Overview

To get married in Alberta, there are a number of steps you must complete.

Before the marriage ceremony

  1. Get an Alberta marriage licence.
  2. Choose the style of marriage ceremony: religious or civil.
  3. Find a marriage officiant who is authorized through Vital Statistics to perform marriages in Alberta.

At the ceremony

Make sure all the requirements for a ceremony are followed.

After the ceremony

  1. The marriage officiant keeps the Marriage Licence portion of the Registration of Marriage/Marriage Licence form.
  2. The marriage officiant sends the Registration of Marriage portion of the Registration of Marriage/Marriage Licence form to Vital Statistics within 48 hours of the ceremony for registration.
  3. The Registration of Marriage is a legal document. It becomes the official record of marriage and is permanently archived with Alberta Vital Statistics.
  4. The information on the Registration of Marriage is used to create government-issued marriage documents.

Alberta government issued marriage certificates can be ordered at an Alberta registry agent office.

In Alberta, you can keep your own last name or assume a married last name when you get married.

If there are errors on your marriage document, an amendment may be needed.

Ceremonies

To get married in Alberta, you must have a marriage ceremony; papers cannot just be signed.

There are 2 kinds of marriage ceremonies that can be performed in Alberta: religious and civil. Both are equally legal in Alberta.

Religious ceremony

A religious ceremony is performed by a religious marriage officiant (religious representative or clergy person) who is registered with Vital Statistics to perform marriages in Alberta according to the rites and usages of their religious organization.

All marriage ceremony requirements apply.

A valid Alberta marriage licence is always needed.

Civil ceremony

Civil ceremonies are performed by a marriage commissioner appointed by the Alberta Government.

All marriage ceremony requirements apply.

A valid Alberta marriage licence is always needed.

During a civil ceremony, each person getting married is required to declare the following two legislated statements in front of their intended spouse, both witnesses and the marriage commissioner:

  • I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, (name) may not be joined in matrimony to (name).
  • I call upon those persons present to witness that I, (name), do take you, (name) to be my lawful wedded (wife/husband/spouse).

Marriage ceremony requirements

When getting married in Alberta, the following requirements must be met:

  • the Alberta marriage licence must be valid on the date of marriage
  • the Registration of Marriage/Marriage Licence form must be given to the marriage officiant before the marriage ceremony starts
  • the ceremony must take place in Alberta
  • the marriage officiant must be authorized through Vital Statistics to perform marriages in Alberta
  • the couple getting married and 2 adult witnesses must be physically in the presence of the marriage officiant
    • marriage by proxy (someone standing in place for the person getting married via teleconferencing, Skype, etc.) is not allowed
  • witnesses must meet the following requirements:
    • be 18 years of age or older
    • cannot be cognitively impaired
  • the couple and the witnesses must be fluent in the languages being spoken at the wedding ceremony and fully understand the English forms they have to sign
    • if a person in the wedding party (couple and/or witnesses) are not fluent in English, an interpreter/translator may be required; talk to your marriage officiant
    • when an interpreter/translator is required, it is the couple's responsibility to provide one
  • none of the wedding party may be under the influence of a drug or alcohol
  • during the ceremony, the Registration of Marriage form must be signed by the couple, the 2 witnesses and the marriage officiant

At the conclusion of the marriage ceremony, the marriage officiant will provide the couple with a proof of marriage document.

Find a marriage officiant

A marriage officiant is a person who is legally authorized through Vital Statistics to perform a marriage in Alberta.

Alberta has 2 kinds of marriage officiants: religious and civil.

  • A religious marriage officiant (religious representative or clergy person) must be registered with Vital Statistics to perform marriages in Alberta according to the rites and usages of their religious organization.
  • A marriage commissioner must be appointed by the Alberta Government to perform civil ceremonies for the community and area in which they reside.

There are no legal differences between getting married by a religious marriage officiant and a marriage commissioner.

Religious Officiant

As there are over 10,000 clergy registered to perform marriages in Alberta, a public list is not available. To find an authorized religious representative/clergy person, contact the applicable church or religious organization.

Marriage Commissioner

See the list of marriage commissioners in Alberta.

Registry agents can also provide names of marriage commissioners.

Cost

Contact the marriage officiant performing your marriage to find out how much the ceremony will cost.

Fees may vary among marriage commissioners.

Married last name

In Alberta, you can keep your own last name or assume a married name when you get married. Either way a legal change of name through Vital Statistics is not required.

You can:

  • keep your last name
  • assume your spouse's last name
  • join your and your spouse‚Äôs last names and assume this joined name
    • joining a last name can be with or without a hyphen, or a space; the order of the two names is up to you
    • for example: Smith-Jones, Smith Jones, SmithJones

Changing to a married name

If you choose to assume your spouse's last name (or create a joined last name), you should change all your ID to reflect the new last name. Contact each organization that you have an account with and ask what they require to make the change. Most organizations will want to see your government issued marriage certificate.

If you assume a married last name in Alberta, the name on your birth certificate does not change.

You can get a marriage certificate at a registry agent office or through Registry Connect, depending on your location.

Changing back from a married name

If you assumed a married last name and want to go back to the last name you had before you married, it is the same process as when you changed to the assumed last name, only in reverse.

Contact all the organizations for which you have ID and accounts with and ask what they require to make the change back. Some may want to see:

  • your government issued marriage certificate (which will reflect the name you used at the time of your marriage)
  • your birth certificate
  • both certificates or something else too

You can get a marriage certificate at a registry agent office or through Registry Connect, depending on your location.

Other jurisdictions

It is important to note that the practice of assuming a last name in Alberta may differ in other jurisdictions. For example, another province may require a legal change of name rather than permitting a spouse to assume a new last name through marriage. This may or may not affect the name on your birth certificate. Contact the applicable jurisdictions for their practices.

Contact

To connect with Alberta Vital Statistics

Hours: 8:15 am - 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-7013 (Edmonton and area)
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-422-4225

For the deaf or hard-of-hearing:
TTY: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton and area)
Toll free TTY: 1-800-232-7215 (in Alberta)

Email: vs@gov.ab.ca

Mail:
Vital Statistics
Box 2023
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4W7

Courier:
Vital Statistics
Document Reception
John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C5