you are are looking for a non-religious wedding , you can go to a municipal Marriage Commissioner or City Clerk (City Hall wedding), or you can find an officiant through the Ontario Humanist Society or the Humanist Association of Toronto or the Canadian Humanist Association, or most Unitarian churches.  Humanist Officiants are 'ethical' (rather than 'faith-based') clergy, and we conduct wedding ceremonies which are thoughtful, secular (non-religious), personalized to suit each couple, and legally equivalent to a City Hall or 'Civil' wedding.  You can see samples of a Humanist wedding ceremony here.
You can contact me at WeddingsofToronto and I'll happily refer you to licensed officiants in the GTA. 

Contact your Officiant, see if they are available, and discuss your wishes for the ceremony. Humanist and Unitarian officiants are very flexible, and will ensure that the legal requirements of the ceremony are met, while allowing you to personalize the ceremony and reflect your own style, traditions and wishes, from traditional to informal.

4) Location:

The City of Toronto says "You can get married in Ontario just about anywhere you like, provided you have a licensed minister to perform the ceremony and, if you are holding the ceremony in a public space, the proper permit."

This means you can be married in a park, in your apartment, in a loft, garden, hotel, restaurant, the CN tower, in your living room, my living room, the party room of your condo (or your friend's condo), at Ontario Place, The Toronto Islands, in a pub, in a bistro or cafe, at Hart House, Cameron House, McLean House, McKenzie House, Black Creek Farm, Riverdale Farm, your farm (or your garden allotment!) or almost anywhere else you wish. You CAN be married in a boat or an airplane, but you must sign the papers back on land. We have married couples in the skypod at the CN tower, and the skating rink at Nathan Phillips, and other fun locations. You can be married at Starbucks - but, really - you can find somewhere a little more fun.  Be creative, but consider the comfort of your witnesses in a Toronto winter, or under the blazing summer sun at the end of Ashbridges Bay...

Note: the City of Toronto only issues park wedding permits for a certain number of selected parks, and they expect that you will be having a 'big' wedding. So you can gather in a small group for a simple celebration almost anywhere (just like you can go birdwatching or have an impromptu picnic with under 25 people), but if you want the white dress /  bridesmaids / lots of guests / videographer- type of wedding, you will need a permit: contact the City to reserve one of the designated 'wedding' parks. Here are some ideas.

5) Marriage License:
You may obtain a marriage license from any municipality in Ontario, and use the license in Toronto or any other Ontario city. The License fee seems to vary a bit by locality. This fee can be paid by cash, money order, certified cheque, or credit card. The City will not refund marriage license fees once a license has been issued. The license is good for 3 months, and there is no waiting period for marriages; you can obtain the license and be married the same day. Either or both of the persons to be married may obtain the license, with appropriate identification. In Toronto, you may only obtain up a license at;
  • Toronto City Hall
  • Etobicoke Civic Centre
  • North York Civic Centre
  • Scarborough Civic Centre
York and East York Civic Centres have application forms and information only, they do not issue Marriage Licenses.  LOCATION and HOURS

If you have been divorced in Canada, you must provide the original or a court-certified copy of your certificate of divorce, or Decree Absolute. If the marriage was dissolved or annulled in a jurisdiction other than Canada, the applicants must obtain authorization from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations before a marriage license may be issued.

6)  Little details:
Pick up flowers at a deli or corner florist. Grab a pin so you can put one of the flowers on your jacket. 
Buy rings from Kensington Market, local craft stores, or make your own rings. Buy a couple of cupcakes and a split of bubbly. Make sure your camera battery is charged and your card not full. Bring your glasses to sign the license. Bring your ID for the officiant. BRING THE LICENSE.

7)  When you get to your wedding location  - turn off your cell phones - you can tweet afterwards.

8)   GET MARRIED:  Bring your partner, your witnesses, the license and go meet your officiant.  If you are exchanging rings, go ahead and buy them, but rings are not REQUIRED for a legal wedding ceremony. 

9)  Paperwork:  After the ceremony, the Marriage Officiant will sign and certify the Marriage License, along with you and your witnesses.  The Officiant will give you the Record of Solemnization of Marriage as a souvenir document recording the marriage.  They will take the signed license and send it to the Records office in Thunder Bay.  After about 6-10 weeks, you may request a Record of Marriage Registration from the Province, as a final legal proof that your marriage is registered.  You can apply online or by mail.  If you apply by mail, a good practice is to photocopy the Record of Solemnization, and mail a copy along with the order form - this will be a verification of your legal names and is helpful in location your form in the Ministry computer system.

In Toronto, there is only one full Service Ontario location to apply for your Record of Marriage Registration:

Service Ontario
4th Flr Unit 417,
47 Sheppard Avenue East

which can answer any questions about requesting a marriage license, or expediting your request for a certificate.

10)  Celebrate! - and live happily ever after.

Sunday

What to wear to an elopement

Whatever you wish, of course!  Dress down, dress up, bring along better shoes, change out of your woolies in the winter into something slinky, or get married in your fleeces - it's your wedding!
But you may be amused in a couple of decades to see the styles - just like you'd be amused to see my wedding pictures in a miniskirt and helmet hair. 
Jackets and ties and cocktail dresses are not required for a wedding - as an officiant, my only rule is that I insist people take off their sunglasses so we can see if they're looking at each other .  

But why not have fun, dress up a little, and then go and have a super meal - whenever you elope, that day will always be your wedding anniversary, so you'll be celebrating together for many years to come, dressed up or dressed down, so enjoy yourselves and have a little fun on your wedding day.