City Informer: How Can I Become a Wedding Officiant in Vancouver?

Can I marry you? Please?

Here’s the funny thing about weddings in B.C.: while you can ask anyone you want to marry you (kissy-kissy-wise), you actually can’t ask anyone you want to marry you (filling-out-the-paperwork-wise).

This distinction is downright infuriating for someone who would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to join my dearest friends on their special day and aggressively steal their thunder, ideally while wearing some sort of statement-making robe. It’s the gig of a lifetime! You have everyone’s undivided attention and are very unlikely to get heckled. Plus, if you start to rap mid-ceremony, everyone will just assume the couple asked you to and so legally cannot stop you!

But, sadly, the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency reserves this honour for a lucky and select few attention hogs. Unlike in the U.S., where a shocking 94 percent of sitcom sidekicks (source needed) are authorized to perform legal weddings, BCers can’t just hop onto and impulse-buy an officiant’s licence like it was an irresistibly priced pair of “swim culottes” from a drop-shipping fast-fashion brand. Instead, a board of shadowy figures (assistant regional managers) evaluates applicants for rare commissioner job openings, striving to pick someone who will execute weddings with the appropriate dignity and grace: e.g., that special someone who is able to listen to the phrase “I can’t believe I’m marrying my best friend” 900 times a year without getting their eyes stuck mid-roll.

Vital Stats establishes a specific number of commissioner positions for each city in B.C., based on the area’s population. This totals around 370 across the province. Marriage commissioners are allowed to serve for 10 years, which means opportunities to apply for this plum role come up infrequently—who would want to walk away from $75 a gig plus bottomless wedding cake? Those are the sort of benefits labour unions across the world are fighting for. Unlike the pay-to-play model that’s common in the States, our Vital Statistics Agency is looking for a very particular type of person. Successful applicants are “retired or semi-retired,” not involved in activities that could be a conflict of interest and are active in their communities. In other words: if you’re a busy divorce lawyer who just emerged from a decades-long entrapment in a bomb shelter (a.k.a. Blast from the Past syndrome), this might not be the side hustle for you.

Of course, there is another avenue toward making your wedding (administration) dreams come true: a little loophole I like to call “religion.” B.C.’s Marriage Act gives religious bodies the freedom to appoint their own reps—so if you’re interested in performing a wedding ceremony, maybe now’s the time to finally commit to a leadership role at the Sacred Circle of the Great Mystery Shamanic Society. Or if you don’t have time to explore the riddles of human existence, you can always pony up $2,500 USD for a fast-tracked six-month online course and become an ordained minister at the Canadian International Metaphysical Ministry.

In sum: those of us without a passion for sacred shapes or spending half a year on Zoom at a “metaphysical university” will just have to apply the old-fashioned way, and then wish and wait for that special day when the government finally pops the big question: “Will you marry them?” Those who pass the interview process do have to complete a three-hour training session, which presumably entails listening to Lonestar’s smash hit “Amazed” on repeat to test your wedding fortitude.

But once you’re in, much like a marriage, you’re in it for life, a.k.a., 10 years. Step down the aisle to your rightful place at the altar, finally the unapologetic Officiantzilla you’ve dreamed of being since you were a little girl.

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