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

New Venue for small weddings: Grange library at the AGO

Just had two wonderful winter weddings in the library of the Grange, behind the AGO. The library window is the last one on the left.  I remember taking my children here when the Grange was still a museum. And now the event planning staff is experimenting with small weddings in the wee 19th century library off the 'members lounge'.
Today we had 2 weddings; the first had a formal seated afternoon tea service (delicious! Earl Grey pannacotta!), and the second had a cocktail reception.  There isn't room to serve more than about 15/20 max at the tea tables, and 12 is about right, so a seated tea service is limited. You could have more people for a standing ceremony and a cocktail hour, but not much more than 18-20, perhaps? (Same size as Allan Gardens).
The staff will also accompany your group or the couple for photos in the galleries of the AGO itself.  The 2nd couple had cocktails and toast in the library at 5, then dinner at FRANK, which is also easy access.    Drop me a note if you want to know more! You can contact the event manager directly:  Jennifer_prince@ago.net
 This is a dinner setup, not a tea, and it's for about 24, but you can see the setting.  This is too many for a ceremony, as we need to stand together by the fireplace, so ceremony AND TEA should max out at about 18.

Sunday

Happy vows at Fantasy Farm - between the rain showers

It's been a showery summer for outdoor weddings, and sometimes we  had to judge the wedding time closely to fit inside the storm radar (always have a backup location plan! the couple can stand under umbrellas, but you can't move elderly guests out of the showers in a fast-moving storm).

But in this case, we had a great window between showers, and here we are laughing through the vows, and relieved to be out among the flowers.  And overcast is great for photos!


Saturday

Handsome grooms at the Spoke Club, King Street W

Sunny top deck at the Spoke Club at King/Bathurst - and some handsome grooms (we're looking a bit squinty at the sun - but fortunately, the rain went away!)

(Note: you must be referred by a member of the Spoke Club to book the premises at the members rate)

Monday

Simple wedding environments can be elegant - and fun

Sometimes a simple setting is very nice .. tho this isn't a perspective shot, the groom was certainly taller than the bride and I!  A very happy couple, and a simple, elegant wedding.


Saturday

Interesting Downtown Venues for family-size weddings for 12-80 people

BlogTo has a couple of lists that I (mostly) l like, of interesting, quirky or unusual venues for smaller weddings, meaning from a dozen people to about 80. Of course that is a good size for a restaurant wedding, and that's another list for another time.  (but the Cadillac Lounge is quite fun, and Le Select is perfect for 20-60).  Art Galleries are also good for 30-80.  That's another list, another time...

Here's a recent list of places I have enjoyed -
  • Market Kitchen above St Lawrence Market Great view down King Street
  • Arts and Letters Club (Think Harry Potter + Group of 7) We have had small weddings in the Great Hall for only 60 guest.  Gothic and great, right downtown.
  • Campbell House  (across from Osgoode Hall. Wedding upstairs in the ballroom. They served candlelight dinner in the kitchen for 30)  Incidentally, you can rent Osgoode Hall, too...
  • George Brown, Enoch Turner schoolhouse, Birkbeck buildings (Ontario Heritage Trust). We just had a ceremony at the Birkbeck, which has great acoustics and oak Corinthian columns.
  • Gladstone Hotel, 2nd Floor mezzanine.  You can rent the ballroom, but we've also used the upstairs hall, with the nice balcony, and the couple can come up in the antique elevator :-)
  • 918 Bathurst Community Centre.  Lovely wedding for 80 people.  I think it's a former Zen temple?
  • Hart House.  We usually have small weddings in the non-denominational chapel (max: 30) or in the Debates or Music Room.  But you can ALSO rent the Gallery Grill during the school year.
  • Propeller Coffee House, near Lansdowne on Wade.  Great garage open concept.
  • Hotel Suites and rooms - King Eddy, Hyatt, 4 Seasons, have BIG suites where you can host 20-40 people, and most will have staff serve as bartenders, etc.  Most Hotels will do this, so it's worth checking the rooms, the views, the amenities, of several big hotels.  Boutique hotels usually don't have rooms big enough for 40, but may have meeting rooms, and upstairs patios and lounges, or convertible seminar rooms, like Royal York.
  • Loft 404 - funky, labrinthine, we just had a wedding for about 50, great spaces.
  • Brickworks, Allan Gardens, Riverdale Farm, Todmorden Mills, for green downtown venues. Though you may want inside cover (eg., Allan Gardens) for bad weather. Also of course, there are all the clubhouses and Artscape on the islands, and the lovely Rectory Cafe, but summer weddings on the islands can be a transportation nightmare. Best on weekdays. Rectory is fun in the winter by the fireplace, and is also quick to convert to an inside wedding if the clouds gather.
    You can bring your homebrew/wine to Todmorden, in the art gallery location (hint).

Friday

Alternative destination wedding -- At the airport!

Here is the story of a couple who planned a 'destination' wedding abroad, but in the end, it got too complicated, including trying to get their family overseas.

So, they used the opportunity and the funds they'd saved to go to ... PARIS!

And here is the actual legal wedding, in the departure lounge at Air France!  We had the witnesses, the photographer, and the sunset - and we moved a few chairs, and stood in the corner where we weren't bothering anyone, and -- Voila!  I think the fancier pix from the photographer show the jet behind us.

NOTE, this actually takes a bit of planning, and certainly some flexibility, so please contact me if you're considering this kind of option.. but it was spontaneous fun.

Thursday

Small Hotel Wedding - King Eddy

This was a wonderful wedding in a hotel suite at the King Eddy. The couple had been partners for 34 years!  King Eddy has are a series of rooms (I think that end in 86? you can ask the desk...) which have an alcove in each room, and they make a perfect space for a wedding.  Note the gingers in the group!

King Eddy Private Wedding

Monday

Rainbow wedding on an urban bridge in Rosedale

Memories of Summer! Just got this great picture from a fun wedding last year - can you guess the location?  It's actually Rosedale Bridge, and the couple entered from each end of the pedestrian bridge and we met in the middle and held the wedding over the valley traffic meandering below.  The ladies carried paper umbrellas, too - it was a delightful rainbow of colour - but it's not a good idea if you are afraid of heights.  Also - of course you have to leave space for the normal pedestrians to cross the bridge, so it makes the wedding party stand in a very straight line!  And there were only a dozen guests.  This was a unique event, because the bridge played a part in the couple's courtship.  If you have a larger group, consider a permit for somewhere nice like the gazebo at St James, or Allan Gardens, or another park-like setting.  But this was fun.
Bride and rainbow on Rosedale Valley Bridge
Rosedale Bridge Wedding

Trinity BellWoods - elopement in Squirrel Alley and by the baseball game

Trinity Elopements! Just the five of us - the couple, the officiant, and the 2 witnesses-who-became-photographers.
Here's a June wedding, overlooking the baseball diamond...


And a spring wedding with the CN tower carefully positioned...


The last time we had an early morning wedding in Trinity Bellwoods, we DID see the White Squirrel! - this time, we chose Squirrel Walk for a later afternoon wedding, with just the 2 witnesses, and a lovely bride and groom. I hope they're having a super celebration dinner right about now...


and another - most of these in the North section by Dundas, a little quieter.


Friday

Theatre wedding - view from the stage

Here is an unusual venue - and an unusual view of the ceremony and the guests! I had the privilege to conduct a wedding onstage at the Young People's Theatre for wonderful couple who work in theatre and entertainment.  We are standing on the stage set for "To Kill a Mockingbird", thus the small town fence and the nice trees.  The wedding was held between performances. We even included a little 'play' written specifically for the couple by another friend as part of the readings.  This was a wonderful experience, especially as my children work in theatre as well, so it was a chance for me to see the 'other' side of the stage!
However, as all weddings are at their very heart, this wedding was otherwise traditional (except for our cues to enter 'stage left', and the bride entering down the theatre aisle, etc.) and we signed the license afterwards in the director's office.   Great pictures by Mike Pochwat Photographer

Theatre Wedding - Vows
Theatre Wedding view of stage
Theatre wedding view of houselights from stage
Signing the Marriage Register
(I think you can rent theatre space at the Young Theatre in the Distillery for weddings, as well as a few other small theatres, and rehearsal spaces as well)

Monday

How to 'Register' the legal Paperwork for a separate non-legal wedding ceremony (spiritual, religious or destination wedding)

Many people are planning destination weddings, or they've  been contacting us to 'register' their other wedding, or to 'complete the paperwork' for Ontario.

Remember, a legal wedding requires an actual verbal CEREMONY, not just a 'signing' of documents. FIRST: you must apply for and pick up your LEGAL MARRIAGE LICENSE. Once you have your legal marriage license, you must still hold a short verbal ceremony conducted by a legal officiant properly licensed in Ontario, in front of two witnesses.  The ceremony is brief, and includes statements by both of you that there is no reason you can't be married, and you have to repeat the official government vows to each other. The officiant must 'pronounce' you to be legally married in front of your witnesses.  The 'signing' part comes after this, and is simply recording that this legal ceremony occurred.

A legally licensed officiant will either blend the required legal sections into a traditional ceremony, or conduct this legal part before the other celebration.

After this short ceremony, your licensed officiant will forward your license to the Registrar General to complete the Registration of your change of legal status as a married couple.

Here's our FAQ on this process and the parts of a legal wedding.

Tuesday

Casual Leslieville wedding on a Sunday morning

This great couple have been partners for many happy years, and we had a great morning wedding in their Leslieville sunroom on Sunday morning. Their family were witnesses, and their mom got to make a wonderful homemade German wedding cake. Then - Brunch!

Monday

Year of the Sheep - A farmer on King and Spadina

So -- Here I am, on King and Spadina, outside 2nd Floor Events (in the alley near Brassai).  I had a noon wedding at Le Select, and an evening wedding up the alley.  Sometime in between, a farmer from Arthur, Ontario brought in some hurdles and set up a SHEEP PEN outside the venue and filled it with 5 sheep and a lamb. (The couple were celebrating the Year of the Sheep, and they also had great Lion Dancers for the Reception).

These are Horned Jacobs, one of the oldest Highland breeds.  The rams have 4 horns, the ewes have 2.  In another life, we were sheep farmers in Eastern Ontario, so I know how to hold a lamb :-)  The farmer let me hold this one, and as you can see, I'm EXTREMELY HAPPY.  Now if I only had my border collies, Jess and Nell...   Memories.



and here we are inside, at 2nd Floor events, exchanging rings and vows - in a quite lighthearted mode. Photography by Oink&Coo, a talented couple, whom we have met at other weddings...

Tuesday

Sunday Brunch wedding at Oliver and Bonacini

Sunday brunch is a really nice time for a smaller wedding - less traffic, almost everyone can come, yummy brunch, and a whole day to celebrate. Altho this looks a little dark (due to the shutters behind us) it's actually 11 in the morning, at the downtown O&B Grill. Lovely, lovely wedding.

Monday

"Signing the Papers", "Registering a wedding", "No ceremony", Here are the facts.

There has been a new flurry of new people asking us to "just sign the papers", "we don't want a ceremony, we just want you to 'register' the wedding" so we can get our "marriage certificate'.  "We're having (or we 'had') another wedding, so we need someone to 'register' the marriage, without a ceremony".  "Our (friend/relative/non-licensed  officiant) is going to marry us, can you please come and sign the papers".

I've written about this for 10 years, but I suppose we can't say this too often:  The Marriage Act of Ontario requires a SPECIFIC SPOKEN LEGAL CEREMONY to be held in front of witnesses, conducted by a LICENSED officiant, to make your marriage legal.  It is not the 'signing of papers', it is this specific VERBAL CEREMONY that makes the marriage acceptable by law.  The 'signing' or 'registering' is simply filling out the papers after the ceremony to PROVE to the Government, and the Registrar General, that the proper VERBAL LEGAL CEREMONY happened in front of witnesses.

If you are being married by a properly registered Religious officiant, theywill include the legal parts of the ceremony with your spiritual ceremony.  If your religious or traditional officiant is not licensed by the Registrar General of Ontario to conduct official weddings,  you must find a LICENSED officiant to conduct a legal ceremony, or you are not officially married.

If anyone is offering to just 'sign the papers' for you - that is against the law. Or if anyone offers to simply 'sign the papers' for a non-licensed officiant, that is also illegal.

The required verbal ceremony is short, and follows the requirements of the Marriage Act of Ontario.  You must EACH speak the declarations, saying who you are, and that there is no impediment to your being legally married today, and then you must repeat the legal vows to each other, and the Officiant must properly pronounce you to be married.  The witnesses are signing the 'papers' afterwards, to show that they saw and heard you do and say these things.

You can add lots of other things to a legal ceremony - personal vows, readings, music, rings, cultural ceremonies  - but you CANNOT OMIT the sections required by the Marriage Act.

Please see:
Elements of a Simple Legal Marriage
Can by Sister, Dad, Uncle, Friend Marry US?
Posts about "Signing the Papers", Legal Marriage

Sunday

Winter Park Weddings - happy and cold

We're all very happy, but I've got long underwear on  :-) Note that we went back to the house, in each case, to sign the license and have some celebratory drinks....
Leslieville Playground, December

Trinity Bellwoods, December


Monday

Backyard (patio) private wedding outside an apartment, a very happy event

Here's a lovely 'side' yard wedding (on the patio of their apartment).  A stormy afternoon turned sunny just in time for a wedding.  Got this great pix back from these guys, who had been on a cycle trip from Toronto to Montreal to raise money/awareness for the Toronto People with AIDS foundation. Good exercise, good cause, and 6 days on a bike.  Pretty impressive!