Marriage by an out-of-province minister?
June 4, 2009 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Can an Anglican minister from a different province marry two kinda-lapsed Catholics in Canada?

My fiance and I are trying to figure out how we want to get married and by whom. We're debating between getting married in a Catholic church (we are both Catholics, fairly lapsed but still feel a connection to the church and definitely to Christianity) or seeing if our friend can marry us. We really like the idea of our friend marrying us to make the ceremony that much more personal. Our good friend is a non-practicing Anglican minister who lives across the country, which is also where his parish is. We're getting married in Ontario. All of us are Canadian.

Because we haven't decided where we want to get married, we don't want to ask our friend yet, especially if it's not even possible for him to marry us anyway. If he were to marry us, it would not be in an Anglican church, but outside or at another (non-religious) venue.

1) Could our friend marry people in another province, outside of his parish?
2) Could he marry non-Anglicans?

posted by pised to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total)
My guess is that this is all fine. There's the legal question of whether your friend can marry people in a different province - and I'd be amazed if a minister in a recognized church wasn't allowed to officiate anywhere in Canada, but I'm guessing.

And there's a religious question as to whether the rules of the church would prevent a clergyman from marrying two particular people. The Episcopal church has got to be one of the most laid-back faiths out there. Short of an Elvis impersonator I have a hard time imagining anyone less uptight about what denomination you are and how serious you are about it. I mean maybe if you were seriously flamboyant satanists or something...

So my thoroughly unqualified opinion is that you shouldn't have any trouble, especially since it sounds like you're kind of flexible. But here's a pointer to some more information:
posted by Naberius at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2009

No, the priest can't marry you. No priests ever can marry anyone. The priests don't do the marrying, it's the two people getting married that do the marrying. I'm not joking.

Marriage is a sacrament. That sacrament is between the two people getting married and God. Not between the priest and the two people, or the priest and God.

The priest does nothing more than bless the marriage. The priest cannot decide whether or not you should get married or refuse to do it because you are atheists, satanists, or anything else, as long as you meet some basic requirements for marriage. So he can say that you have to do the service in a certain way, or he can ask you to go through counseling, and he can do other things to assure him that the sacrament is performed validly and that the marriage is valid (hence why most Christian ministers don't bless homosexual unions.)

I have heard of ministers who completely disagree with the marriage of two people, but they "had to" do the ceremony because they went through all the required motions.

So short answer, yes, he can definitely "marry" you as long as you're actually wanting a real, sacrimental mairrage (he can refuse if you already have plans to divorce, or refuse to take the vows, or want to practice lifelong abstinence even though you're perfectly capable, etc... those are things that are arguably not marriage) and are willing to meet any of the sacramental requirements he has (maybe he requires some witnesses, etc).
posted by brenton at 4:23 PM on June 4, 2009

According to this (, your friend cannot perform the "legal" side of the marriage, unless he receives authorization from the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario. Marriage in Canada, it seems, is a provincial matter.

As for the blessing of the union, I guess he can do it unless it is forbidden by his own church.
posted by bluefrog at 6:34 PM on June 4, 2009

I went through something similar to this. I was a very lapsed Catholic and my partner was a semi-lapsed Anglican. I didn't want a church wedding, but partner did. We compromised by getting married by an Anglican priest in a chapel. The priest would not marry us outside of a church, but the chapel was acceptable. We were not members of his congregation but my partner's family has been for a long time which I think helped. YMMV
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 7:38 PM on June 4, 2009

The easiest way to answer this question is from to view points:

1 - You want to be married and have people recognize it.

If this is so then yes your friend can marry you. Have him do whatever he needs to for the marriage license. You could also go to a judge, captain of a boat, any minister, or even Elvis in Vegas.

2 - You want to be married in the eyes of the Catholic church.

If this is so then no your friend cannot marry you. In order for the Catholic church to recognize a marriage you have to have a Catholic priest perform the ceremony.

If you get married by your friend and later want the Catholic church to recognize your marriage you can simply "renew" your vows in front of a priest. This way you were married in a Catholic church. There might be more to it but that's it in a nutshell.

Congrats by the way!!!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:42 AM on June 5, 2009

Response by poster: Mastercheddaar, we want to be married and have people recognize it but we also want a Christian ceremony, whether it be by our Anglican friend or in the Catholic church (which obviously our friend couldn't do).

bluefrog, thanks for the helpful link. If we were to go this route, do you (or anyone else?) know how he would go about getting authorization from the Registrar General? Or would it just be way too many hoops to go through for him to do it?

Thanks to everyone so far!
posted by pised at 10:58 AM on June 5, 2009

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