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What is a Civil Marriage ​Ceremony and where can it take place?

A civil marriage  ceremony contains no religious elements (except for what the couple m​ay add) and can be performed in a venue of your choice , in a public place or in your home. 

Do I need a license to get married?

Yes, you will need to get a marriage license from any registry office in Alberta. Only Alberta marriage licenses are recognized in Alberta for civil wedding ceremonies. Licenses from other provinces are not accepted in Alberta.

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Where can a couple getting married obtain an Alberta Marriage License?

All Alberta registry agents are authorized to issue Marriage Licenses. A list of registry agents is available in the yellow pages under "License & Registry Services" or by accessing the Alberta Registries Internet site at › Registry services › Registry agents

How long is the Marriage License valid?

A Marriage License is valid for three months from the date of application at any Registry in Alberta.

What other documentation is required from the registry?

Upon your visit to the registry of your choice, your application will also include  Registration of Marriage. 

Is it necessary to register a marriage in Alberta when ​it was performed outside Alberta?

No. Alberta does not register any marriages that occur outside Alberta, regardless if the couple is from Alberta or not. The jurisdiction in which the ceremony took place will register the marriage under their jurisdictional laws. The couple must obtain documentation supporting their marriage from that jurisdiction.

Are witnesses required in order to get married?

Yes. Two people, over the age of 18 years must be present at the ceremony and see the ceremony take place. They must sign the register after the couple. These two witnesses may be a part of the guest group in attendance or may stand with the couple. They may be any two adults (either male or female) present at the ceremony.

Do both the partners have to be present at the ceremony to get married?

Yes. The following people MUST be physically in attendance at the ceremony: the two individuals wishing to marry, two witnesses, and the person performing the wedding ceremony. Alberta law does not permit a marriage by proxy. There are absolutely no exceptions.

Do I need wedding rings to get married?

There is no legal requirement for rings to be a part of a civil marriage ceremony and may be omitted. Wedding rings are traditional; there may be one ring or two rings. Some couples give each other a gift instead of rings if they have agreed not to have rings as part of their ceremony.

Can a double wedding ceremony be performed?

Yes. Each couple must provide the required documentation (Registration of Marriage and Marriage License). Both legally required statements MUST be declared individually by all four individuals. Each couple may use the same two witnesses, or each couple may have their own witnesses.

Can religious prayers be a part of the civil marriage ceremony?

The designation of the marriage commissioner is to conduct civil non-religious ceremonies. If couples wish to incorporate prayers or religious readings to the ceremony, they are to designate a family member or close friend to verbalize their specific choice.

Do the couple getting married have to be residents of Alberta? Do they have to be Canadian citizens?

No. There are no residency requirements to get married in Alberta. Anyone can get married in Alberta so long as they secure a valid marriage license and present it to the marriage commissioner.

Is there a dress code for Marriage Commissioners?

No, however, Marriage Commissioners, as representatives of the Government of Alberta, must present themselves in respectable business attire.

How may underage persons (children) be incorporated into the ceremony?

There are many ways that children may be involved with the ceremony. As long as there are two adult (over the age of 18) witnesses present, the options are almost limitless. Discuss your ideas with your officiant who is knowledgeable of the variations available.

Is it required to ask if anyone objects to the marriage?

No. Even though in a traditional ceremony, the question of asking if there is anyone present who objects to the couple being joined in marriage is part of the ceremony, it is not mandatory and may be omitted if you wish.

Are there legal requirements for a Marriage Renewal Ceremony?

No legal requirem​ents are necessary in order to celebrate a marriage renewal.

What are the couples responsibilities when applying for their documentation?

It is imperative that couples check their Registration of Marriage for accuracy in spelling of their names, birth places, and birth dates of all names listed on the form.  Their names MUST correspond exactly to those on their identification provided to the registry clerk at the time of application.

Does the Marriage Commissioner have to be present at the ceremony?

Yes, the Marriage Commissioner does have to be present at the ceremony; otherwise the ceremony is not legal.

Once I have secured a Marriage Commissioner to officiate, will that same person be available on my wedding day?

The answer is yes. As Marriage Commissioners are appointed by the Province of Alberta, as representatives of the government, they take their responsibilities very seriously. If for some reason the Marriage Commissioner is not able to marry you on your chosen date, he/she will first contact you and then proceed to find a suitable replacement.

How far in advance should the services of a Marriage Commissioner be booked?

As soon as possible after you become engaged or decide to marry, determine your wedding date and contact an officiant. It is important that you feel comfortable with the officiant who is performing your ceremony and that you feel that he/she is interested in you as a couple and the vision you have for your wedding.

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