A priest/deacon has the discretion to decline to solemnize any particular marriage. A priest/deacon must abide by both Canon and Civil Law; and cannot act only in a civil capacity because the licence to conduct a wedding was granted on the basis of being a minister of religion.

Licence to Marry

A Licence to Marry may be obtained from the issuer of marriage licences at the Municipal Clerk’s office. At least one party to the proposed marriage must apply in person and complete the application form. The issuer may require proof of age of any party. All minors must submit proof of age. There are no requirements respecting residency, pre-marital blood tests or medical certificates. A marriage licence is valid for use anywhere in Ontario for a period of three months from the date of issue. There is no waiting period following the purchase of a marriage licence.

Prerequisites for a Marriage


Canon Law specifies each person must be sixteen years of age or older. The civil regulations specify any person who is at least eighteen years of age may marry. No person under sixteen years of age may marry. Any person who is 16 or 17 years of age (other than a widow, widower or divorced person) requires the written consent of his/her legal guardian. A special consent form is available from the issuer of marriage licences.

If any person whose consent is required is unavailable or refuses to consent, an application may be made to a judge to dispense with the consent.

Free to Marry

Annulment or Divorce

Neither partner shall be married to another person. In the case of people who have been married and had their marriage annulled or are divorced, permission from the Matrimonial Commission must be obtained to be married or to have a civil marriage blessed using the rites of the Anglican Church. See “Matrimonial Commission” below.

Provincial regulations state,

a person whose previous marriage has been dissolved or annulled will require:

  1. if the marriage was dissolved or annulled in Canada, the original or a Court certified copy of the final decree or judgement dissolving or annulling the marriage, or
  2. if the marriage was dissolved or annulled outside Canada, the consent of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Presumed Death of the Spouse

Where the earlier marriage of one of the parties was terminated by the presumed death of the spouse, a court order declaring the presumed death of the spouse must be obtained. An issuer of marriage licences can supply further information upon request.

Application must also be made to the Matrimonial Commission for the Determination of Marital Status to obtain permission to remarry using the rites of the Anglican Church when the spouse is presumed dead. Contact the Synod Office for the instructions concerning the application form.

Impediments of Kindred or Affinity

A couple that is too closely related to each other cannot be married. A table of Kindred and Affinity is found on p. 562 of the Book of Common Prayer.

Other Prerequisites

The following are also impediments under General Synod Canon XXI and Civil law:

This section is being revised to match the current canon.

This is an impediment under General Synod Canon XXI:

* one of the parties is not a Christian and there is a condition taken that the Christian party shall be entitled to adhere to and practise Christianity or to bring up any children of the union as Christian, and the non-Christian party assents to the condition without intending that it shall be satisfied.


The couple must give 60 days notice to the priest/deacon. The priest/deacon may waive this requirement for a good reason, in which case he or she shall notify the Bishop stating the reason for the decision.

Marriage Preparation

The priest/deacon must ensure the couple receives marriage preparation. The Canon does not describe the content of marriage preparation. Marriage preparation should include a discussion on the sacrament of marriage. With the increasing awareness of violence within relationships, power and control should be addressed.


Either the bride or groom must be baptized in order to have a wedding in the Anglican Church. They do not need to have been baptized in the Anglican Church. If only one person has been baptized, the matter must be referred to the Bishop.

Matrimonial Commission

Each diocese has a Matrimonial Commission, or shares a Matrimonial Commission with other dioceses. The Commission hears applications for permission to remarry using the rites of the Anglican Church, to have a civil marriage blessed if either person was divorced prior to being civilly married, and to obtain a Determination of Marital Status. The ‘Determination of Marital Status’ is for persons who were married and had their marriage annulled or were divorced and seek the church’s declaration of nullity; and/or whose spouse is presumed dead.

The purpose of applying for permission to marry attempts to ensure that the person who has been divorced is maintaining his or her responsibilities from the previous marriage such as child care and alimony; that the person learned from the breakdown of the previous relationship; and that the proposed marriage has a reasonable chance of success.

An annulment or nullity is a statement that the purported marriage did not result in a marriage. The condition for an annulment is a violation of one of the prerequisites to marriage, which are listed above under “Prerequisites for a Marriage”.

The Diocese of Algoma’s Matrimonial Commission normally meets on the first Friday of each month. The completed application form must be in to the Synod Office ten days prior to the meeting. Copies of the legal documents must be sent with the application i.e. Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute, or Divorce Judgement and Certificate of Divorce.

If a person has two divorces, details must be provided for both, including the showing of extenuating circumstances in order for the church to bless a third marriage.

The members of the commission are particularly interested in the church affiliation, i. e. where the couple are attending church or plan to attend.

In the case where a couple lives outside the Diocese but perhaps for family reasons, wish to be married in a parish within the Diocese, it is customary for them to complete the application with their local priest/deacon. The proposed Officiant from the diocese will submit the application to the Diocese of Algoma Matrimonial Commission indicating a willingness to conduct the ceremony. The Commission would also like to see that arrangements are made for pastoral follow-up after the marriage.

If a divorce was granted outside of Canada, e. g. the U. S. A., the couple must obtain a letter from an Ontario lawyer attesting to the validity of the divorce. The Commission requires a copy of such a letter. This letter is also required to obtain a license to marry.

Note the policy on the Matrimonial Commission may change, as a motion will be put to the 2004 General Synod to amend this policy.