Many couples are facing a dilemma right now and are having to postpone their weddings due to Covid-19 from 2020 to 2021 or even worse postpone it to 2022 due to the lack of prime dates available in 2021. I understand how it feels to look forward to a certain date and then all of sudden have it taken away. Even though my fiancé and I are only postponing our wedding by a few months, I feel for the couples that have decided to wait a whole year when they’ve already been planning their special day for so long. Eloping and have a simpler, more intimate ceremony once city halls reopen may seem like a perfect option instead of waiting right now. And then when it’s safe to gather in large groups again throw a large and extravagant reception.

To elope doesn’t necessarily mean, to run away and get married without telling anyone. In modern times, if the couple wants to elope it may be because they want to forgo a large and traditional wedding. And in today’s world with the situation surrounding the coronavirus, couples may have no other choice. to get married sooner rather than later and have a quiet and simple wedding is better than no wedding at all. And especially now, with governments putting a limit on the number of guests you can have at events due to COVID-19 the smaller the wedding, the better.

There are many benefits to eloping and having a micro wedding, a trend which was expected for 2020 and now will probably become the new norm. Smaller more intimate weddings of 50 people or less will not only be the safer but also the healthier alternative to weddings with 150+ guests. With limitations on how many people are allowed at city hall weddings, you would probably keep this kind of celebration amongst your closet family and friends. You could decide to invite more people to a reception afterwards where you can treat them to an elaborate meal with bespoke touches and personalization.

While many couples are still looking forward to the large celebrations they had originally planned, to elope at city hall is a simple solution for those wanting to get married now rather than wanting to wait for their new date. With postponing my own wedding and considering eloping if our wedding were to get postponed a second time, I’ve been researching how to get civilly married in the City of Toronto and I put together a few things couples should know. 

  1. First Apply for a Marriage License

You must first apply for a marriage license before you get married. You can either apply online or in person at any City Clerk’s Office without an appointment. Both you and your partner will need to bring two pieces of acceptable government issued identification along with your completed application. A marriage license is only valid for 90 days from the date it was issued, so make sure to apply for it 3 months before you wish to get married.

2. The Guest Count

The City of Toronto has 4 Wedding Chambers you can book to have your ceremony. To get married in Toronto’s City Hall Wedding Chambers there is seating available for up to 15 people, For any of the three Civic Centers the guest count varies for each. The North York Civic Center can seat up to 40 people, the Scarborough Civic Centre can seat up to 22 people, and the York Civic Center can seat up to 25 people. The maximum occupancy is not to be exceeded in any of these Chambers.

3. The Costs

A city hall wedding can cost an average of $500, not including any additional receptions or get-togethers with family and friends afterwards. To break down the fees, the marriage license will cost $140, not including HST. To book any of the 3 Wedding Chambers at the Civic Centers will cost $117.10 and an officiant is not provided. An officiant is provided at the Toronto City Hall Wedding Chambers and to have your civic ceremony there will cost $290. The room rental for all of these locations is only for 30 minutes but you may request additional time.

4. The Ceremony

City hall weddings typically last for 15 minutes but you are allotted the space for 30 minutes giving you some extra time for pictures. At the ceremony you will need to show your marriage license to the officiant and have two witnesses to sign your marriage license. A Record of Solemnization of Marriage, which is not a marriage certificate, will be given to you at the end of the ceremony in which you may apply for a marriage certificate 10-12 weeks from the date your marriage took place.

5. Other Things Happening There

Weddings tend to be intimate and quite occasions for the most part, but city hall and civic centers are busy places. Keep in mind that you will have to deal with the traffic of people, other celebrations and of course, protests that may be happening outside.

You can elope anywhere and especially during the summer months when the weather is nice, City parks, gardens and indoor conservatories are lovely locations for small and intimate elopement ceremonies. The fee to use these public spaces is $192.01, a little more expensive than that of any of the three Civic Centers, but it will be well worth the extra money.

As you have read, to get civilly married in Toronto is quite simple and many planners have now added elopements to their packages. If this is something you are interested in, take a look at our all-inclusive Elopement Package, Pas De Deux. All you have to do is select a date, time and Location and we’ll take care of the rest, making it a simple and stress free process. This package is great for couples who have postponed their wedding and don’t want to wait to get married, for those wanting to have a smaller more intimate ceremony, as well as for married couples looking to renew their vows. Covid-19 may have caused the event industry to put a halt on weddings and change the way we look at gatherings but Love will always remain!