Micro weddings became a big thing during the pandemic when celebrations were forced to scale down. But years later, micro weddings are still a popular choice.

At Young Hip & Married we officiate everything from elopements with just the couple and two witnesses to huge weddings with hundreds of guests. We’ve definitely noticed that smaller and more intimate celebrations are appealing to more and more couples.

If you’re getting married and considering a micro wedding in Vancouver, we’ve put together a guide to help you find out if a micro wedding is right for you, plus everything you need to know to plan one.

Then keep reading for examples of some of our favourite micro wedding venues in Vancouver!

What is a micro wedding?

A micro wedding is a smaller wedding, usually with no more than 50 guests. It has all the hallmarks of a regular wedding, but scaled down. The focus is usually on a more intimate and casual celebration.

Micro weddings can be any style you want: From a casual dinner party for 10 or a backyard BBQ for just your immediate family to an elegant banquet or rager of a dance party for 45 close friends.

The only thing all micro weddings have in common is their small size – besides that, you get to make it your own!

Who is a micro wedding for?

Micro weddings are perfect for couples who want to celebrate their love, but not with everyone they’ve ever met. They can be a good choice for a couple who wants a smaller party, more one on one time with guests, and less pomp and circumstance.

Many destination weddings or wedding weekends fit into a micro wedding definition, as usually these guest lists are more limited. Destination and weekend weddings are awesome ways to spend more time with your guests over a few days, rather than just having a single evening together.

Micro weddings are also a great way for couples to save money. While you can definitely go all out on your micro wedding, it will always be cheaper to have fewer guests than more guests.

Find the perfect officiant for your micro wedding.

Book your Micro Wedding Officiant!

Get in touch

Why have a micro wedding in Vancouver?

Vancouver is an excellent place to host your micro wedding because:

1. Vancouver is a natural paradise! From Stanley Park to Kits Beach and Grouse Mountain to Pitt Lake, there is no shortage of beautiful backdrops to get married in front of in Vancouver, BC.

You can make the most of Vancouver’s outdoor beauty with a smaller guest list. You’ll have a much easier time hosting a micro wedding for 15 in Stanley Park than trying to get 150 people to attend.

2. Vancouver has a ton of beautiful micro wedding venues. Both indoors and outdoors, many of Vancouver’s best venues are ideal for 50 or fewer guests.

Some of our favourite spots include the Loft at Earls, Hycroft Manor, Vandusen Garden, Queen Elizabeth Park, Brix & Mortar and Sea to Sky Gondola. Check out more amazing Vancouver wedding venues here.

3. Vancouver can be expensive. Unfortunately, Vancouver is quite a pricy city. If you’re hosting a big wedding here, that means paying a ton for venues, food, drinks, entertainment, decor, etc.

A Vancouver micro wedding will be a lot friendlier on your budget, leaving you room to splurge on what matters most or save your money for non-wedding expenses.

Examples of real micro weddings in Vancouver

Check out examples of real micro weddings in Vancouver at some of our favourite Vancouver micro wedding venues!

Micro wedding checklist & timeline

A micro wedding is a lot like a larger wedding, but just on a smaller scale. Because micro weddings are often more casual and intimate, you can choose to forgo a lot of the frills of a larger wedding – but only if you want to!

Your micro wedding can be low-key and low-budget or it can be sophisticated and luxurious. It’s up to you! Most couples choose a micro wedding because they like the more laidback feel, but there’s no reason why you can’t go luxe for your smaller affair.

With all that being said, here is your basic micro wedding checklist and timeline:

Step 1: Agree that you want to have a micro wedding

Very importantly, the first step of planning a micro wedding is agreeing that you actually want to have one! Sit down with your partner and discuss what you both want out of a wedding. If you’re both happy with a smaller party, continue planning.

Step 2: Decide on your budget and guest list

Once you’re set on a micro wedding, it’s time for the all important tasks of setting a budget and coming up with your guest list. This can be more difficult with a micro wedding since your guest list – and likely your budget – will be smaller.

Check out our tips for how to cut a big guest list if you’re struggling to narrow things down!

Step 3: Find a micro wedding venue and set the date

With your budget and guest list in mind, you now know what kind of venue you’re looking for. Will you be hosting your micro wedding at a chic downtown loft, rural barn, local park or your own backyard? The options for wedding venues are endless!

Need some suggestions for a Vancouver micro wedding? Check out some of our favourite Vancouver venues.

Step 4: Hire your micro wedding vendors

Once you’ve booked your venue and have your date, you’re now ready to hire your vendors. Make sure your vendors are comfortable and experienced with micro weddings so they can help you execute your vision.

Photographers and wedding planners/coordinators are usually the first vendors you’ll want to hire, as they often book up early and can only accommodate one wedding each day. You may also want to hire a florist, videographer, hair and makeup artist, caterer, bartender, decorator, DJ, etc.

And of course, you can’t forget your micro wedding officiant! Good thing we know a few officiants who fit the bill.

Step 5: Plan your ceremony and reception details

With your vendors in place, you can now work together to plan out the timeline and details of your day. What food will you be serving? When will you be getting ready? What music will play during your first dance?

While it’s easy to get caught up in your reception details, don’t forget about your ceremony. Your ceremony is the most important part of the day – the part where you actually get married! Work with your officiant to plan a wedding ceremony that is creative, unique and true to you.

Step 6: Enjoy your micro wedding!

With all of the plans set, the only thing left to do is to enjoy your incredible micro wedding day!

Ready to create a wedding ceremony as unique as you are?

Contact Us


Riana Ang-Canning

Riana has been working with Young Hip & Married since 2017. She is a professional content writer with experience in travel, lifestyle and weddings. Riana not only writes Young Hip & Married blog posts but is also involved with the company's internal communications, social media, copywriting and more. She knows YHM, and the wedding world, inside and out!

Get ready for take off at Fairmont Vancouver Airport with our brand new Runway Elopement package!  

This package is perfect for couples who want to elope in style before taking off on their next adventure – hotel suite, officiant, photographer & dinner included!

Keep reading to learn more about this package, discover what’s included and book your Runway Elopement today!

Bride and groom sitting in front of the bed in a suite at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport ahead of their Young Hip & Married elopement

The Runway Elopement experience

Here’s what a Runway Elopement at Fairmont Vancouver Airport entails:

You’ll check into your 1,250 square foot Jade Suite in the afternoon where you’ll find a welcome amenity and beautiful views awaiting you. Not a bad way to start an elopement, right? 

Once you’re all settled in, it’s time for your intimate ceremony. You’ll say your vows while overlooking the YVR runway and North Shore Mountains. Your Young Hip & Married wedding officiant will lead a short and sweet ceremony, featuring vows you wrote courtesy of our free vow writing course, while your elopement photographer captures every special moment. 

The Jade Suite at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport
The Jade Suite at Fairmont Vancouver Airport

You can choose to keep things intimate – just you, your boo and your Young Hip & Married officiant and photographer – or invite up to 10 loved ones to join you. Don’t worry, your suite has lots of space for everyone!

Prefer to get married outdoors? Let’s hit the beach! If you’d rather have your elopement ceremony outdoors than in your suite, we’ll meet you at nearby Iona Beach Park for a beautiful, waterfront ceremony. You’ll still have exclusive use of the Jade Suite for the day/night of your elopement.

Young Hip & Married elopement at Iona Beach Park
Iona Beach Park, photo by Erica Miller Photography

After your ceremony, celebrate with dinner for two at the Globe@YVR, plus evening canapés thanks to your Fairmont Gold access.

Following a wonderful night in the Jade Suite, you’ll wake up to enjoy a deluxe hot breakfast in the Fairmont Gold Lounge before heading off on your honeymoon or next adventure! 

Champagne glasses on a window sill overlooking the runway at YVR Airport

What the Runway Elopement includes:

Fasten your seatbelt and prepare for takeoff, because this elopement package has just about everything you could dream of!

What’s included: 

  • An intimate “gather and wed” elopement ceremony with an awesome ceremony script provided by your Young Hip & Married officiant (apx 5-10 minutes in length)
  • Performance and facilitation of your ceremony with up to 10 guests and the legal registration of your marriage (of course!)
  • 1 hour of professional photography to capture the moments before, during and after your elopement ceremony
  • 50 fully-retouched high-resolution images displayed in an online gallery within 5 weeks of your wedding date with instant downloads available and a print release of your images
  • 1 night stay at the Jade Suite | Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel 
    • Includes use of the suite for your elopement ceremony
  • 1 night of parking for one vehicle 
  • 1 Chef’s choice welcome amenity
  • Witness provided by Fairmont Vancouver Airport (if required)
  • Complimentary access to Young Hip & Married’s online vow writing course
  • Dinner for two at the Globe@YVR ($300 value)
  • Fairmont Gold access 
    • Includes evening canapés, deluxe hot breakfast & more!

Bedroom suite at Fairmont Vancouver YVR with bride and groom's wedding shoes on the bench in front of the bed

Additional services: (by request)

  • Videography
  • Champagne toast
  • Wedding florals 
  • Mini wedding cake
  • Additional photography time

Price: Starting at $3,147+ GST

Young Hip & Married elopement couple kissing at YVR Airport
by Erica Miller Photography

How to book your Runway Elopement at Fairmont Vancouver Airport

To book your Runway Elopement or inquire for more details, fill out our contact form and mention this package when our customer service team gets in touch! They’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have and confirm availability for your desired date.

Whether you’re flying into Vancouver for your destination wedding, tying the knot before you jet off on your dream honeymoon, or just looking for a luxurious venue and all-inclusive package to say your I do’s, we can’t wait to marry you with our Runway Elopement at Fairmont Vancouver Airport!  

À Young Hip & Married, nous sommes fiers d’offrir des cérémonies de mariage bilingues, ou entièrement en français, avec des célébrants francophones qui travaillent à Vancouver et ses environs.

Il est important que vous puissiez marquer cette occasion importante dans la langue la plus proche de vos cœurs, et que vos invités, qui ont souvent traversé de longues distances, puissent suivre et apprécier la cérémonie en français pour pouvoir aussi célébrer l’amour entre vous!

Newlywed couple with their hands on top of one another showing off their wedding rings and matching nail polish
Erica Miller Photography

Les cérémonies de mariage avec Young Hip & Married

La plupart des cérémonies que nous préparons sont des cérémonies civiles, mais nous pouvons aussi préparer des cérémonies religieuses sur demande, ou marquer des clins d’œil à vos religions respectives.

À Young Hip & Married, nous offrons nos cérémonies personnalisées, “à la carte”: vous pouvez choisir les éléments que vous voulez, et vous pouvez même choisir les phrases et les mots particuliers qui vous conviennent.

Nos célébrants prennent le temps d’écouter votre histoire d’amour, pour pouvoir la raconter à vos proches, en ajoutant nos observations de vos forces comme couple, et vos propres pensées au sujet de l’amour et du mariage. Tout cela fera partie de notre discours durant votre cérémonie.

Nous avons des célébrants qui aiment aussi consulter vos amis et membres de vos familles pour incorporer leurs observations des façons dont vous avez, tous les deux, devenir des meilleure versions de vous-mêmes grâce à votre amour.

Wedding officiant Beth marrying a couple in the Lower Mainland
Kaitlin Day Photos

Les vœux de mariage

Si vous voulez rédiger vos propres vœux de mariage, vous pouvez bien le faire. Parfois, les couples bilingues préfèrent mettre un effort supplémentaire en lisant leurs vœux de mariage dans la langue maternelle de leur époux ou épouse.

Ou vous pouvez plutôt utiliser les vœux de mariage que nous avons préparés en avance. Voici un exemple:

“[nom], aujourd’hui je te choisis comme épouse/époux.

Nous créerons un foyer ensemble;

nous ferons partie l’un de l’autre.

Je promets d’aider à créer une vie partagée

que nous pourrons chérir,

inspirant ton amour pour moi,

et le mien pour toi.

Je promets d’être honnête, attentionné(e), et sincère,

de t’aimer comme tu es,

au lieu de t’aimer comme je veux que tu sois, 

et de vieillir à tes côtés

comme ton amour et comme ton meilleur ami(e).”

Vous pouvez aussi échanger les anneaux, peut être en incorporant un échange de promesses, par exemple:

“[nom], promets-tu d’aimer et de respecter [nom], 

de lui partager ta vie et tes aspirations,

de l’accompagner à l’aventure, de le/la soutenir dans les moment difficiles,

et de participer avec elle/lui à construire un foyer

plein d’amour, de joie, de confiance et d’épanouissement?”

(réponse: “Oui, je le veux.”)

newlywed couple holding hands during their wedding ceremony with Young Hip & Married
Erica Miller Photography

Les documents de mariage, les traditions et plus!

Nous vous aiderons à compléter les documents de mariage, n’importe quand vous voulez les signer – soit durant, soit après la cérémonie de mariage.

Parfois, les couples aiment aussi incorporer des traditions ou rituels symboliques, comme le globe des mariés, le réchauffement des alliances, ou la cérémonie de sable. D’autres préfèrent ajouter des textes, des prières, ou des poèmes qui leur sont chers, pour lire durant la cérémonie. Tout est possible avec Young Hip & Married!

Nous aimerions bien travailler avec vous pour créer une cérémonie créative et originale qui reflète votre histoire d’amour, vos valeurs, et vos convictions, dans les langues qui vous conviendront. Contactez-nous aujourd’hui pour discuter des prochaines étapes!

écrit par Beth Carlson-Malena

With over a decade of experience officiating and having married thousands of couples, we like to think of ourselves as ceremony experts! And with hundreds of blog posts under our belts, we know Young Hip & Married is a ceremony resource for so many couples planning their weddings.

And so, we wanted to put all of our best knowledge in one place by creating the Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Planning Checklist!

If you want to plan a wedding ceremony that is meaningful, unique to you and places the importance of your wedding day where it should be (on your marriage!), then you’re going to want to keep reading.

Start your wedding ceremony planning here

Before you dive into the nitty gritty of ceremony planning, start with the basics.

Take a read through our wedding ceremony FAQs for an introduction. Next, you’ll want to check out this timeline for planning your ceremony so you know when to start what tasks.

Your first task? Choosing your wedding venue and wedding date.

young hip and married wedding ceremony
by Jordyn Keller Photography

Decide what type of wedding ceremony you want to have

Just like how every couple is different, so is every wedding ceremony (or at least, they should be – no more cookie cutter ceremonies!).

When it comes to your wedding you can have a huge ceremony with a custom script and all your friends in attendance or a small elopement with just you two, your witnesses and meaningful vows. Wedding vs elopement: find out which ceremony is right for you!

You can get married at home, in your backyard or at Disneyland. You can stream your wedding to guests virtually or have an unplugged ceremony with no phones or cameras. You can just do a legal signing ceremony or skip the paperwork and have a commitment ceremony.

Still not sure? Check out our wedding ceremony packages to find out which one is best for you!

Planning an elopement? Check out our elopement planning resources

An elopement is a beautiful way to start your marriage with an intimate celebration that’s just about you two. If you’ve decided to elope, get started with our elopement ceremony FAQs.

(Still on the fence? Check out the pros and cons of eloping and our quiz: Should you elope?)

If you’re set on eloping but your family isn’t sure, here’s how to get your big family excited about your small wedding. Just because the guest list is small doesn’t mean you can’t share your elopement with your loved ones.

Wondering where to elope? Check out some of our favourite elopement locations!

Victoria elopement with Young Hip & Married
by Jades Photos

Before the ceremony: Plan your wedding rehearsal

If you’re planning a wedding ceremony, you should also be planning a wedding rehearsal (here’s why a rehearsal is so important). A rehearsal answers any outstanding questions and ensures you, your wedding party and your vendors are prepared for the big day.

Get started with our wedding ceremony rehearsal FAQs, timeline and checklist. And don’t forget about planning an awesome rehearsal dinner too!

Before the ceremony: Get your marriage licence

Another thing you’ll need to do before your wedding ceremony – that is if you want to make it official and legal – is obtain your marriage licence. The rules on marriage licences vary by region, so make sure you’re getting the right information for where your ceremony is taking place.

signing marriage license with Young Hip & Married wedding officiant after ceremony
by Dennis Webber Photography

Start and end your ceremony: Processional & recessional guides

Before we plan the meat of your ceremony sandwich, let’s start with the bread – how you’ll be entering and exiting your ceremony, also known as your processional and recessional.

There are lots of processional orders you can follow, as well as unique processional ideas you can incorporate to make your ceremony your own. Remember, this is your wedding, so you get to decide how you enter your ceremony and whether or not you’re given away. You also get to choose what songs you want to walk down the aisle to.

After the pronouncement, your ceremony will end and you’ll recess back up the aisle while an awesome ceremony exit song plays!

PS: Need more help with your ceremony music? Check out our complete ceremony songs list and top wedding ceremony songs!

Find the best wedding officiant for your ceremony

We may be a little biased, but we truly believe a great wedding ceremony comes down to a great wedding officiant. You want to work with someone who is experienced, professional and able to deliver the type of ceremony you want – whether that’s short and sweet, full of jokes, romantic or traditional.

Start with our wedding officiant FAQs so you get a better understanding of what an officiant does. Learn how to find an officiant, how to make sure they’re licensed, and how to find secular or non-denominational officiants, if that’s important to you.

Once you have a shortlist of officiants, you’ll want to know how to choose the best officiant for your ceremony. Check out our do’s and don’ts, plus important questions to ask your officiant to make sure they’re the right fit.

Of course, you’ll also want to know how much your wedding officiant costs (PS: all of our pricing is available on our packages page) and you may even want to know what they’re going to wear on the big day!

Young Hip & Married elopement ceremony at Green Lake with wedding officiant Lauren
above & feature by Erica Miller Photography

Plan your ceremony script

With your wedding officiant in place, the next part of ceremony planning is creating your script (and yes, you do need a ceremony script!). A wedding ceremony script doesn’t just outline what is going to be said by your officiant, it also covers everything happening at your ceremony, such as the ring exchange, vows and first kiss (more on those below!).

If your officiant tells you that they don’t want you to see your ceremony script before the wedding, RUN! This is a major red flag. You should see your script beforehand and be confident that everything that will be said and done at your ceremony reflects your values.

Start with a wedding ceremony outline and take a look at our sample ceremony for inspiration. Make things your own by adding unique elements, keeping things fun and, of course, ensuring your ceremony is inclusive.

Don’t forget to include any housekeeping or special announcements for the start of your ceremony, such as a land acknowledgement.

Write your wedding vows

As you know, we’re big fans of wedding vows. We love them so much we wrote the course on them! Vows truly are the most important part of any ceremony – they’re the promises you’re making to your partner and the foundation of your marriage.

Start off with our ultimate wedding vow guide, learn about the different ways to write and deliver your vows, and get your questions answered with our vows FAQs.

Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself a good writer or very romantic. There are all types of vows: funny vows, modern vows, simple vows, repeating vows and traditional vows. Not sure what vows are right for you? Take our quiz!

If you decide to write your own vows (the best option, in our opinion!), we’ve got you covered. Learn how to write your vows, how long they should be, what to include in them (like knowing statements), and get started with our FREE vow writing guide.

Or if you’re planning a vow renewal, you can check out some of our favourite renewal vow examples.

PS: Vows aren’t just for the couple getting married! You can also include your guests with a community vow.

bride and groom exchanging vows during wedding ceremony at Bloedel Ceremony, young hip and married wedding ceremony planning checklist
by Erica Miller Photography

Ceremony element: Make your declaration of intent

What is a declaration of intent? Good question! A declaration of intent is the part of a ceremony when you declare your intent to marry your partner. Think of this as the “I do” portion when you consent and confirm your decision to get married.

While often confused or combined with vows, we believe choosing your declaration of intent is an important part of your ceremony. Tune in as Officiant Shawn Miller explains more!

Ceremony element: Exchange rings and your first kiss

Two important elements of a wedding ceremony (though not mandatory) are exchanging wedding rings and your first kiss as a married couple.

We trust you’ve got your smooching handled. But just in case, check out everything you need to know about kissing at a wedding!

Then check out our guides for choosing your wedding rings, planning your ring exchange and deciding on the words for your ring statement.

ring exchange between couple at Young Hip & Married wedding ceremony
by Erica Miller Photography

Add to your ceremony: Readings, quotes, prayers, poems and more

There are lots of ways you can add more personality and meaning to your wedding ceremony. One of the best ways to do that is by incorporating words through readings, quotes, prayers, poems or even jokes!

Not only does adding these words bring more importance to your ceremony, but it can also be your chance to give a loved one a position of honour when you ask them to be a reader.

Not sure how to choose a reading? Here are some of our favourite wedding ceremony readings:

If you’re planning a religious ceremony, check out some of our posts on prayers and blessings:

Not into readings or prayers? Check out some other words you may want to add to your ceremony:

wedding ceremony toast, champagne wedding toast at wedding ceremony
by Clint Bargen Photography

How to add unity ceremonies to your wedding day

Another option for your ceremony planning is to add a unity tradition or ritual to your wedding. These rituals symbolize the union of the couple coming together with things like sand pouring, candle lighting, tree planting, etc.

One of the most popular unity ceremonies is a handfasting ceremony. Check out what a handfasting ceremony is and how to include one in your wedding day.

Other popular unity ceremonies are the sand ceremony and the unity candle ceremony. Want something more outside of the box? Check out our list of unity ceremony ideas!

Everything you need to know about your wedding party

Your wedding party – if you choose to have one (yes, it’s okay to skip the wedding party) – are the important people you ask to stand next to you on your wedding day. Unfortunately, these roles of honour that are meant to bring friends closer together can result in a lot of drama and stress if you don’t follow our wedding party rules.

Will you be having kids in your wedding party? If so, we’ve got rules for that too. And remember, they don’t just have to be flower girls and ring bearers – feel free to drop those dated and unnecessarily gendered terms!

Don’t want the same boring old wedding party experience? Check out these unique ideas for your wedding party!

wedding party posing with the newlyweds after wedding ceremony
by The MacLeans

Everything you need to know about wedding guests

Yes, your wedding ceremony is about you two. But you shouldn’t forget your guests!

Happy guests make for a happy wedding. Your guests will be on their best behaviour if you give them what they want and include them in your ceremony.

Some of the most important guests at your wedding ceremony may be your family members. Check out how to involve your parents in your ceremony and what to do if you are part of a blended family. Are you inviting kids to your wedding? Here are 12 fun ways to include the kiddos in your life in your wedding day!

PS: In less fun ceremony planning, here’s our guide for cutting your guest list. Brutal, but necessary.

Prioritize your relationship when planning your wedding

One of our values here at Young Hip & Married is that we care more about your marriage than your wedding – and so should you! The best way to do that is to prioritize your relationship during wedding planning.

Don’t just plan a wedding – plan your marriage! Continue to make time for each other, whether that’s extravagant nights out, at home date nights, or even just watching a TV show together. Make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to the big things in life, like your finances and your families (who may be weighing in on your wedding planning).

If you find yourselves disagreeing about your wedding or already having some wedding regrets, take a time out. Destress from wedding planning, think about what comes next and bring it back to what is actually important: your relationship!

For more on great relationships, check out these marriage tips from our officiants and marriage advice from lifelong couples!

bride and groom in front of tree posing after their ceremony
by John Bello Photography

Plan your wedding ceremony decor and creative elements

While this isn’t a mandatory part of ceremony planning, we wanted to include it in this checklist because we know many couples love getting creative and adding a few extras to their ceremony. Just keep in mind that this is all optional, so don’t stress if you don’t have it at your wedding!

Get inspired with these fun ideas for your wedding ceremony plus our list of creative additions for your ceremony. You can really take things to the next level by leaning into a theme for your wedding ceremony such as a winter wedding, Halloween wedding or nerd wedding!

Other extras you may want to add include wedding ceremony signs and wedding programs.

Phew, there you have it! That’s our complete wedding ceremony planning checklist – everything you could ever want to include in your ceremony, plus our best resources to help you create the ceremony of your dreams.

An amazing ceremony starts with an amazing officiant who understands what you want and can be your partner in designing a ceremony that is right for you two. Meet our team of wedding officiants, check out our ceremony packages and get in touch to book your ceremony with us! 

There’s no shortage of wedding timelines and checklists on the internet. But most of those lists only focus on the reception, leaving the ceremony as an after thought. As officiants, we know how important wedding ceremonies are. So let’s put the focus of your wedding where it should be: on the ceremony that kick starts your awesome marriage!

Below we’re sharing a full timeline – from 18 months out until the day of – for planning your wedding ceremony. Of course, some of the ceremony planning tasks will overlap with your reception; you’ll probably only have to hire one photographer for the full day, for example.

Think of this timeline for planning a wedding ceremony as your guideline for keeping your ceremony – and your marriage – top of mind. You don’t have to do everything on this list and there may be special things you’re doing for your ceremony that our list doesn’t cover.

But it’s a great starting point to help you plan your perfect custom wedding ceremony!

timeline for planning a wedding ceremony, young hip and married ceremony in calgary
by Deanna Rachel Photography

Summary: Timeline for planning a wedding ceremony

  • 12-18 months: Decide on your guest list, budget and overall vibe. Book your ceremony venue. Ask your chosen loved ones to be part of your wedding party.
  • 9-12 months: Book your main vendors (like your photographer). Order your ceremony outfits. Confirm duties and key dates with your wedding party. Make your wedding website.
  • 6-9 months: Book your wedding officiant (that’s us!). Order and send ceremony invitations. Book your florist, and plan your ceremony decor and rentals. Buy your wedding rings.
  • 3-6 months: Work with your officiant to plan and personalize your ceremony. Organize any food, drinks or music you’ll have at your ceremony. Book your wedding rehearsal, your hair and makeup vendors, your transportation to/from the ceremony, and your premarital coaching.
  • 1-3 months: Write your vows! Print programs, ask loved ones to do readings, buy or make signs, and get your marriage licence.
  • Final month: Confirm your final ceremony details and schedule. Print or write the final draft of your vows. Pack anything you need for the ceremony and indulge in some relaxation treatments.
  • Day of your wedding ceremony: Wake up feeling rested, don’t forget to eat and drink, and remember the exciting reason why you’re having a wedding (hint: to marry your favourite person!).
Kristie and Jo-Ann's outdoor summer wedding at Queen Elizabeth Park portrait
by John Bello Photography

12-18 months before your wedding ceremony

The first step to planning a wedding should be a conversation with your partner. Sit down together and discuss the big picture elements. Talk about things like who should be there, what your budget is and the overall vibe/style you want for your day.

Your wedding ceremony should be included in these early conversations too. So many couples spend all of their time planning the reception, leaving their ceremony until the last minute.

By prioritizing your ceremony early in your wedding planning, you make sure you’re putting the focus where it should be: on your marriage!

12-18 months is usually when couples start their venue search and book their wedding venue. You’ll need to decide if you’re having your ceremony and reception at the same venue or two separate venues.

If you’re having a wedding party, now would also be the time to ask your friends/family members if they would like to be in it. Check out our rules for a stress-free wedding party experience so you don’t run into any unnecessary drama!

young hip and married wedding ceremony
by Jordyn Keller Photography

9-12 months before your ceremony

Now that your ceremony venue is booked, it’s time to move onto your main ceremony vendors. These are vendors that can typically only do one wedding per day and book up in advance. They may also be vendors you’ll work with before your wedding day.

For example, a wedding photographer would fit into this category. Photographers generally only do one wedding per day and you may book them ahead of your wedding for an engagement photo shoot. Other ceremony vendors in this category include a videographer and wedding band.

9-12 months out is when many couples decide on their wedding outfits and order them. Depending on how custom your outfit is, you may need to start this process earlier or later. You’ll also need to decide if you’re wearing one outfit for the whole day or if you’ll have separate ceremony and reception looks.

This is also a great time to get your wedding website up and running. Before you direct guests to it, spend some time filling out the details and making sure everything works.

If you’re stumped on how to write your relationship story on your website, get in touch! As officiants who write hundreds of wedding ceremonies every year, we know how to write a personalized love story that sounds like you!

Lastly, make sure to reach out to your wedding party members around this time with any specific ceremony duties you have for them. You’ll also want to confirm key dates with them, such as when you’d like them to be available for outfit shopping or come into town for your wedding weekend.

brides walking down the aisle, wedding ceremony processional
by Ryan Funk Photography

6-9 months before your wedding ceremony

It’s time to book a few more vendors for your wedding ceremony now that you’re 6-9 months out. First up: your wedding officiant!

Take the time to find an officiant who is going to create a ceremony that resonates with who you two are and what you want; not someone who is just doing the legal minimum or adding in religious elements you don’t want.

Check out their ceremony packages, get to know the officiant team so you find someone you relate to, and ask them questions to make sure it’s a good fit.

6-9 months before your ceremony is also a good time to book your florist, ceremony decor and any rentals you may need. Don’t forget about planning for rain, such as renting a tent, if your ceremony will be outdoors. You can also add “buy wedding rings” to your 6-9 month checklist.

Lastly, you’ll want to start thinking about your wedding ceremony invitations. The type of wedding you’re having (e.g. wedding weekend or on a holiday) and whether guests are local or will need to fly in will determine when you need to send your invitations.

You may also choose to send save the dates first and then formal invitations later. Regardless, invites should be decided upon by this time.

wedding ceremony guest behaviour
by Shari & Mike Photographers

3-6 months before your ceremony

We’re getting close to ceremony time! These months are all about planning and organizing so your ceremony goes off without a hitch.

Work with your wedding officiant to plan your ceremony script. Are there ways for you to personalize your ceremony or involve your guests? Are you happy with the order of events? Are you incorporating any songs, readings, prayers or quotes? How will you be processing down the aisle? There are lots of decisions to be made and your experienced officiant can guide you through all of them.

You’ll also want to plan your wedding rehearsal – check out our full rehearsal timeline and checklist – as well as any extra ceremony elements, such as coordinating music with your band/DJ or arranging for food or drinks to be served with your caterer.

3-6 months out is when you’ll want to book your final ceremony vendors. If you’re having your hair or makeup professionally done, now is the time to book that in. You’ll also want to book transportation to and from the ceremony.

Lastly, 3-6 months before your wedding is the perfect time to start premarital coaching. Premarital coaching doesn’t mean your marriage is in trouble or you aren’t sure about your partner – it’s the opposite, actually.

Coaching is for couples who want to talk through tough topics before problems occur. A coach will help you and your partner get on the same page about everything from kids and in-laws to finances and religion so you can start your marriage on the best foot!

wedding ceremony with young hip and married
above & feature by Erica Miller Photography

1-3 months before your wedding ceremony

You’re getting to the home stretch! We like to think of this as “paper time” for your ceremony as many of your tasks in these months have to do with paper.

Now is the perfect time to start writing your vows. If you don’t know where to start, grab our FREE vow writing guide and check out our online vow writing course. You’ll also want to order your vow books, if you plan on using any, so they arrive in time.

If you’ll be having ceremony programs, you’ll want to create and print those. And if you’re having readers at your ceremony, now is a good time to ask your chosen people to be your readers and confirm what they will be reading.

Your final paper tasks: If you’ll be posting any wedding signs at your ceremony, now is the time to buy or make those. This is also a good time to get your marriage licence. Licences are valid for three months in many Canadian provinces, so we recommend picking yours up 1-2 months before your wedding date.

Last but not least, check in with your wedding officiant to finalize any last remaining decisions for your ceremony script and make any changes.

funny wedding vows at vancouver wedding ceremony
by Clint Bargen Photography

The final month before your wedding ceremony

By this point, your ceremony should be in good shape and it’s all about the final little tasks.

Take some time to confirm all of your ceremony details and the schedule with everyone involved – you, your partner, your wedding party and your ceremony vendors. You can also start packing everything you think you’ll need before, during and after the ceremony so it’s ready to go.

If you haven’t already, print out your vows or write your final copy. If you’re worried about forgetting them on the big day, you can send a copy to your officiant to print out for you. You’ll also want to spend some time practicing your wedding vows out loud this month.

You should already have your wedding rings and marriage licence by this point. To help you remember them for your ceremony, we suggest placing your rings on top of your licence and putting both somewhere you can’t miss.

Lastly, if you’re starting to feel some wedding stress, take some time this month to relax. Book a spa day, take a yoga class or just get outside for a few mind-clearing walks.

confetti during wedding ceremony recessional, wedding exit song
by John Bello Photography

Your wedding day!

Congratulations, it’s your wedding day! All of your ceremony prep should be done by this point and all that’s left to do is to get you married.

Try to get a good sleep the night before your ceremony so you wake up well rested. Drink plenty of water and remember to eat so you’re not running on fumes.

Your ceremony is a once in a lifetime experience and we’d hate for you to miss a moment of it because of wed stress. Intentionally take some time before your ceremony to ground yourself. Breathe deep, focus on the present moment and remember what this big day is all about.

Vancouver City Hall wedding elopement venue with young hip and married wedding officiants
by Jelger & Tanja Photographers

Now that you have your complete timeline for planning a wedding ceremony, you may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed with everything you have to do. Deep breaths! Keep in mind that many of the things on this checklist – like ceremony programs and outfit changes – are optional.

To make your wedding day even easier, you’ll want to work with vendors who will keep things stress-free. Our couples always tell us how easy we made the ceremony process, how communicative our team was, and how grateful they were to have an experienced officiant walk them through their ceremony step by step.

If you want an experienced wedding officiant on your team and helping to create your perfect ceremony, get in touch! You can meet our team and check out our ceremony packages to find the right one for you.

One question we get all the time is, “What’s the difference between a wedding and an elopement?” While most couples have an idea of the size, scale and style of ceremony they want, it’s not always clear exactly what type of celebration they’re planning.

So let’s break it down, wedding vs elopement, and find the right ceremony for you!

The difference between a wedding and an elopement

Generally speaking, a wedding is a larger ceremony with a bit more pomp and circumstance, such as an aisle walk and a wedding party. The guest list is larger, the ceremony is longer, and there’s more room for traditions or creative elements.

An elopement, on the other hand, is a scaled-down version of a wedding ceremony. It’s smaller, shorter and without some of the big ceremony elements, like a processional aisle walk. Contrary to its origins, modern day elopements do not have to be secretive or something the couples runs off to do without their parents’ blessing.

Let’s dive into more of the differences between weddings and elopements below so you can plan the ceremony that’s right for you two!

elopement ceremony with Young Hip & Married wedding officiants
by Breezy Photography
wedding ceremony with young hip and married
above & feature by Erica Miller Photography

Wedding vs elopement: Guest list size

A wedding guest list is limited only by the venue capacity. The average wedding ceremony guest list is 75-150 people, though in some cultures and religions it can grow much larger. Basically, your guest list size is only limited by your budget!

By contrast, an elopement has a very small guest list. At its smallest, an elopement can just be the couple getting married, the wedding officiant who marries them, and two witnesses to sign their marriage licence. In our Intimate Elopement package, we allow for up to 10 guests, or up to 20 guests in our Intimate Elopement Plus. 21 or more guests? That’s considered a wedding ceremony in our book!

Wedding vs elopement: Length of ceremony

A wedding ceremony can vary widely in length, but we think the sweet spot is around 20 minutes. Any shorter and your guests may wonder why they bothered attending. Much longer and your guests may get bored. Though keep in mind that if you are adding cultural practices, religious traditions, readings or unity ceremonies, your overall ceremony length will be longer.

Elopement ceremonies are shorter, usually just 5-10 minutes in length. Because of the small guest list and more intimate style, there’s usually no need for a wedding officiant to share the couple’s love story (most people in attendance already know it!) and any extra readings or unity traditions can feel out of place. While short, an elopement ceremony is still very meaningful.

Green Lake elopement in Whistler with Young Hip & Married
by Erica Miller Photography

Wedding vs elopement: Style of ceremony

Wedding ceremonies can take on whatever style you want! You have the freedom to customize your ceremony and ensure it represents you and what’s most important to you. By their nature, wedding ceremonies are more formal. Everyone is usually dressed up nicely and taking part in ceremony traditions, which you’ll want to take seriously. Though that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your wedding ceremony!

Elopements, on the other hand, are more casual. It’s not unusual for couples to elope in jeans and t-shirts in their living room – though you can also elope in your fanciest outfits in a ballroom, on a boat or on a mountaintop. Regardless of outfits or location, elopements still feel more relaxed and intimate based on their size.

We like to say that elopements have a “gather and wed” style. Instead of a formal processional, you’re gathering with a few loved ones in a special spot and saying I do. Often this looks like standing in a circle instead of walking down an aisle with chairs on either side.

Wedding vs elopement: Ceremony elements

While shorter and more casual, an elopement will still have the essential ceremony elements you would expect in any wedding ceremony. You’ll still exchange vows, rings and a first kiss (if you want to), as well as sign your legal marriage licence. Your officiant will still lead the ceremony and share words about your love and marriage. And you can still take beautiful ceremony photos!

A wedding has all of those things, plus more. You can include more elements into your ceremony like readings, prayers, toasts, etc. A wedding also allows for all of the elements that happen before and after a ceremony, like processing down the aisle with your wedding party, having a ceremony musician or DJ, recessing back up the aisle, etc.

Wedding ceremonies are also where you’re more likely to see wedding decor, like arches, chairs, aisle runners, floral displays, etc. By contrast, elopements often don’t have any decor or the decor is quite minimal.

recessional at Vancouver wedding with Young Hip & Married
by Beige Weddings

What do weddings and elopements have in common?

Both weddings and elopements include:

  • A legal ceremony led by a licensed wedding officiant
  • A celebration of your love and commitment
  • Vows, rings and a first kiss
  • The first step to your awesome marriage!

Who is a wedding right for? Who is an elopement right for?

Now that you know the difference between a wedding and an elopement, it’s time to decide which one is right for you.

A wedding ceremony is best for couples who want a larger, longer ceremony experience with all of their loved ones. Weddings are best if you have more than 20 guests and plan to rent and set up a venue space for your ceremony. If you have your heart set on special ceremony elements, like readings, walking down the aisle, and a wedding party, then a full wedding ceremony may be right for you.

Weddings are also great if you want to customize your ceremony and have your officiant write and share your unique love story!

An elopement ceremony is best for couples who want a sweet and short moment to celebrate their love with a small guest list (20 or fewer guests). Eloping couples are okay with no frills; they don’t need to walk down an aisle, set up decor or have any readings. They’re just after an intimate, casual and meaningful moment.

Elopements are also great for couples on a budget. Not only is the elopement ceremony package less expensive than a full wedding ceremony package, but you’ll also save money skipping on decor and other ceremony elements.

difference between a wedding and an elopement ceremony
by Ryan Funk Photography

Bottom line: There is no one right way to get married! Whether you choose to elope, have a huge wedding or do something in the middle, it comes down to what works best for you and how you want to celebrate your commitment to each other. Now that you know the difference between a wedding and an elopement, you can check out all of our wedding and elopement packages here!

So you think you know the rules of weddings? You know what has to be done at wedding, what traditions are mandatory and how ceremonies always go down. But what if some of your truths are just wedding ceremony myths?

Centuries of tradition and countless movies and TV shows depict wedding ceremonies one way, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Below we’re busting 16 wedding ceremony myths to separate fact from fiction and help you plan a ceremony that best represents your love story!

Myth: Wedding ceremonies always start late.

Truth: Wedding ceremonies do start on time!

It’s a common myth that all wedding ceremonies start late. And while it does happen, it’s not something you should count on! Many couples have their wedding day planned down to the minute, so starting 5, 15 or 30 minutes late means less time spent taking photos, enjoying cocktail hour or dancing. Plus many vendors operate on tight schedules and may have multiple weddings on the same day.

Guests are often told to arrive early to wedding ceremonies so a late start doesn’t happen. If an invitation tells you to arrive at 4:30pm for a 5:00pm ceremony, aim for 4:30pm. You don’t want to show up so early that the venue is still setting up but you also don’t want to be late and arrive after the ceremony has already started.

Myth: The couple can’t see each other before the ceremony.

Truth: Many couples prefer to see each other before the ceremony.

Back in the day, couples didn’t see each other until their ceremony or else it was bad luck. This stems from a time when couples didn’t even meet until their wedding day and a veil prevented the groom from seeing the bride’s face and taking off if he thought she was ugly.

Luckily, those days are behind us! Many couples choose to see each other before their wedding ceremony. They may do a first look, revealing their wedding outfits to one another, and then take portraits and wedding party photos before the ceremony. Or, they may just want to spend the day together. If you’re not seeing each other until the ceremony and your ceremony isn’t until 6pm, it can be odd spending the majority of your wedding day without your partner.

Vancouver couple doing the first look on their wedding day on the Vancouver Seawall
by John Bello Photography

Myth: The officiant will ask if anyone objects to the marriage.

Truth: Only in the movies!

We’ve all watched a wedding take place on TV and heard the officiant say, “If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace.” Then a discarded ex stands up from the back row, declares their love for their former partner, and we wonder who the person getting married will pick.

But at real weddings, that’s not quite how it happens. It is not a legal requirement to ask if anyone objects to the marriage and this phrase is not often seen in modern wedding ceremony scripts. It may still be included in some traditional or religious scripts, which is another reason why we say it’s so important to see your ceremony script before your wedding day!

Myth: You don’t want to cry on your wedding day and mess up your photos.

Truth: Let those emotions out!

Some of the best wedding ceremony photos are the ones where the couple is laughing, crying or showing off their real emotions. Those are the meaningful moments you’re going to want your photographer to capture so you can look back on them in the years to come.

If you’re worried that a few emotional tears are going to turn into a full-on sob fest, you can take some precautions. Read your ceremony script ahead of time so you know what to expect, pack tissues or ask someone in your wedding party to hold some for you, and consider reading your vows first before you get too weepy.

Myth: The bride walks down the aisle with her father who gives her away.

Truth: Any member of the couple can enter the ceremony however they want with whomever they want.

A bride, groom or person getting married can enter their wedding ceremony however they want with whomever they want! It’s not a rule that brides must enter accompanied by their fathers. Many modern couples are doing away with this tradition and mixing up the traditional processional.

Looking for an alternative to the father of the bride giving her away? Consider having both partners enter with both of their parents, enter solo or enter together. There are lots of unique processional ideas that can work for any wedding ceremony.

processional, walking down the aisle with parents, wedding ceremony myths
by Erica Miller Photography

Myth: You have to repeat the standard wedding vows about “sickness and health” etc.

Truth: You can say whatever wedding vows you want!

We’ve all heard the traditional wedding vows about loving each other in sickness and health, good times and bad, etc. And while those promises are lovely, they’re not very original. And they’re also not mandatory. You don’t have to repeat the traditional wedding vows you’ve heard at countless past weddings.

You can choose modern wedding vows, funny weddings vows, combine a few different types of vows or (our favourite choice) write your own wedding vows!

Get started with our FREE wedding vow guide to get all of our tips and tricks for writing your own vows. 

Myth: Anyone can go online and get ordained to be your wedding officiant.

Truth: Not everywhere! And you may not want anyone to officiate your wedding.

In the movies we always see couples getting married by a friend who just goes online and gets ordained in a few minutes. But this isn’t always possible in real life. For example, in Canada it’s not possible to get ordained online. You can only be legally married by a licensed wedding officiant or marriage commissioner.

Even if you live in an area where a friend or family member could get ordained online, that’s not always the best choice for your wedding. There’s value in hiring a professional with experience in weddings to lead the most important ceremony of your lives. Not only will a professional officiant offer a reliable service, but you won’t have to depend on your wannabe-stand-up-comedian brother who swears he’ll get a draft of the ceremony to you “real soon.” Say no to friendors (friend+vendor) and yes to professionals!

Myth: You have to exchange rings and kiss to be legally married.

Truth: The rings and kiss have nothing to do with being legally married.

Exchanging rings and having a first kiss are fun extras of a wedding ceremony, but they have nothing to do with being legally married. Many couples include these traditional aspects and enjoy them. Who doesn’t love new jewelry and smooching their partner? But if you don’t want to exchange rings or a first kiss, you can absolutely skip it.

The only things you need for a legal wedding are two unmarried consenting adults, a licensed officiant, two witnesses and a marriage licence. The couple must declare their intent to marry, which all of the parties will attest to when they sign the marriage licence.

rings for weddings, ring exchange, ring statement

Myth: The bride takes the groom’s last name after the wedding.

Truth: Either member of the couple can take, keep or combine their last names.

Hopefully you know that this one is just a myth! Back in the day, there was no question that a wedding would only happen between a bride and a groom and that afterwards, the bride would take the groom’s last name as her own. And while this is still a common practice, it’s not a requirement. Either partner can choose to change their last name or not following their wedding.

If you are interested in changing your last name – whether that means hyphenating, adding or taking your partner’s last name – check out our guides for changing your last name in BC, Ontario and Oregon. And remember: It’s not just brides who can change their last names!

Myth: Brides must wear white.

Truth: Wear whatever you want!

Here’s another wedding ceremony myth we hope you know is completely false. While brides traditionally wear white, there’s no reason why they have to. Whether you’re a bride, groom or other awesome person getting married, you can wear whatever colour, outfit and style makes you feel your most fabulous on your wedding day!

We’ve seen incredible jumpsuits, matching overalls, embroidered jackets, bright pink frocks and so many other kick-ass come down the aisle. We love when a couple embraces their own unique style and has the best time rocking their look on their wedding day!

Myth: You have to have a wedding party to stand next to you during the ceremony.

Truth: Wedding parties are optional and don’t have to stand with you.

Did you know that you don’t have to have a wedding party? It’s true! You can say “no thanks” to organizing a wedding party, coordinating outfits and schedules, buying flowers and gifts, and managing an endless text chain. You can still have pre-wedding events and hang out with your besties on the morning of without having an official wedding party.

But if you do want to have a wedding party (check out our tips to ensure it’s a stress-free wedding party experience!), they don’t have to stand up with you at the ceremony. You can have your party walk down the aisle and take a seat in the front row. That way, they get to watch your ceremony (and not just your back) and your guests can focus on you two.

Fraser River Lodge Vancouver wedding venue with Young Hip & Married
by Aileen Choi Photo

Myth: Your wedding must take place on a Saturday.

Truth: Not anymore!

It used to be that weddings only took place on Saturdays. But as venues filled up and budgets got tighter, couples began holding their weddings on less busy and less expensive Fridays and Sundays. Now, after covid threw out the wedding rule book, weddings are happening every day of the week!

While people are more open to brunch weddings on Sunday or Wednesday afternoon weddings, keep in mind the reality of a weekday wedding. Pros: You might be able to save money with weekday pricing and hire vendors and venues with more weekday availability. Cons: Some guests may not be able to make it or may not be able to party the night away with you if they have to be in the office the next morning.

Myth: The witnesses who sign your marriage licence must be 18+.

Truth: There is no minimum age for witnesses.

As you may know, you need two witnesses to sign your marriage licence in order to be legally married. But a popular wedding ceremony myth is that these witnesses must be over 18 or even over 19, 21 or 25. Not true! There is no minimum age to sign a marriage licence as a witness in BC.

In order to sign, witnesses must be able to comprehend what they are signing and attest that the couple wants to be married. So no, your infant child can’t doodle a signature onto your licence. But this may be a perfect role for your teenage children in your wedding.

Myth: The bride must stand on the left and her family must sit on the left, while the groom and his family are on the right.

Truth: Sit and stand wherever you want!

In traditional Christian weddings, the bride stands on the left (to the officiant’s right) and her family and friends sit on the left side of the ceremony space while the groom stands on the right (to the officiant’s left) and his family and friends sit on the right side. But if you’re not having a traditional or religious wedding, go ahead and mix it up!

As the couple getting married, you can choose to stand on whichever side you prefer. And you can encourage your guests to sit wherever they’d like too. Many couples like to put up a wedding sign with a cute phrase (e.g. “Choose a seat, not a side, we’re one big family once the knot is tied!”) to let guests know they’re free to sit anywhere.

In fact, it’s actually a better idea for the couple’s families to sit on the opposite side of where their loved one is standing. For example, if Alex and Charlie are getting married and Alex stands on the right while Charlie is on the left, it’s best for Alex’s family to sit on the left and Charlie’s family to sit on the right. That way, instead of staring at their loved one’s back, they can see their face!

seating sign at wedding ceremony, pick a seat not a side

Myth: You need wedding ceremony programs.

Truth: Probably not!

Wedding programs, or wedding ceremony programs, are pieces of paper handed out at wedding ceremonies to let people know what’s going to happen, who is involved, etc. They may list the order of ceremony events, the names of everyone in the wedding party, and a welcome message from the couple.

While programs can be a nice touch, they’re not mandatory. If your ceremony is following a typical structure, most people don’t need a program to guide them through it. Your guests won’t be left confused when you start saying your vows, exchanging rings or inviting someone up for a reading. Programs are a good idea, however, if your ceremony requires guest participation or will be a new experience for most guests.

Myth: You need flower girls and ring boys to walk down the aisle.

Truth: You don’t have to have kids in your wedding party if you don’t want to.

It’s true, you don’t have to have kids in your wedding party! You can have only adults in your wedding party or not have a wedding party at all. If you’re not close to any children, it’s completely fine to have a wedding ceremony without them. In fact, you could even have a kid-free wedding!

But if you do have children in your life that you’re close to and want to have kids in your wedding party, you still don’t have to send them down the aisle in the traditional way. For starters, you can do away with the gendered terms “flower girl” and “ring boy” – check out this post for some modern and inclusive alternatives to flower girl and ring boy. You could also choose to have them skip the aisle walk, walk all together, walk but sit in the front row instead of standing up front, or walk but let an adult hold the rings.

The best way to avoid wedding ceremony myths and ensure your wedding ceremony is only filled with the traditions you want is to plan a ceremony that is completely personalized to you. Check out our Custom & Creative Ceremony and get in touch to book your wedding officiant today!


Signing your marriage licence seems pretty straightforward…right? But do you actually know who is supposed to sign it, when and where? How about getting the licence in the first place and what happens once you’ve signed it?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered! As wedding officiants who have married thousands of couples over the years, we know a thing or two about signing your marriage licence. Keep reading for everything you need to know to be legally wed and get ready for one of the most important signatures of your life!

Getting married in BC? Check out our FAQs on BC marriage licences! 

What needs to happen to legally sign a marriage licence?

In order to sign your marriage licence and be legally married you need to have a few things in place. Firstly, you need to have a marriage licence! Check out our posts on how to obtain a marriage licence in BC, Alberta or Ontario. You’ll need to show ID and pay for your licence ahead of your wedding day. You also need to make sure you’re able to get married – you’re above the age of consent and not legally married to anyone else!

Signing your marriage licence on the big day requires you to consent to be joined in marriage. This is usually done by saying your vows and agreeing that you do, in fact, want to enter into marriage with your partner. The licence must then be signed by the proper people – more on that below!

signing your marriage licence with Vancouver wedding officiant Young Hip & Married
by Thea Loo and Jeremiah Reyes
signing your marriage licence, vancouver beach wedding
by Erica Miller Photography

Who signs the marriage licence?

The marriage licence is signed by:

  • The couple getting married
  • The wedding officiant who married them
  • 2 witnesses who observed the wedding ceremony

Each of these people have an important role to play in order to make sure the wedding is legal and the licence can be signed. The couple must both be free to marry and consent to the marriage. The officiant must be licensed and able to marry couples in the region. And the witnesses must, as the name implies, witness the ceremony and confirm that the couple has consented to marry one another.

Don’t have witnesses for your elopement? Young Hip & Married has got you covered!

If you aren’t having guests, you can ask strangers at your elopement location to sign your licence and witness your wedding. This can be a lot of fun as strangers are usually happy to help out and honoured to witness your special moment.

However, this doesn’t work for all elopements. If you’re getting married in a private location or during an off-peak time, it can be hard to find witnesses. The last thing you want to be worried about minutes before your elopement is trying to find a kind stranger to be your witness!

If you’d rather not risk it, you can also add on a witness to your Young Hip & Married ceremony package and we will provide two witnesses for your elopement for a small fee.

For some couples, there’s peace of mind knowing that we will handle everything for their ceremony. They’d rather not have to worry about finding witnesses on the day. For other couples, they’d prefer to keep their elopement private and would rather a Young Hip & Married witness attend than a stranger.

When do we sign our marriage licence?

Most couples choose to sign their marriage licence during or just after their wedding ceremony. If you choose to sign it during the ceremony, you will typically do the signing after the vows and rings. You’ll go off to the side with your officiant and witnesses, sign the licence, and then come back to finish the ceremony. Your officiant will pronounce you married and invite you to kiss!

If you choose to sign your marriage licence after your ceremony, you’ll typically meet your officiant and witnesses just after your recessional back up the aisle. The ceremony will be over, everyone will have clapped and cheered, and you’ll head off to the side or a separate room to sign the paperwork.

It’s up to you whether you want to make signing your marriage licence part of your ceremony or if you’d rather do it separately. You do not have to do the signing in front of your guests if you don’t want to. Speak with your wedding officiant about when in your ceremony script the signing makes the most sense.

sign your marriage licence, young hip and married wedding officiants
by Jesse Holland Photography

Do we have to sign our marriage licence on our wedding day?

Yes and no. You could choose to sign your licence days, weeks, months or even years before or after your big wedding day. This is known as a legal signing or legal ceremony (or as we call it at Young Hip & Married: Signed Sealed Delivered!). This is a short, elopement-style ceremony with your officiant and witnesses. You’ll consent to marriage and sign the paperwork, meaning you are legally married on this day. However, you can still hold your party (and optional non-legal ceremony) anytime you want!

Many couples choose to get legally married before their big wedding day for a variety of reasons, such as needing to be married in order to qualify for medical benefits or wanting to do the legal paperwork at home ahead of a destination wedding abroad. Bonus: If you do decide to get legally married before/after your big wedding day, you’ll have two anniversaries to celebrate!

Where do we sign the licence? Do we need a special wedding sign table?

If you are signing your marriage licence during your wedding ceremony or just after, you may choose to set up a special wedding sign table. These signing tables are usually off to the side in the ceremony space and consist of a table/desk, chair and some decor.

However, you do not have to set up a wedding sign table. We’ve helped couples sign their licences on all sorts of surfaces! You can sign on a clipboard, bench, bar top, folder or even each other’s backs!

groom signing the marriage licence on bride's back
by Sheer Joy Photography

What do we need on our signing table?

If you do decide to set up a wedding sign table or other area for signing, here are some things you’ll need:

  • Your marriage licence (duh!)
  • The officiant’s registry book where they record your marriage details
  • Pens (hint: have a few backup pens too!)
  • A table or surface with enough space to sign the licence
  • A chair or bench if needed
  • (op) Decor for the signing area

Don’t forget to discuss with your wedding officiant and wedding planner how the above items will make it to the signing table (i.e. who is responsible for bringing them to the ceremony and setting them up?). You’ll also want to ensure your officiant has access to the licence afterwards so they can get it sent off and registered.

How do we sign it?

No need to be nervous about signing your marriage licence! Your wedding officiant will have signed hundreds of licences and will guide you through the process. They will show you exactly where you need to sign, write or date. Most of the information on your licence will have been filled in when you obtained it, so you’re simply signing and dating on your wedding day.

signing your marriage licence at your wedding ceremony
by Sambajoy
sign the marriage license with young hip and married wedding officiants
by The Macleans

What happens after signing your marriage licence?

Congratulations, you’ve signed your marriage licence and you are legally married!

Once signing your marriage licence is complete (signed by yourselves, your officiant and your witnesses), your wedding officiant will mail your licence off to Vital Statistics, the agency responsible for recording and registering marriages in Canada. Vital Statistics will then process your licence and create your marriage certificate.

In BC, processing marriage licences takes apx three weeks, though we ask couples to wait 3-6 weeks as mail times can vary. BC Vital Statistics sends out marriage certificates (to the address on your marriage licence) to couples married in BC automatically and free of charge. In other provinces and countries, this process may not be automatic or free; you may have to apply and pay for your marriage certificate.

For more information about the marriage licence and certificate process in BC, check out our BC marriage licence FAQs!

Now that you know everything you need to know about signing your marriage licence, it’s time to find the officiant who can sign it with you! Meet our team of officiants and get in touch to book your ceremony package today!