Ontario government shreds your marriage license? Um, no.

There is a story of marital nightmares currently circulating through social media channels right now, and it has everyone freaking out that future weddings may not even be legal.

According to this latest wedding lore, the Ontario Government is shredding all marriage licenses mailed in by clergy/officiants who don’t put the right amount of prepaid postage-paid on the envelopes. In fact, according to blog, The Ottawa Wedding Journal, the warning is stark: “Brides and grooms beware – the Ontario Government is shredding your marriage license. That’s right, because of a new policy they will shred them without notice back to you. Your marriage may never be registered.

image: ottawa wedding journal
Letter showing that marriage licenses may be shredded. A new letter was sent out AFTER this one, saying that no, marriage registrations won’t be destroyed. | Image: Ottawa Wedding Journal

So is this for real?

When we first read this, it seemed straight up crazy. That’s why we asked long-time wedding officiant, Don Perron, if this could actually be true. Is the Ontario Governement, more specifically the Office of the Registrar General (in Thunder Bay) actually shredding marriage licenses??

Don confirmed that yes, the letter is real. “The Office of the Registrar General did send this out in December [but] they have sent all the clergy and Municipalities a corrected version.” He confirms that no, “…nothing will be destroyed.”

So what is the real change?

It sounds more like a change in red tape than anything cruel or scary. And savings of postage expenses on the part of the Registrar’s office. Don says clergy will now have to pay the postage of $1.71 for each envelope they send in to the government, as of January 1st,2017 (or as soon as their envelope stock with the postage paid sticker is depleted.)

Who does this actually effect?

Don says that clergy have been notified as to how to properly send in marriage licences, however, if it’s left up to the bride and groom to do so, then that’s different. “…some celebrants don’t send in the marriage licence [to the Office of the Registrar General] for their couples [like I do]…” So in that case, “if the envelope they receive from the Municipality does not have a stamp on it, the couple will have to put the $1.71 postage on the envelope.” And will it be destroyed if they don’t?? “The only thing I see [in the new process] is that after January 1st 2017, if there is no postage on the envelope that is sent into the registrar, it will be returned to the sender.”

The amended letter:


Don Perron