A Gatineau affair: What you need to know about Quebec marriages - Related Image.
Kingsmere in Gatineau Park is an intimate venue in the National Capital Region, complete with Prime Minister MacKenzie King's collection of architectural ruins.
Living in the National Capital Region spoils us into
thinking we’ve got the best of both Gatineau and Ottawa, from museums to bike
paths to jobs. So it’s no surprise that when it comes time to walk down the
aisle, we assume we can do it in either province.
And why wouldn’t we? There
are some stunning venues on the Gatineau side, including former Prime Minister MacKenzie
King’s estate complete with his collection of architectural ruins, Le Nordik Spa
in Chelsea, and even the charming town of Wakefield (especially if you’re into
trains). And don’t forget about the ever-popular Museum
of Civilization with its grandiose views of Parliament across the water.
In fact you CAN get married at your favourite Gatineau spot,
but it takes some forward planning and some important considerations.
In Ontario, all marriages must be licensed by the province before
the bride and groom tie the knot. Municipalities on behalf of the province
ensure that couples meet the marriage requirements (age, relation, divorced,
etc), and the license is good across the province for three months. In Quebec,
however, the licensing system is vastly different.
First of all, do NOT buy your marriage license at a City of
Ottawa client services centre. It won’t work. You MUST register in Quebec.
Furthermore, in Quebec you can’t just get your license and then get hitched the
next day like those hot shots in Ontario. You are required to post your
intentions for 20 days at the location you’ll be married, to allow objections
to come forward.
“There are no exceptions,” said seasoned Ottawa wedding
officiant Alan Viau, who is registered to perform marriages in both provinces.
Also, in Quebec the marriage license is not issued by the
province but by the person performing the marriage. The officiant, whether
religious or civil, is responsible for ensuring that the future spouses are of
legal age, not married and of sound judgment. (S)he’s responsible for making
sure copies of the necessary birth, death and divorce certificates are
collected to be sent to the province after the ceremony. (S)he also makes sure
that the declaration of marriage is posted at the venue for the required 20
days. There’s a $51 fee to file the proper forms after the ceremony.
In both provinces religious officiants are allowed to ask
for further documentation before they agree to marry you. For example, if
you’ve got your eye on a beautiful Catholic church along your favourite bike
route, be prepared to show a baptismal certificate or even a celibacy
certificate before the church approves your request.
Viau’s example: “The Marriage Act has no requirement to be
sober. A religious institution may have an objection to that.”
Officiants are also defined a little differently in Quebec.
If you’ve got a good friend you’d love to do the ceremony, Quebec is the place
to get married, because along with court clerks, mayors, councillors and
clergy, ‘lay people’ can also be authorized by the Ministry of Justice to
perform the ceremony.
“Some couples may wish to have their marriage solemnized by
someone who is significant in their lives, but does not fall into one of the
other categories. A friend may do it as a once in a lifetime arrangement,” Viau
And finally....after reading this if you’d rather skip all
this hoopla and just do it the Ontario way, have an Ontario ceremony in your
living room the night before and then fake it on your wedding day!
For more information about Quebec marriage, click