In British Columbia, opposite and same-sex couples who are 19 years or older (with some exceptions) and are currently unmarried can marry. Although it is not difficult to get married in BC, there are a number of crucial steps that must be taken before, during and after the ceremony. Here is a quick checklist:
Apply for a marriage licence
You and your partner need a licence to get married in BC. To apply, one of you has to go in person with primary identification for both individuals (e.g. birth certificate, citizenship card) to a Vital Statistics Agency office. The license is ~$100 and is valid for three months.
Get married in a religious or civil ceremony
You can choose either a religious or civil ceremony. The person performing the ceremony must be licensed under the B.C. Marriage Act.
- Not all religious officials are licensed. They must register with Vital Statistics.
- For civil ceremonies, this person is known as a marriage commissioner. The base fee for a marriage commissioner is $78.75 and they may charge additional fees.
- The marriage ceremony must be held in the presence of at least two witnesses, in addition to the marriage commissioner or religious official.
Where you cannot get married and who cannot marry you
“The City of Vancouver does not provide marriage licences or perform marriage ceremonies any longer”, says Brad, an information rep from City Hall who referred us to the BC Vital Statistics Agency. Nor can you get married inside a courtroom. Similarly, marriages are not performed by judges or judicial justices. As stated above, either a marriage commissioner or religious official conducts the ceremony.
Register the marriage
The marriage commissioner or religious official who conducts the ceremony will help you complete a Marriage Registration Form. This form must be sent, within 48 hours of the ceremony, to the Vital Statistics Agency for registration.
For more information
Details regarding how to get married in BC can be found at: JP Boyd on Family Law, CBA BC’s Dial-A-Law Scripts and BC’s Vital Statistics Agency.
I just want to marry with no ceremony how is this done just signed papers?
Hi Tessie, thank you for reaching out to us. Please note, we can direct you to legal information resources and services but are not able to provide legal advice or answers to specific legal questions. If you’re looking for information on getting married in BC, the government website has the information: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/life-events/marriage. You could also visit People’s Law School’s website: https://dialalaw.peopleslawschool.ca/getting-married/. If you would like to provide any additional information or have more questions, you can contact us by email at librarian[@]courthouselibrary.ca or by phone at 604-660-2841 or toll-free at 1-800-665-2570 (leave a message). Our Information Services team at Courthouse Libraries BC will respond as soon as they can.