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What You Need Before Tying The Knot

wedding ceremony setup

If you're getting married in Manitoba, here are some legal steps to help set you up right the first time.

For years now, I have been hearing so many brides-to-be asking about marriage licenses and certificates, and what to do after the vows have been said.   So here are the steps you need, as directed from Vital Statistics.   . . And just over half-way down are really great Tips on who to notify for any of you that have decided to Change Your Name.

Begin your legal union by buying a Marriage License  ( ie: a Registration Of Marriage ).

You can download or view the documents below for Registered Marriage License Issuers (Sellers).

Let's begin by defining what you're looking for.   A Marriage License  ( Registration ) Of Marriage is the one that will eventually become the legal document to remain on file at Vital Statistics.   A Marriage Certificate is the paper you must apply for to Vital Statistics once your Marriage License has been submitted and recorded in provincial records.    The Certificate is a personal keepsake and signifies your marriage took place on a date and place, and contains any change of name you've already specified.   Both items will cost you money to obtain.   Valid identification will satisfy a great deal below, but be prepared with the following documents to prove you are who you say you are!

The First Step, Eh?   A "Marriage License":

  • currently costs $100 dollars.   It can be purchased from 24 hours before, or up to 3 months ahead of time - but no more than that.   The License is only valid for a maximum of 3 months before your wedding date.
  • must be purchased with BOTH you and your fiance present in-person  ( no you can't use a cell phone or a virtual online link. )
  • can only be purchased if both of you have legal identification including photo i.d.   First off, you must be at least 18 years old to marry in Manitoba.   Law states that your permission to marry must be of your own expressed free-will.   Proving your identity and age will require accepted documents such as a:
      Birth Certificate
      Passport or U.S. Passport Card
      Citizenship Certificate (Canadian or United States Of America)
      Canada Immigration documents
      Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card
      Government Of Canada Indian Status Card
      Photo i.d. Driver's License WITH one of the following:   - Manitoba Health Card,   - Senior Citizen Card / Old Age Security Card,   - Change Of Name Certificate,   - Social Insurance Number Card

Conditions for your current status:

  • Single - officially means never married and over 18 years of age
  • Divorced or Annulled - are required to show either a:   - Divorce Certificate or a Church endorsed Decree Absolute  ( indicating the prior marriage was not recognized as legitimate )
  • Widowed persons must show a   - Death Certificate for spouse, or Funeral Home Statement Of Death, or Obituary clipping from an official Newspaper

Your new Marriage License  ( Registration ) Of Marriage will become a permanent legal document.   The issuer will fill out the form using your identification and other information you provide to them.   You absolutely need to read through the Form completely before signing the 'Oath' (your pledge).   Be sure all relevant fields are very legible, accurate and fully completed.   If there are any errors or omissions you missed on the Marriage License, getting them corrected may become your latest nightmare.   To quote directly from their website: "Manitoba Law determines how, or even if, changes can be made to a permanent legal record and requires payment of fees to do so."   At the very least, it will definitely inconvenience you in some ill-pleasing manner.

So, understand that:

  • all information on your License should be clear and legible, no abbreviations or initials and no nicknames.   Use only your full names as they exactly appear on your other 'government issued' documents.
  • Vital Statistics will maintain a copy of the Registration exactly as it was received, making it a permanent legal document.   Don't assume your Registration can be changed at a later time.
  • in regards to your Marriage 'Certificate' - this personal document cannot be issued until the License  ( Registration ) has been fully completed and submitted.   In other words, you must have gone through a marriage ceremony where you, your fiance, your witnesses, and the officiant must have signed the Registration.   The Officiant will then submit the document to Vital Statistics within 5 business days following the ceremony.
  • any documents submitted MUST be in  ( or translated into ) English or French.   Both are official languages in Manitoba.
  • you can download the  Marriage Certificate Application here  once you're married.

Steps for you and the Officiant

An officiant can be a member of a church clergy who will have their own fee setup accordingly.   You can also use a registered marriage commissioner,  many of whom may reside within your municipality.   Their fee schedule will depend on what agreement is reached between you, but Manitoba guidelines recommend starting at $50 dollars plus reasonable fees for travel and other expenses they might incur.   A tip for having them work for you would also be appropriate.   Most will have great suggestions on what you can say during your vows to each other, and how the decor, the seating, the order of bridal party approach, and more will benefit you as you embark on your special journey together.   Even microphone use and communication with your wedding planner and DJ or musicians will all come into play with arranging to be married by an officiant.

Just be sure you get your ceremony itinerary, and completed License  ( Registration ) to your officiant ahead of time, so everything flows smoothly, and you can finally, sign the Register during your ceremony.   You will of course know of a local clergy from your favorite church or religious group that you might want, but if you prefer a non-clergyman, and are on the fence about who to ask, you can check out the lists provided by Vital Statistics below . .

If you still need more information on who might be the best fit for you, I encourage you to reach out to me at    Medallion Sound, and ask for some great referrals.   I have worked with some really terrific officiants who, like me;  are totally dedicated to providing the perfect wedding ceremony experience for their couples.

Should you have any questions about Marriage License Requirements, call Vital Statistics at    1-204-945-3701  or    1-866-949-9296  seven days a week from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, or email them at

Important Tips - Who To Contact If You Have Changed Your Name

Let's use the most common example:  You are now married and have decided to adopt your spouse's last name ( surname ) for your new life together.   Okay, here's some brief info before we get to the Tips.   Manitoba has guidelines specifying how you may legally approach this scenario within our Province.
Options for choosing a surname after marriage or  ( entry into a common-law relationship ):

  • 1)   You are allowed to retain your current surname
  • 2)   You can assume your spouse's surname or common-law partner's surname
  • 3)   You are allowed to combine your current surname with your spouse's  ( or partner's ) surname - either with or without a hyphen ( - ).   In this scenario, it doesn't matter which name comes first as part of the surname.
  • 4)   You may assume your spouse's  ( or partner's ) surname and retain your present surname as an extra given or middle name.

All 4 options apply equally to men and women.   If you were born in Manitoba, your birth certificate name will NOT change to your married name or common-law partner's name.   In other words, Vital Stats itself is not concerned whether or not you change your name using one of the above options.   However, if you have decided to completely change your full  ( ie: first and last ) names, then you will  have to apply for a change of name document.   Just remember that the marriage Certificate you will need to present to all the services below, will come back with your name exactly as it appears on the marriage License / Registration that was submitted after your ceremony.

So with Vital Statistics procedures out of the way and your new Marriage Certificate in-hand, just who do you notify about your name change?   The following list may not be complete depending on your particular lifestyle, but it covers just about everything I can think of.   They are listed in the order I think are the most important, from the top ( urgently required ) to the bottom ( a little ways down the road ).

  • MPIC - for both driver's license and registered vehicles, you are required to update your change of name information no more than 15 days from the official date of change
  • Citizenship & Immigration Canada - Citizen or Permanent Resident Card - for those born outside of Manitoba
  • Winnipeg Regional Health Authority - Manitoba Health Card and any childrens names who will also be using a different name
  • Service Canada - for your Social Insurance Number, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance Benefits,  ( see Passport below )
  • Canada Revenue Agency - for all of your tax and benefit accounts.   If you have been filing separately while living common-law, you will now have to file together, as your income is now household income.   Applies to any business and personal accounts ( Federal, Provincial, Gst, Child Tax Benefits, etc. )
  • Manitoba Land Titles - change of name on currently owned properties
  • Home Content and Business Insurance policies
  • Life and Accident Insurance Policies and third-party insurance plans - blue cross, great west life, purple shield, etc.
  • Banking Accounts - all accounts including mortgage, investments and credit card companies
  • Employer - all information your employer has with your old name to be updated
  • University or School you are currently attending - and any organizations that have or will provide a bursary, educational grant or student loan
  • Official Aboriginal Membership - Band Treaty information and Manitoba Metis Federation
  • Utilities - all billing accounts that have your old name associated
  • The Landlord - for those who are renting property
  • Professional Medical Practices - doctor's / surgeon's office, dentist, physiotherapy and any others
  • Membership cards - library, book club, fitness, other lifestyle memberships
  • Church Membership - for those that donate regularly, you will need to change to your new name for tax receipt purposes
  • Passport ( Service Canada ) - there are conditions to using a passport with your old name.   See official government documentation for up-to-date information before embarking on any international travel
  • Legal Will or Estate Plan ( including if you are mentioned in someone else's Will - your name will need to match )
  • Personal - emails, letterheads, labels, any communication that automatically contains your old name
  • Campsite and/or cabin rental bookings - annual and seasonal park records should be updated

I certainly hope this incredibly useful guide helps you out in many ways.   Please accept my Congratulations on your engagement and subsequent marriage.   Reach out if you would like to know more about our services, or continue to browse our informative web site.   Wishing you all a great week ahead.   

- Darrell