Can my (sister, dad, uncle, friend, neighbour) marry us?

We've been asked this a lot more lately.  We also often asked - "Can you just 'sign the papers' to make the wedding legal, while my friend marries us?

The answer is simple.  NO.  It is against the law.

Your friends and family can certainly be involved, and can do many of the NON-legal parts of a wedding.

If your friend is NOT a Registered Marriage Officiant, however, you need a legally registered Marriage Officiant to conduct the legal parts of the wedding ceremony. We cannot just 'sign the papers'.  A wedding is a legally witnessed contract between two parties. The Marriage Officiant must preside over required parts of the actual ceremony.  And the most important part is the VERBAL ceremony, which is what actually marries you.

Here are some choices:

1)  You can have a simple legal wedding ceremony before your family celebration, along with your two witnesses, and save the music and readings (and rings, which are not legally required) for another ceremonial wedding celebration. This is the same concept as having a legal wedding in Ontario before you fly off for a ceremonial resort wedding. It's the same as Prince Charles getting legally married at the Registry Office in the morning, before changing clothes and going to the Cathedral for a wedding blessing after lunch.

2)  You can invite your friend to participate in your wedding, and the legal officiant will say and do the legal bits, and your friend or relative can do the family bits. This takes a little planning, but it works quite well.  Family or friends can welcome guests, offer readings and best wishes, present the rings, and ask everyone to welcome the couple at the end, for example.

Here is the previous post on this topic, with a few more details. We can also send you examples of ceremonies with participation by others.  Happy planning!