What is a marriage commissioner?

A marriage commissioner (officiant) is a person with the legal authority to perform marriages within the province of Alberta.

What is the difference between a religious or civil ceremony?

When planning the marriage, a couple may choose a religious or civil ceremony. There are no legal differences between these two types of ceremonies:

  • Religious ceremonies are performed by a religious representative (registered clergy) who is registered with Vital Statistics under the Marriage Act.
  • Civil ceremonies are performed by marriage commissioners who are appointed by the Government of Alberta under the Marriage Act.

Can't we just get married at City Hall?

I suppose you could  get married in the lobby of City Hall but you still need to arrange for a marriage commissioner.  The City of Calgary does not staff marriage commissioners nor provide space.  And depending on the size of your group, security may have something to say.

How far in advance should I book a marriage commissioner?

I recommend you book at least six months in advance so you aren't disappointed.  The summer months are very popular and weekends in particular fill up fast.  Obviously, I will make every effort to accommodate last minute bookings, should my schedule permit.

What are the legal components that must be said during a civil marriage ceremony?

Marriage ceremonies performed by a marriage commissioner require that during the ceremony, in the presence of the marriage commissioner and the two adult witnesses, the couple must declare to each other:

  1. I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, (name), may not be joined in matrimony to (name).
  2. I call upon those persons present to witness that I, (name), do take you, (name), to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse.

Do I need to be an Alberta resident to get married in Alberta?

No. While you do not need to be an Alberta resident to get married in Alberta, you and your witnesses must be physically present.

We are considering a destination wedding. Do we still need an Alberta marriage licence?

Your Alberta marriage licence is only valid for ceremonies in Alberta.  It can be difficult to familiarize yourself with the marriage requirements at your destination, so many couples opt to be legally married in Alberta prior to their destination ceremony.  For example, some states do not allow gay marriage. Likewise, some countries may have residency requirements for couples wishing to marry. A legal marriage in Alberta prior to your departure can help to eliminate any surprises on your big day.

What paperwork needs to be completed prior to the wedding?

An Alberta marriage licence must be provided to the marriage commissioner prior to the commencement of the marriage ceremony. 

What is a marriage licence?

A marriage licence shows that you meet the requirements to get married in Alberta and gives you the legal right to get married any time within three months from the date the licence was issued.  Marriage licences are available from any registry agent in Alberta. The marriage licence is what is signed by the couple during the marriage ceremony. Two witnesses over 18 years of age must also be chosen to sign the marriage licence.

How long is a marriage licence valid?

A marriage licence is valid for three months from the date of issue.

What is a civil marriage statement?

A civil marriage statement is a certificate issued by the marriage commissioner who performed the civil marriage ceremony. This certificate is proof of marriage, but not a legal document. It is required, along with the signed marriage licence, to obtain a marriage certificate following your wedding. 

What is a marriage certificate?

A marriage certificate is a legal document issued by Alberta Vital Statistics recognizing your marriage. Following your wedding ceremony, the completed marriage licence will be submitted to Alberta Vital Statistics by the marriage commissioner. It takes approximately 2-3 weeks for this document to be processed. After this period, the couple may apply for a marriage certificate at any Alberta registry agent office.

Marriage certificates are printed at the Alberta Vital Statistics office in Edmonton and then mailed directly to the your home. You may also request to have the certificate sent directly to the local registries office for pick up.  

What if we are in a rush to have our paperwork completed?

If there is a rush to have your marriage registered, it is possible to deliver the marriage licence in person, reducing the wait time by approximately two weeks. Please see the rate charged for this additional service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Calgary, Alberta Marriage Commissioner