How to Get Married in BC Without a Ceremony (3 Clear Steps)

All images by Pursell Photography. 
All images by Pursell Photography. 

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Big wedding ceremony not for you? Looking for how to get married in BC without a ceremony? Read this article for the 3 clear steps you need to take! Eloping is an amazing way to get married in British Columbia. You can have your wedding as formal as you want. Consider also hiring a professional photographer (like us) to make your day extra special and guide you along the way.

We get to photograph and witness so many beautiful elopements — from intimate, private ceremonies in couple’s houses to magnificent ceremonies on the cliffs overlooking the mountains. We hope this blog post will inspire you and also provide you with plenty of facts about how to be married in BC without having a traditional large wedding ceremony.

how to get married in bc without a ceremony

See photos from this epic helicopter elopement!

Step 1. Apply for a marriage licence

You will need a marriage license before you can get married in British Columbia. For this, you will have to apply within 3 months or less before your big day. If the 3 months overlap your marriage license will expire.

If either of you has been married before, you need to get a divorce paper that shows your divorce is final before applying for a marriage licence. These include an original or certified true copy of your divorce order, certificate of divorce, or annulment.

To get a marriage license, one of the individuals needs to go in-person to a Marriage License Issuer. Any BC Services office can help you with getting your marriage license.

The BC government’s website has a form that will help you find the closest BC marriage licence issuer. Alternatively, order online directly on the Vital Statistics Agency website. You need to provide a primary government-issued ID with your birth certificate or driver’s licence on hand. The marriage licence will cost one hundred dollars.

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Check out this amazing Alice in Wonderland elopement for inspiration.

Step 2. Hire a commissioner or wedding officiant

You can hold a civil or religious ceremony or have a mix of both. The government-appointed individual follows a standard script that generally is not altered by the officiant. In contrast, an officiant is allowed to tailor the ceremony as they see fit and will get to know you better so they can offer advice on how to tailor your own vows.

The thing with how to get married in BC without a ceremony (or at least a big traditional wedding ceremony) is that you can do it anywhere really–city hall, a park, or somewhere else awesome like the top of a mountain or by a lake (check out our list of the top elopement locations in BC!). 

You can even just stay at home and have the person performing the ceremony come to you. So if you are wondering how to get married in BC without a ceremony, you can choose the level of formality for your elopement. We also have a list of ideas and tips for your BC elopement.

You’ll need at least 2 witnesses to officiate your ceremony. You can use your photographers (we have signed as a witness for lots of elopements!). The person performing the ceremony does not count as a witness.

We usually like working with Young Hip and Married as they perform beautiful custom-tailored wedding ceremonies.

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Check out this amazing boat access waterfall elopement!

Step 3. Register your marriage

If you live in BC, the authorized commissioner or religious official will help you register your marriage with BC Vital Statistics Agency.

Your officiant might give you a document that proves you’re married. The document can be used to prove marriage before registration, so you can receive a certified marriage certificate from the British Columbia government.

Wedding couples will be given a marriage license. This is signed by the couple, two witnesses, and the official marrying them and proves that they are legally married. There is also a registration of marriage form which provides a record of this event and creates a permanent legal public record of the marriage.

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Within two days of the ceremony taking place, your marriage registration form needs to be sent off for certification. The person who conducts your wedding ceremony will typically take care of this for you but if you’re uncertain, ask them if they’ll do it.

Once you’re married then either the Vital Statistics Agency or your celebrant can send you a marriage certificate.

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Conclusion: how to get married in bc without a ceremony

The question of “How to get married in BC without a ceremony” is one that many couples have come across when a large wedding is not for them. We hope the above steps to have a quick and easy marriage without the hassle of a formal ceremony help you. If you would like to find more information on how to elope in British Columbia we have an entire article. If you would like to have some outstanding pictures of your elopement, get in touch for a free consultation.

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