As I write this, we have just completed the busiest wedding year ever with a shortage of officiants on prime Saturday afternoons, and it looks, from the number of requests I have been receiving, that 2024 will likely be the same.
Remember, the only thing you actually need (other than someone to marry you) is someone to marry you…:) The purpose of this post is to help you find someone (beyond me) to marry you.
This is NOT a recommended list….I’ve NEVER seen ANY of these folks in action! But I do know that they can ALL legally marry you.
(And if you are an officiant and I have missed you, please get in touch and I will add you.)
And please remember, my comments are strictly my own opinion. Use the links to do your own research.
Door #1: Marriage Commissioners
I won’t go into a lot of detail about Marriage Commissioners, since most people are already familiar with them. In my 14+ years of leading weddings, I’ve found that they are either exactly what you want, or exactly what you don’t want.
Here’s the link on the government website.
Also, Vital Statistics posts recent updates about covid and marriage commissioners here.
Door #2: Wedding Officiants
When you think of ministers, you may think of the centuries old traditions of the Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or other religions. But there are actually over 700 registered spiritual and religious groups certified to offer wedding ceremonies in the province of BC. Some do community outreach through Lay Chaplains or Youth Pastors. Some are retired folks. The range is wide, and each group runs on its own. So you can get a broad range of ceremonies. Here are some of the ones that I come across in my travels.
These folks do ceremonies as an outreach/community service of their ministry or as one of a variety of services. If your budget is limited, they can be an alternative to a Marriage Commissioner.
The Unitarians. Well trained, inclusive and broad-minded, each congregation has 2 Lay Chaplains who offer ceremonial services. In Victoria, there are 2: Saanich and James Bay. Amanda Tarling is perhaps the most well-known Lay Chaplain…you can reach her directly here.
World Tree Ministry provides handfastings and wedding ceremonies in the Oceanside area.
Within the Metaphysical community, most officiants provide weddings as part of a full range of services. Check out Reverend Michael Ireland and Rev. Andria Winter in the South Island area. In the Comox Valley, Rev. Sherry Ellis-Bell.
Wedding Ceremony Companies
Most officiants are better at delivering ceremonies than marketing themselves…:) So a few businesses have jumped in to market wedding ceremonies. Most use the terms “personalized” and “customized.”
All Seasons from Ontario has 7 officiants in Victoria. I’ve found that Cecelia Penner (Victoria/Sooke/Metchosin) is quite responsive and very popular. The most affordable option of the 3 companies listed.
Young Hip and Married from Vancouver has Melinda Orlowski and Jordan Shaw in Victoria.
Vancouver Officiant, has a handful of officiants in Victoria, and one in Tofino/Ucluelet, and 2 who cover the lower Gulf Islands.
Wedding Wire contains reviews for most Officiants and Celebrants (but doesn’t like links to their website)
Door #3: Celebrants
Celebrants are ordained officiants with a twist…specifically trained in the art of ceremony. If you want something different or really personal, you will be in good hands with a celebrant. If you have a really good story that wants to be told, if you are blending faiths or cultures, we can do it (we’re Metaphysical Ministers, which includes a broadly spiritual focus). If your family situation is….complicated….we can help smooth out the wrinkles.
Some of us come with extras i.e. our own PA system, a musical accompanist, pre-marital counselling, etc. as part of our service package. Pricing here cuts a pretty wide swath, because of these things, and because we each market individually. In many cases, you will get a “personal/custom” ceremony for the same price or less as the “personalized/customized” provided by wedding ceremony marketing companies. Most of us provide a premium kind of experience that you can’t get elsewhere.
While the mantra “your ceremony your way” is part of the credo, it can really help to work with someone who shares your vibe.
On the south island:
Barbara Parker is a seasoned and gifted storyteller who recently moved from Alberta, so she may have open space.
Linda Nelson is popular with young couples. (link works)
Morgan Brooks offbeat. edgy. pagan, animism, LGBTQ. nature hikes.
Penny Allport. A deeper, more spiritual, profound experience (link works)
Tracy Stoessiger spiritual, paganism. animism. nature. hike in and stand in the rain.
Katie Brennan has just moved from the Comox valley to Saltspring Island and is serving the Cowichan Valley, Victoria, and Gulf Islands.
Sarah Nakatsuka is a Victoria-based therapist/minister who provides marriage preparation along with your ceremony
Jane Good is a wonderful presence who is comfortable with real and organic. Travels everywhere. Also with accompanist.
Ceri Peacey has a pretty great sense of humour, works in the Oceanside area.
James Latour is a stylin’ guy with some of the coolest jackets you’ll ever see. Locals love him! Works the east side of Vancouver Island.
And in the Comox Valley, Jennifer Lee is a lovely storyteller and calming presence.
Deanna Belcarras just moved from New Brunswick so she will likely have openings.
If you have chosen a popular date and are having trouble finding someone, perhaps check out these celebrants, who are either new in their practices or not as visible on social media/in search engines:
South Island: Elaine Stuart. Shannon Linden. Laura Clegg is a former bride who is now on the celebrant path. laura [at] lauraclegg.com or call 250 380 2098
Cowichan Valley: Wendy Wawrysh Gail Peekeekoot, Cath Hamilton
Central Island/Oceanside: Shannon Rosnau, Karen Arends, Colleen Kendall. and Cheryl Pedley does elopements.
Central Island/West Coast: Lianne Fitzpatrick, cell 250-203-1203, email: Fitz [at] Shaw.ca (no website yet)
Courtenay/Campbell River: Carol Elliot, Shafia Jamodien. Lee Andra Jacobs covers the North Gulf Islands and from Nanaimo to Campbell River.
You’ll find reviews for many celebrants and officiants on Wedding Wire (who doesn’t like links to their website)
Door #4: Do it Yourself (sorta)
In some parts of the United States, you can get a friend or relative to marry you with a special one-day pass. It doesn’t happen here in Canada.
But if you’ve booked everything other than the one thing you need to get married (hey it happens), and now you are stuck, consider this option. Use one us legal folks to marry you ahead of time (when we are open), and then ask one of your people to deliver the ceremonial ceremony the day of.
Just a little heads-up that officiants have the chops to make it look easier than it is, the first ceremony you perform is utterly terrifying (so ask someone who is up to the challenge), and many of the ceremonies you can lift off the internet, frankly, are pretty beige…:) (which is perfectly ok if beige is your colour..:)
That said, I write ceremonies that can be delivered by someone with little/no experience and even let them shadow me at the legal ceremony before handing them my script. More on that here. I may be able to help you with that. Or ask your officiant of choice if s/he/they will do the same for you.
I hope you find your best fit! And if you have any questions or feedback, just post below!