COVID-19 information

COVID-19 has impacted wedding ceremonies in 2020 and 2021 in sometimes unpredictable ways. But love conquers all! You can still get married in accordance with Ontario regulations, which generally means smaller gatherings with social distancing.

My first priority is for everyone to feel safe and comfortable as we celebrate your wedding day:

- I am fully vaccinated (both shots as of June 10, 2021)

- I take a rapid antigen covid test twice a week (every Monday and Thursday)

- I provide a sanitized pen for signing the marriage licence

- I wear a mask before and after your ceremony, although I can remove it during your ceremony if you wish

You are welcome to record or live-stream the ceremony to remote attendees. I recommend the services of a professional DJ or videographer with expertise in this area. I can supply a microphone and indoor/outdoor speaker system if you require one.

1. Proof of vaccination requirement

The Ontario government has announced that effective September 22, 2021, proof of vaccination (both doses) is required to access the indoor spaces of banquet halls, convention centres, and food and drink establishments.

This includes wedding venues and restaurants. It does not apply at private dwellings, such as your backyard.

Your guests (age 12 and up) must show their vaccine receipts as well as government-issued identification to enter the venue. Please share this with your guests so they can be prepared. They can print vaccine receipts from https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca

2. Capacity restrictions

Ontario is currently in Step 3 of the "Roadmap to Reopening." There will be a gradual easing of restrictions as vaccinations rise and cases decrease. However, it is impossible to predict what specific rules will be in place on a given date in the future.

Capacity limits are different for wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions. The reception is defined as any gathering associated with the wedding, other than the ceremony itself: party, cocktails, dinner, dance, picnic, barbecue, etc.

Wedding ceremonies: The capacity limit depends on the size of the space. (The larger the space, the more guests can attend.) The rule is there must be enough room for everyone to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from every other guest. This applies at public venues as well as private dwellings, whether indoors or outdoors.

Wedding receptions at a private dwelling: For a wedding reception at home, you can have 25 people indoors or 100 outdoors. If you use a tent, at least two full sides of the tent (50% of the perimeter) must be open to qualify as an "outdoor" area.

Wedding receptions at a public venue (bar, restaurant, nightclub, banquet hall, or event space): The capacity limit depends on the size of the space. Check with your venue to find out what limit applies there.

Masks and other rules at a public venue:

- Guests must wear a mask indoors at all times, except while sitting and eating at their own table

- Guests seated at different tables must be separated from each other by either 2 metres or a plexiglass barrier

- Live performers must be similarly separated from spectators

- In some cases, the capacity limit depends on whether dancing is taking place

- If a tent is used, at least two full sides of the tent must be open to qualify as an outdoor area

- The business operator must screen all guests upon entry and keep a record of all contact information for contact tracing

- Proof of vaccination (2 shots + 14 days) must be shown for access to indoor spaces

- Additional regulations may apply, check with your venue for more details

Please be respectful of the venue staff who have been given the thankless job of enforcing these rules. They aren't trying to get in the way of a wedding being fun; they are meeting a legal obligation. Thank you :)

3. Rescheduling your wedding

If you previously arranged for me to officiate your wedding ceremony but are now considering a change to your wedding date due to covid restrictions, please contact me as soon as you can. I will do my best to be available on your new day.

Rescheduling your wedding may require some flexibility on the ceremony time, because there could be multiple couples who want to reschedule to the same date. I understand this can be challenging and will do my best to fit into everybody's schedules. Make sure to discuss with me before finalizing your new ceremony date and time.


Some couples are choosing to have a smaller legal wedding ceremony in 2021 with immediate family and close friends, to be followed by a larger celebration and symbolic exchange of vows at a one-year anniversary party in 2022. Some are calling it a year-long wedding, others a vow renewal. I would be happy to help you with either one or both of your ceremonies.

4. Marriage licence requirements

A marriage licence is required to get married in Ontario. You must get one before your wedding and bring it with you to your ceremony. Officiants are not allowed to get the marriage licence on your behalf, nor to perform a ceremony without a licence.

Getting a marriage licence does not mean you are married yet. Getting a marriage licence from city hall is only the first step. You become legally married only after your officiant solemnizes your marriage on your wedding day. The steps are:

Step 1: You obtain a marriage licence from city hall up to 90 days before your wedding

Step 2: Officiant performs your wedding ceremony and pronounces you married

Step 3: Officiant signs your marriage licence and registers your marriage

Step 4: You obtain a marriage certificate from ServiceOntario after your wedding (optional)

Step 5 (most important step): Take good care of each other and live happily ever after :)

Please note a marriage licence and marriage certificate are two different documents. A marriage licence is before you get married. A marriage certificate is legal proof of marriage after your wedding. (The licence is required; the certificate is optional.)

5. Marriage licence validity extended

Marriage licences normally expire after 90 days and must be used during that time. However, marriage licences issued during a state of emergency (or in the 3 calendar months preceding the declaration of the state of emergency) have had their expiry dates extended until 2 years after the end of the state of emergency, as long as your name or marital status has not changed during that time:

  • if you got your marriage licence on or before November 30, 2019, it has expired and you must get a new one

  • if you got your marriage licence December 1, 2019 to July 24, 2020, it is still valid until July 24, 2022

  • if you got your marriage licence July 25, 2020 to September 30, 2020, it has expired and you must get a new one

  • if you got your marriage licence October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, it is still valid until February 10, 2023

  • if you got your marriage licence January 1, 2021 to June 4, 2021, it is valid until June 4, 2023

  • if you got your marriage licence on or after June 5, 2021, it is valid for 90 days from the date of issue

6. Where to get a marriage licence during the pandemic

You can get your marriage licence from any city hall in Ontario that is open and providing this service.

It does not have to be from the same city where you live, although some cities are serving only their own residents for now.


Please plan ahead! Delays and temporary closures have been happening throughout the pandemic, often with very little notice. Some city halls are requiring appointments and are booked weeks or months in advance.

 

If your wedding will be in the next 90 days and you are able to get a marriage licence now, get one now.

 

If you are unable to get a marriage licence from your city hall in time for your wedding, you can try a different city hall instead. The marriage licence is still valid for a wedding ceremony to take place anywhere in Ontario.

For last-minute requests, walk-in service is currently available without an appointment in Waterloo and Hamilton.

Currently (last updated October 13, 2021), the availability of marriage licences is as follows:

  • Waterloo City Hall (tel: 519-886-1550)

    • walk-in service available (appointment not required), cost: $149​

  • Region of Waterloo rural areas

    • Townships of Wellesley (St. Clements), Woolwich (Elmira), and Wilmot (Baden) are issuing licences by appointment

  • Guelph City Hall (tel: 519-822-1260, ext. 2117)

    • appointment required, cost: $150

    • one or both you must be a resident of the City of Guelph, County of Wellington, or Dufferin County

  • County of Wellington rural areas

    • call your local township first, if unavailable you can get a marriage licence at Guelph City Hall or the Town of Orangeville

  • Dufferin County rural areas

    • call your local township first, if unavailable you can get a marriage licence at Guelph City Hall or the Town of Orangeville

  • Perth County rural areas

    • call your local township first, if unavailable you can get a marriage licence at Stratford City Hall

  • Brantford City Hall (tel: 519-759-4150)

    • appointment required, cost: $140

    • one or both of you must be a resident of the City of Brantford, County of Brant, or Six Nations of the Grand River

  • County of Brant (Paris) (tel: 519-442-7268)

    • appointment required, cost: $120

    • one or both of you must be a resident of the County of Brant

  • Town of Milton (tel: 905-878-7252, ext. 0)

    • appointment required​, cost: $191

  • City of Hamilton (tel: 905-546-2489)

    • walk-in service (appointment not required)​, cost: $163

City hall information last updated on October 13. This information changes frequently, without notice. Please call city hall before going in.

7. For more information:

 

If you have any questions relating to wedding ceremonies and officiant services, call or text Sassan Sanei (licensed officiant) at 519-501-4523 or email to: grandriverweddings@gmail.com