Understanding the Ceremony Structure

Ready to Learn?

Have you thought about whether the groom will walk down the aisle to seat his parents or will he be already standing up at the front along with the groomsmen? Do you know how many songs you need for the entire ceremony?

First Things First.

You will need to obtain a marriage license to get married in Ontario. To obtain your marriage license it must be within the 90 day period of your wedding date. The marriage license can be picked up in person in any city in Ontario. It takes roughly 20 to 45 minutes to pickup the marriage license in person. A single partner can complete this process, granted that he/she has completed marriage license application and two pieces of photo I.D for both applicants.


Marriage License Application

This PDF application form may be typed out on the computer or written. Click to Open.

Two Photo I.D each

I.D Requirements

Each person applying for the marriage license must bring 2 pieces of acceptable government-issued identification (ID) from the list below.

  • Identification must be valid and original (we will not accept photocopies or scanned images/documents)
  • Identification must provide your legal name and date of birth
  • Your first and last names must match on the two pieces of ID that are presenting.
  • To have your middle name(s) included on your marriage license it must also appear on both pieces of ID.
  • ID on the list can be from any country, as long as it is government issued.
  • If the ID is not in English, a written translation from a certified translator is required.
  • Health cards and S.I.N. cards will not be accepted.


  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Driver’s Licence
  • Ontario Photo Card (Purple photo ID card)
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship (Canadian Citizenship Card)
  • Canadian Government Refugee Travel Document
  • Conditional Release Identification Card
  • United States Green Card
  • Native Status Card
  • Record of Immigration Landing
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residency
  • Permanent Residency Card
  • Citizenship Card
  • Identity Card
  • Nexus Card
  • Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC)
  • Possession & Acquisition Licence (PAL)

Source From : https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/venues-facilities-bookings/getting-married/step-1-applying-for-a-marriage-licence/

$120-$170 Depending on City

The price of a marriage license varies from City to City in Ontario. Outside of the city core, prices drop slightly.

20 to 40 minutes

How Long is the Wedding Ceremony?

A wedding ceremony lasts anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. There are many factors to consider to determine the length of the wedding ceremony.

1. The reading and script that will be performed by the officiant.

This part is usually 15 to 30 minutes. The officiant will speak on marriage and guide you through the vows and ring exchange.

2. Family members or friends performing a reading or poem 

This can take place at the very start of the ceremony, before the vows or after the ring exchange. This may add an additional 2 to 3 minutes to your ceremony depending on the number of participants and the length of their reading or poem.

3. Incorporating a Unity Ceremony

A unity ceremony typically takes 2 to 4 minutes to perform and may be performed after the vows and ring exchange. 

4. Incorporating Religious or Cultural Traditions

Incorporating religious and cultural elements into the ceremony can extend the ceremony length to a total of 40 to 45 minutes.

5. Ceremony Entrance Space & Bridal Party Size

Performing a rehearsal before the ceremony will help you pinpoint the total time that it will take for the bridal party and bride to enter the ceremony space. The typical ceremony entrance can take roughly 3 to 5 minutes.

In Summary you should allocate a minimum of 30 minutes for your ceremony. This will give you a comfortable margin should things be running a little late at the start and not leaving you rushing post ceremony.


9 steps to the ceremony

What is the Structure of the Wedding Ceremony?

1. The welcome remarks and introduction of the wedding ceremony

2. The readings on marriage

3. A personal touch and shorty story about the couple

4. Statement of Intention to marry

5. Wedding Vows

6. Ring Exchange

7. The signing of the Marriage Register

8. Final Readings and Closing Remarks

9. Pronouncement and Kiss


 vows typically are 90 seconds

Should I write my own vows and how long are they typically?

Writing vows may be difficult for some and easy for others, It all boils down to your comfort level and your personality types. If you are naturally outgoing and are not shy speaking in front of people and expressing your emotions, I recommend you write your own vows. If you both feel it doesn’t reflect who you are and wouldn’t feel natural for you, then I recommend you repeat traditional vows. Personal vows can range anywhere from 30 to 120 seconds. They may be written in a mix of a story format and promises. Here is a sample of vows that would be repeated after the officiant.

” I promise to always stand by your side as your partner, your love and your best friend. I give you all my trust and all my tomorrows. I promise I will always cherish you and I promise my love for you is forever.”

Be Specific

What Time Should I Put on my Invitations?

I always recommend to couples that they either have specific instructions as to when they expect their family and friends to arrive and be seated. Simply writing on the invitation “Please be seated by.” or ” Ceremony starting sharply at 2 o’clock.” can help ensure your guests arrive at the time you wish to start.

There typically is a grey area when the ceremony will actually start, that is why it recommend to add some details.

If your ceremony will be in a very busy area perhaps in Downtown Toronto, or at a Golf course where there is a really long walk to get to the ceremony space, it is then recommended to put a 15 to 30 prior start time on your invitations. This will help make your wedding day run smoothly without the stress and not having to rush through the ceremony, photo session and cocktail hour.

anyone above age of 18 and English-Fluent

Who can my Witness be during the Marriage License Signing?

Many couples assume it is only the Maid of Honour and Best man who can sign the marriage license. That is not the case, you can choose anyone to act as your witness for the marriage license signing, as long as they are above the age of 18 and are fluent in English. Many couples choose siblings or some times even friends who are not part of the bridal party. 

Typically the Bestman

Who holds the rings?

If a couple chooses to have a ring bearer walk down the aisle. Depending on his age and maturity, it is quite common that he will be carrying mock type rings. The real rings will already be with the best man or anyone else selected.

Typically the best man is the most common person to be in charge of holding and presenting the rings. The rings may be presented in a box, small pillow, pouch or in the palm of his hand.  The ring exchange happens after the wedding vow exchange.

3 to 5 songs

How many Songs do I need for the wedding ceremony?

You need 4 songs for the wedding ceremony.

1. Bridal Party Entrance

2. Brides Entrance

3. The signing of the Marriage Register

4. The Exit

 If the groom will be walking in with his parents you could have it be part of the first song or have a separate song which will bring you to a total of 5 songs.

Some couples choose to combine the Bridal party and Brides entrance into 1 longer song with a break in the middle to signify that the bride will be entering. This will bring you to a total of 3 songs.

Also, keep in mind to have some music playing in the background before the ceremony is starting and your guests are being seated. 

wait at the front or walk in with parents

How does the Groom Enter the Wedding Ceremony?

The most common thing is to have the Groom already waiting at the front of the ceremony space. Here are some other alternatives:

1. The Groom can walk down the aisle on his own.

2. The Groom can walk in with the Groomsmen, leading them up to the front.

3. The Groom can walk his Mother down and seat her.

4. The Groom can walk in with both parents. 

5. The Groom can be waiting at the front.

There is no best way to do it, it all depends on your comfort level and preference.  

With Father, Both Mother & Father or anyone of her choice. 

How can the Bride enter the Wedding Ceremony?

This is a personal preference that you can discuss with your family. The Bride typically is walked down the aisle by her father. There is also the option of walking down the aisle by both parents. The bride can walk in with whomever she feels has played an important part of her life. Here are some other ways to walk in that I have seen in the past:

1. The bride’s grandparents have traveled from a distant country and she wanted to show her respect, by asking them to walk her down.

2. The bride’s parents were no longer with us so she walked in with the siblings

3. The bride’s best friends were a couple who set her up on a date with her husband now to be. Her best friends walked her down the aisle.

4. The bride can walk down the aisle on her own and meet the groom half way down the aisle. 

in pairs or bridesmaids walk in alone

How does the Bridal Party enter the Wedding Ceremony?

This is a personal preference. Here are some of the ways the Bridal party can walk in. 

1. The Bridal party can walk in pairs and split ways as they reach the front to stand in their designated spots.

2. The groomsmen will already be at the front and the bridesmaids walk in individually to the front. 

Off for photos or cocktails? 

What are your Plans after the Wedding Ceremony?

If you are not seeing each other before the start of the ceremony, then you are most likely going to be heading off to take some photos. If you have had your first look and took photos prior to the ceremony then you will either be taking a few group photos or heading off straight to the cocktail hour.

2 to 4 minutes

How long does the marriage license signing take?

The marriage license portion can take anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes if the paperwork is pre-filled out prior to the start of the ceremony. If the legal documentation is not prefilled prior to the start it may take longer up to 10 to 15 minutes.

That is why I arrive early to the ceremony to review the paperwork and have the marriage register prefilled. Doing so helps us save alit of time during or after the ceremony. It is also recommended to have some music playing in the background, something light and instrumental as were are completing the paperwork.

a unique way to symbolize your love

What is the Unity Ceremony?

A Unity ceremony is a unique way you can symbolize your marriage and your love. It typically involves some sort of presentation during the ceremony. Here is the following unity wedding ceremonies: Love Letter Wine Box Ceremony, Sand Ceremony, Candle Lighting Ceremony, and Tree Planting ceremony.To Learn more about each of these, please click here.

For this the purpose of this explanation let’s take a look at the Sand Ceremony. The unity ceremony typically happens tight after the ring exchange and it takes roughly 2 to 4 minutes to perform. The Bride and Groom will each take a container of sand and pour it into the unity container taking turns.

act as a witness or perform a reading

How can I involve Family & Friends During the Wedding Ceremony?

There are many ways that you can have your family and friends take part during the wedding ceremony. The most common way to do this is to have them come up and perform a reading, poem or prayer.

Some couples choose to have a unity lighting candle ceremony, where they invite their parents to light candles and the whole family all at once light a center candle. You can be creative and come up with many unique ideas. Don’t feel constrained to do what others have done at their ceremony.

are you ok with cellphone use during the ceremony?

Will Your Ceremony be Digital Free?

If you choose to have a digital free ceremony please let me know prior to the ceremony start so that an announcement may be made. Why would one choose to have a digital free wedding ceremony? 

1. It distracts your guests from being present during the ceremony.

2. It doesn’t look good in your wedding photography ( you know… that big ipad sticking up ) 

3. Your Family and Friends can get in the way of the Professional Photographer