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Tying the Knot in Alberta: Your Legal Roadmap with a Marriage Licence

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Are you planning to say "I do" in Alberta, Canada? Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!


Your wedding day is a beautiful celebration of love, but it's important to remember that it also involves some legal paperwork. In Alberta, ensuring you have the right documents in order is essential for your marriage to be legally recognized. Let's explore the key paperwork and requirements you'll need to address before exchanging your vows in the picturesque landscapes of Alberta.



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Understanding the Alberta Marriage Act:

In Alberta, all marriages are governed by the Alberta Marriage Act. This legislation outlines the legal requirements and procedures for getting married in the province. To ensure your wedding goes smoothly, let's delve into the essential details and requirements.


1. Marriage License Alberta

Before anything else, you'll need a marriage license. This is a crucial document that permits you to get married in Alberta. Remember that there's a waiting period of 24 hours from the time you apply for the license until it's issued, so plan accordingly. The marriage licence is valid for 90 days, giving you ample time to organize your ceremony.


Residency is not a requirement for getting married in Alberta. However, you must obtain an Alberta marriage licence from a Registry Office, and both you and your witnesses must be physically present in the province of Alberta for the ceremony to take place.



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2. Legal Documents for Getting Married in Alberta

In addition to the marriage licence, both you and your partner will need to provide proof of identity. This typically includes government-issued photo identification, such as a passport, driver's license, or birth certificate. Non-Canadian citizens may have additional requirements, so it's wise to check with the Alberta government for specific details.


When getting the marriage licence, you must:

  • apply together at the registry agent office

  • some exceptions may apply, check with a registry agent for details

  • swear/affirm one or more affidavits

  • it is an offence to swear/affirm a false affidavit

  • provide your personal information, and the full names and birth places of your parents (including a parent's maiden name)

When getting a marriage licence, you cannot:

  • be under the influence of a drug or alcohol; this includes being heavily medicated


  • be related to each other as a grandparent, parent, child, sibling or grandchild, by whole blood, half blood or adoption


There is a $40 government fee for the marriage licence.

Registry agents will charge a service fee. Service fees vary among registry agents.


3. Marriage Commissioner Alberta

In Alberta, there are two types of marriage ceremonies: religious and civil, and both hold equal legal validity in the province.


Religious Ceremony: A religious ceremony is conducted by a registered religious clergy member recognized by Vital Statistics to officiate marriages in Alberta, adhering to the customs and traditions of their religious institution.


All the standard requirements for a marriage ceremony are applicable.

An authentic Alberta marriage licence is a mandatory condition.


Civil Ceremony: Civil ceremonies are officiated by a marriage commissioner appointed by the Alberta Government.


All the regular requirements for a marriage ceremony are applicable.

A valid Alberta marriage licence is an essential condition.


To officiate your wedding, you'll need to choose a marriage commissioner. These individuals are authorized by the government to perform legal marriages. You can find a list of licensed marriage commissioners on the Alberta government website. It's a good idea to meet with your chosen commissioner well in advance to discuss your ceremony's details and legal requirements.


It's highly beneficial to have a discussion with your officiant about your ceremony plans. This allows the commissioner to explore a wide range of possibilities, from candle ceremonies and hand-tying rituals to wine box ceremonies and rose exchanges, ensuring your ceremony truly reflects your unique love story.



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If you're looking for some awesome Edmonton wedding commissioners, feel free to reach out to us, we will be happy to provide a list of the "Wedding Officiant Edmonton" we love to use!


4. Wedding Venue Permit Alberta

If you're planning an outdoor wedding at a public location in Alberta, you may need to obtain a wedding venue permit. This is essential to ensure you have the right to hold your ceremony in the chosen spot. Be sure to check the specific requirements for your chosen venue.


5. Witness Requirements for a Wedding in Alberta

Alberta law requires you to have two witnesses present during your wedding ceremony. These individuals must be at least 18 years old and able to understand the ceremony's proceedings. Your marriage commissioner can guide you on the necessary paperwork for your witnesses.


6. Marriage Certificate Application

After your wedding, your marriage commissioner will submit your marriage license for registration. Once registered, you can apply for an official marriage certificate. This document serves as legal proof of your marriage and may be required for various purposes, such as name changes, immigration, or spousal benefits.

They can be ordered in different sizes at an Alberta registry agent office.


7. Changing Your Name After Marriage in Alberta

If you plan to change your name after marriage, you'll need to update your identification documents, such as your driver's license, passport, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies and social insurance number. This process involves additional paperwork, so be sure to notify the appropriate authorities promptly.

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Additionally, don't forget to inform your friends and family about your name change. You can choose to share the news casually on social media or send out formal wedding announcements.


8. Same-Sex Marriage in Alberta

Alberta recognizes and supports same-sex marriages, so LGBTQ+ couples have the same legal rights and requirements as heterosexual couples when it comes to marriage.


9. Common-Law Marriage in Alberta

If you're in a common-law relationship in Alberta, it's important to understand the legal implications. Common-law couples do not require a marriage license or ceremony, but there are specific criteria that must be met for legal recognition. These criteria include living together for a certain period and presenting yourselves as a couple.


10.Destination Wedding. Do you need an Alberta marriage licence?

Your Alberta marriage license holds validity exclusively for ceremonies conducted within Alberta. Navigating the marriage requirements at your chosen destination can sometimes be challenging. This is why many couples choose to have a legal marriage in Alberta before their destination ceremony.


For instance, certain states may not permit same-sex marriages, and some countries may impose residency prerequisites for couples intending to wed.


By legally marrying in Alberta before your departure, you can preempt any unexpected complications and ensure a smooth experience on your special day.


11.Temporary Marriage Commissioner Alberta

Temporary marriage commissioners are appointed for one day to perform a civil (non-religious) marriage ceremony in Alberta. One of your friend or a family member could perform a legal ceremony for you.

The applicant must be 18 years old and a permanent resident of Canada.


Once appointed, Temporary Marriage Commissioners have the privilege of uniting couples in marriage ceremonies, where they guide couples through the legal aspects of the marriage while also creating a memorable and meaningful experience for the newlyweds and their guests. They are responsible for ensuring that the ceremony complies with all legal requirements and is conducted in a respectful and inclusive manner, irrespective of the couples' backgrounds, beliefs, or orientations.


If the date of marriage has been confirmed, file your application as soon as possible to ensure you receive your certificate on time. On average, the processing time for applications received during the summer is 8 to 10 weeks.

Click the link below to complete the form and get further information.

After you applied, your application will be reviewed to ensure all the eligibility requirements are met. If further information is needed, Vital Statistics will contact you.



What's the ideal timeframe for reserving a Marriage Commissioner?

Summer months and weekends are highly sought-after, and available slots tend to disappear quickly. Many couples secure their preferred Commissioner up to a year ahead of time to ensure availability. To avoid any potential disappointment, I recommend reserving your Commissioner as soon as you've determined your date and time. Depending on my schedule, I can accommodate last-minute bookings with as little as 24 hours' notice if necessary.


What can we do if we need our paperwork to be completed urgently?

In case you're in a hurry to have your marriage paperwork processed, there's an option to expedite the registration process through your Marriage Commissioner. This rush registration service can significantly reduce the waiting period, typically cutting it by about two weeks.



While planning your dream wedding in Alberta, don't forget to prioritize the necessary paperwork and legal requirements. Ensuring everything is in order will not only make your ceremony legally valid but also provide peace of mind as you embark on this exciting journey together.

Alberta offers stunning backdrops for your special day, and with the right paperwork in hand, you'll be ready to say "I do" in this beautiful province.


For detailed information and specific requirements, always check the Alberta government's official website or consult with a licensed marriage commissioner.


Happy planning, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding in Alberta!

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