Because we have a lot of destination wedding clients, one of the top concerns is about the marriage license.

It’s a very good place to start – Should you legally get married in your home country, or would you like your wedding ceremony in Banff to be the “real deal”?

Whether you’re planning a large wedding or an elopement, there are many considerations & decisions to make when getting legally married in Banff National Park… But the good news is, it’s surprisingly quite easy.

Corrina Walker Photography

How does someone from outside Canada get married in Alberta?

Step One, You’ll need an Alberta Marriage License to make it legal. 

  • These are picked up at an Alberta Registry Agent with both parties present.
  • You do not need to be a Canadian citizen, nor need any blood tests. You will need to provide your personal information, and the full names and birth places of your parents (including a parent’s maiden name). You must be over the age of 18.
  • Your license is valid for 90 days and can be picked up anytime within 90 days of the date you wish to be married. If you need to change dates after you have picked up your license and the new date does not fall within the  90 days, your license will no longer be valid and a new one will need to be issued. Please always check the registry hours of operations prior to picking up as registry hours may differ.
  • After you get the license, as tempting as it may be, DO NOT fill out anything on the license leave this to your officiant as it must be completed with both the officiant & witnesses present.
  • If you wish to get married in the BC side of the Rockies – the biggest difference is only a legal officiant can marry you and a BC License will be required.
  • Our recommendation is the Banff Bureau Office. If you are planning to go to this location your paperwork must be submitted in advance. Link here:

Next – Hire an officiant to perform the ceremony.

  • Who can officiate a legal ceremony? A legal officiant appointed by the Government of Alberta, Member of a Church, or a Canadian resident over the age of 18 who has applied & received their day of licensing may perform the ceremony. (Please note: it can take several weeks for the One day Licensing to come through, if you plan to go this route please submit early to account for any delays and avoid any unnecessary stress!)
  • If you are or plan to be legally married elsewhere, you do not need a license or marriage officiant to preside over the ceremony. It can be a symbolic ceremony done by a friend if you don’t plan on legally getting married in Alberta.
  • Here is where you can find a list of all Alberta appointed officiants, but of course more personalized referrals for the perfect officiant can come from our team with any planning program. There are some incredible officiants in the area, we’d be pleased to connect you with them.

During the Ceremony, you will need 2 Witnesses

  • Must have 2 witnesses over the age of 18, they must be present for the entirety of the ceremony and available to sign off on the marriage license.
  • The couple must be fluent in English or have a translator present for picking up the license as well as the ceremony. The witnesses must also be fluent if the ceremony is in English. If a translator is required the translator must sign and submit an affidavit with the submission of license.
  • If you are not bringing anyone with you and having a true elopement you still need 2 individuals present. Either your planner or officiant can help you organize witnesses for your ceremony.
Corrina Walker Photography

What happens after the Ceremony?

  • After your marriage ceremony, you will be given a copy of the license which will be signed at your ceremony
  • Following your ceremony your officiant will submit the paperwork to vital statics and a final copy will be sent to you for your records. This can take a few weeks to process. Your officiant will provide a certificate in the meantime however this is not a valid proof of marriage. Please note if you do not receive your official license after a few weeks you can contact vital statistics to request a copy.

… And that is all you need!

Kristyn Harder Photography

What else should I know before deciding to get married in Banff or Lake Louise?

Are Canadian Marriage Certificates valid in the US? The answer is yes!

If you as a US Citizen choose to be married in the Rockies (or anywhere in Canada) your marriage will be considered valid as long as all of the i’s are dotted & t’s are crossed. When you return home you will just need to submit your license to the proper authorities for your marriage to be recognized. This process varies state to state so we suggest confirming prior to your departure to Canada to ensure you have all of the proper documentation for when you return home.

If we are already legally married do we need a license or officiant? The answer is no!

If you are already legally married, you are having what’s called a “symbolic ceremony”. No license or credentials are required, and this can be done by any friend or family member you choose. If you want to legally get married in your home country for whatever reason, you can still have a professional officiant or member of the church perform the symbolic ceremony if you chose, and a license is not required.

Kristyn Harder Photography

Of course, these are just the very basics for a legal marriage in the mountains. If you are wanting help with finding the perfect location, vendor team and pulling together all the details, we would be happy to help you through our exclusive planning programs.

Click here to learn more!