If you are planning on tying the knot soon, congratulations and best wishes! Soon, you will become preoccupied with all the details of the wedding – choosing the wedding gown, wedding cake, flowers and decorations, planning the ceremony and reception, laying out invitations, and so much more. But before you start picking out a theme, you should take the following steps to ensure a smooth and worry-free ceremony:
How to get married in Manitoba:
Get a marriage license
Whether you decide to get married through a religious or civil ceremony, you must first get a marriage licence. A marriage licence is issued after you register with the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. You have to get it at least 24 hours before your ceremony date but it is valid for three months.
The marriage licence is a permanent legal document. Make sure that all data supplied when you register are clearly legible, complete, and accurate. Changes to a permanent record later on may be difficult and may require fees.
Requirements for getting a marriage licence:
- Both of you have to be 18 or older. If you are 16 or 17, you will need a Consent to Marriage from your parent/s or guardians/s. The form is available at the Vital Statistics Agency.
- Both of you have to be present when buying a marriage licence.
- You have to be single, divorced, or widowed. If divorced or widowed, you have to present proof (e.g. divorce certificate, death certificate).
- Provide identification (a list can be found here).
Make arrangements with your clergy or commissioner
Set the date of the ceremony with your officiant. Meet with your priest or marriage commissioner and present your licence together with a white self-addressed envelope. If you opted for a religious ceremony, banns may be required. This is the practice of announcing a couple’s intent to marry to the congregation. Each church has specific regulations regarding marriage banns so talk to your priest or pastor about it.
Officiants are entitled to a fee. The priest’s and church fees are determined by the religious group; commissioners usually charge $50 plus reasonable fees for related expenses such as travel.
Did you know that anybody can be a marriage officiant for a friend or family member? If you want, let’s say, a friend or a sibling to officiate your civil wedding, they can apply for a permit with the Vital Statistics Agency. The person should be 18+ years old. There is a $100 fee for marriage commissioner appointment. After applying, a package containing information on wedding ceremonies and the permission certificate will be sent after two to three weeks.
The ceremony and marriage registration form
- Ceremony arrangements
- After the ceremony
Make sure that you and your spouse, your witnesses, and the priest/marriage commissioner sign the Marriage Registration. The priest or marriage commissioner should send the Marriage Registration to the Vital Statistics Agency to officially register your marriage.
- Apply for the Marriage Certificate
This is not issued automatically. You have to apply for it. Fill out a form and submit it to the Vital Statistics Agency. Congratulations and best wishes!
Now you can start planning for the ceremony and reception. According to Manitoba Law, if your marriage is officiated by a marriage commissioner, no particular format is required. You can have a long or short ceremony, with vows or without, as long as both of you declare this:
“I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, A.B., may not be joined in matrimony to C.D.” (and each of the parties shall say to the other) “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, A.B., do take thee, C.D., to be my lawful wedded (wife/husband/spouse)”.
You should also have two credible witnesses present during the ceremony. They would need to write their name as witnesses to the statement of marriage form.
Change of name
You have four choices if you are married or living in a common-law relationship (both options apply to men and women):
- Retain your name.
- Assume your spouse’s or partner’s name.
- Combine your last name with your spouse’s or partner’s last name (with or without a hyphen, and it does not matter which last name you use first).
- Use your spouse’s or partner’s last name and use your current last name as a middle name.
One important step when changing your name is checking with government agencies, program/benefit providers and document issuers about requirements on how to make changes to your records. It will ensure that you won’t have problems when using your IDs (like for example when traveling), claiming benefits, etc., after the wedding. You should do this prior to deciding on the name change.
If you are living common-law and you want to change your last name, you will need to file a declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency. You will need to get a Certification of Election of Surname (fee required).
Article updated as of October, 2018. As this is only a guide, please check with the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency before applying as requirements and fees may change.
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