by Wayde Salmon, WPICC, of Weddings by Wayde
For the past few weeks, I’ve been receiving a disturbing number of potential clients looking for an officiant because they either:
- cannot locate their officiant
- they found out their officiant is not licensed to officiate
I received one such e-mail last night at 10 PM and this prompted me to write this caution.
Please do your due diligence to ensure your officiant is licensed to officiate weddings in your Province; and it’s important that I say Province. An officiant licensed in another Province isn’t automatically licensed in your Province. For example, in Ontario, they need to apply for a temporary license, granting them the ability to perform ONE ceremony on Ontario.
There are many charlatans that are presenting themselves as officiants across the Province. They have websites, WeddingWire pages, and other resource to fool potential clients, and make bargain basement deals on pricing.
There is a popular YouTube video circulating about this exact situation; you can watch it by clicking below. This was also featured in newspaper articles.
The main reason my clients say they went with this phantom officiant was pricing. In my opinion, the decision on your wedding officiant should not be based on the price the officiant is charging; this should be one of the final factors. It’s not to say you cannot shop around however, the more established and reputable officiants are not going to be “cheap”. They’re setting their prices based on their knowledge, experience, time, know-how, and the security/piece of mind they can offer their clients.
When looking for an officiant, you should look for experience, knowledge, comfort, presentation, and your gut feelings; these should all overrule budget.
Using Ontario again, the average cost of a full service ceremony in Ontario is between $300 – $550, depending on location; anything less, be cautious. Prices can be lower if you aren’t doing the full ceremony, i.e. paper signing/eloping; however, for a full service, those prices should be expected.
Trust referrals, look for reviews on sites such as WeddingWire, ask for references; do what you need to ensure you feel comfortable. More than anything happening at your wedding, this is one area where compromising can have dire consequences.
To check if an officiant is licensed Ontario, please visit:
The list is updated quite frequently; last time was May 6th, 2016.
Your local provincial body should have similar lists.
Please confirm with your officiant what their legal name is, as it may not show up. For example, if your officiant goes by Mike Thomas, they may not show up unless you search for Michael Thomas.
So, what if your officiant is not licensed and you’re just finding out? All is not lost, and the sky isn’t falling. You can still have your marriage recognized, but you may have to jump through a few hoops to prove that your wedding was in fact done properly, and that you got married with the thought that your officiant was licensed.
Knowledge is key! Knowledge is of no power unless you put it to use.