How to Get Same-sex Married in BC


by Sophia Kelly for What's on Queer BC

It's Easy for Same Sex Couples to Marry in BC

British Columbia has had full marriage equality since 2003. Marriages for any two adult persons are treated exactly the same. Any couple in BC needs to do three things to get married – get a license, hire an officiant (marriage commissioner or religious officiant), have a ceremony witnessed two others and the marriage commissioner, and get that marriage registered -  Marriage in British Columbia

Buying the licence

Marriage licenses must be bought in person by at least one member of the couple during the three months before the wedding ceremony. You will need to present government identification for both people being married. The marriage license will need to be in your legal name. The license costs $100.  Find out where to buy a marriage licence here.

Who Performs Same-Sex Weddings in BC?

Religious Marriage

If you attend a church that marries same-sex couples, you can talk to your minister, priest/ess or rabbi or check your church's official website for a statement of marriage equality. Some affirming congregations are LGTBQ-friendly, but may not be in a church that solemnizes same-sex weddings.   Religious representatives in Canada are allowed to refuse to marry any couple that doesn't meet their requirements, so they are allowed to discriminate against same sex couples. 

If your religion doesn't support same-sex marriage but you want some religious elements to your marriage, you can hire a marriage commissioner to perform the legal part of the ceremony, but have the rest of the ceremony be whatever you like. When I got married, I organized the religious portions of my wedding ceremony myself and found people to take on those roles, and the marriage commissioner performed the rest.

Non-Religious Marriage

If religious wedding is not what you want or your faith doesn't offer it, you can hire a marriage commissioner. Marriage commissioners are licensed by the province. They must be retired, aren't allowed to advertise or offer other wedding services, and have some other restrictions. They are required to use some specific wording for at least one part of the ceremony but the rest can be whatever you like.

Marriage Commissioners can't refuse to marry a same-sex couple, but that doesn't mean they are necessarily allies.  The best way to find a suitable one is to ask your friends. If that doesn't turn up a suitable person, you can email the Marriage Commissioners in your area, being clear it's a same-sex or queer wedding and the give dates you are looking for. The Commissioners who actually want to perform your wedding will get back to you. Click here for Fees and Directory of Marriage Commissioners on the BC Government Website

You're getting Married!!

I'm so happy for you! Stable, committed lesbian, gay, bi and queer couples are the best thing ever. Congratulations on your happy day!


MagazineSophia Kelly