Each Canadian territory has its own requirements and terms for a civil marriage ceremony officiant. In British Columbia, a "Justice of the Peace" is called a "Marriage Commissioner." Marriage commissioners are appointed by the Vital Statistics Agency, a branch of the provincial government. They perform the ceremony, collect the required fees, and register the marriage with the agency. Hiring a marriage commissioner in BC is a simple process that will leave you with plenty of time to plan the other details of your special day.
Search for a list of marriage commissioners on the Vital Statistics Agency website by filling out a short online form. You only need to provide the name of the city in which you plan to marry. See the Resources section for more information.
Call several of the marriage commissioners for information on fees, availability on your wedding date and to discuss the wedding ceremony. In 2010, the fees for a wedding were $75 Canadian plus GST (goods and services tax) and transportation costs. If you desire the marriage commissioner to appear at the rehearsal, an additional fee of $25 Canadian and mileage costs will also be charged.
Apply in person at a marriage license issuer for a marriage license. A list of marriage license issuers is available on the Vital Statistics website. The license is non-renewable and good for three months from the date of issue. The fee for a marriage license in 2010 was $100 Canadian and is due at the time of application. Present at least one of the following identification documents: birth certificate, citizenship or residency card or other government recognized identification such as a driver's license or passport. Your identification or documentation for each partner should contain their full legal name, birth date and place of birth. In addition, couples should bring proof of divorce or death of previous spouse (if applicable) and current address information.
Submit your vows to the officiant for review and approval. If you are writing your own vows, share them with your marriage commissioner to make sure they meet the requirements, as civil ceremonies must include certain wording to be legally binding. Vows must be approved no later than a week before the wedding.
If you would like to have a friend or family member perform your ceremony, see if they are eligible to apply to be a marriage commissioner. Details are available on the Vital Statistics Agency website.
Same-sex marriages are legal in British Columbia.
Laws and fees may change without notice, so always call or check the official, government website for the most up-to-date information.
- wedding image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com