Marriage Policy at DUC

Congratulations to both of you on your upcoming marriage!

This policy applies equally to Dunsford United Church members, adherents and non-members.

Our community worships Sunday mornings at 10.00 am.

All marriages must follow the governing laws of Ontario and Canada, and the policies of the United Church of Canada. A marriage ceremony performed by a Christian Minister has two aspects:

1. It is a civil contract. This means, the minister has legal responsibilities for seeing that the conditions required by the province are met.

2. For Christians, marriage is also a religious rite. The minister has responsibility for seeing that the service reflects our faith. The United Church of Canada believes marriage is a gift from God. As such, the service is a covenant made between two persons and with God. Marriage is a union in which two persons find their richest fulfillment of body, mind and spirit. The ceremony should honour the equality of the two persons within the relationship.  The Wedding Ceremony is deemed to be a Worship service. Couples who feel uncomfortable with this should consider a civil ceremony. Civil ceremonies are officiated by a judge, justice of the peace or authorized municipal clerk.  The minister of Dunsford United is a recognized religious marriage official, approved to conduct marriage ceremonies in Ontario. Our church community offers wedding ceremonies for couples of all sexual orientation or gender identity. We honour, affirm and celebrate the marriage of couples of all gender combinations. Our minister is available to perform weddings both within the church building and at off-site locations. It is understood that all weddings at Dunsford United Church will be conducted by our minister, except when the minister is away. Other ministers may share the service, or in extraordinary circumstances, conduct the marriage ceremony upon approval by the Mission Board of our church and the minister of Dunsford United Church.  

We, at Dunsford United Church, a community of faith in the United Church of Canada, believe, affirm and celebrate:

We see each person as a unique, loved creation of God and welcome all people to the full life of Christian community, including marriage. We believe God intends loving relationships to be faithful, responsible, just, healing, and sustaining of the couple and those around them and that such relationships require preparation and nurture.

(As written under Marriage at United Church of Canada website, last visited May 24, 2018)

We, at Dunsford United, celebrate that a couple seeking to be married enters the institution of marriage as a sacred union, before God and witnesses, to live their love and their life-long commitment to each other.

We, at Dunsford United, celebrate the marriages of couples who may be seeking marriage following a divorce, annulment, or following the death of a previous spouse.

We at Dunsford United, recognize that not all marriages are only within the Christian traditions and welcome the faithful and sacred celebration of marriage of couples of different faith backgrounds.

(As adapted from, Marriage at United Church of Canada website, last visited May 24, 2018)

Dunsford United is an affirming congregation, part of Affirm United. Our vision/mission statement is important in every aspect of life and work in our community of faith, including in outreach in celebrating marriage.

We are a diverse, intentional, inclusive, compassionate, hope-filled Christian family of faith, seeking to respect everyone’s individuality and dignity as Jesus modelled, creating safe space, to demonstrate the spirit of God’s love through worship, work, growth, and respect for all creation. We celebrate and value people of every age, health, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family configuration, background, ability, interest, culture, economic circumstance and faith journey. We endeavor to be aware of, and responsive to, the needs in our community and beyond.

A marriage needs to be nurtured and cherished, honoured and celebrated. The decision to preside is at the discretion of the Minister who is accountable to Dunsford United. We affirm that this unity is a creation of God and is greater than the two individuals.

We honour that there are many different configurations of family and will be happy to work with you to include children in the ceremony, if that is the desire of the couple being married. Honouring/remembering of those no longer with us or unable to be present may be a consideration for some couples. A couple may invite people to share in a leadership role during part of the service, such as a reading a prayer or through music, or some other special contribution. Each service is a reflection of the couple being married and we work with you to ensure your marriage ceremony reflects you as a couple.

There are several elements that characterize the marriage ceremony in this service of worship:

  • God is praised as the source of love and the initiator of covenant.
  • Gospel values (love, justice, compassion) made known to us in Jesus, are expressed.
  • Scripture is read and proclaimed in some form.
  • Witnesses in the legal sense are acknowledged, as well as the presence and support of family, guests, and congregation.
  • Promises are made between the couple and before God.

(As taken from United Church of Canada, expressed in the Wedding Policy of Cambridge Street United Church, Lindsay, ON, effective 2015)

Marriage Ceremony Planning:

If you are a couple who have a venue in mind for your ceremony that is off-site, you will need to contact the minister directly. The decision will be at the discretion of the minister, who will communicate the request to the worship team and the Mission Board. The minister will be responsible for administrative details, ensuring the office administrator receives all needed information to complete the Dunsford United Church registry.

In the case of ceremonies taking place at Dunsford United Church, the minister of Dunsford United Church will be the person officiating the marriage ceremony. Administrative details will be handled by the office administrator. Our office administrator will assist you by:

  • Checking date availability for a rehearsal and ceremony
  • Taking down contact information to connect you with the minister
  • Sending you the detailed application form to assist in planning your wedding ceremony and supporting completion of required forms. This detailed application should be brought to the first meeting with the minister. Some details may not apply or might not be known at the time of the first visit, but every effort should be made to complete it as much as possible.

Following approval by Dunsford United Church, the office administrator will:

  • Schedule dates and times for rehearsal and wedding
  • Contact the custodian to arrange for wedding service caretaking
  • Arrange for someone from the church to act as church representative who will offer support as host/hostess to address questions and needs within the church during the rehearsal and on the day of the ceremony. This person shall contact the couple at least once before the service to introduce themselves. If possible, this person will be at the rehearsal, and will be present throughout the wedding in case guests require something from the church.
  • Contact the media booth technician to arrange for services of a sound technician for the ceremony
  • Provide contact information for the music director so the couple together with the music director can determine availability and discuss music
  • Receive all payment of fees (cash or cheque at confirmation of date and ideally final payment two weeks before the ceremony)
  • Ensure accurate details for the completion of the church registry
  • If the service is desired, for an additional fee of $50 prepare a wedding order of service and copy the bulletins in consultation with the couple being married (see fees)
  • In the event that the church hall is rented for a reception, work out details for the rental agreement   

Date Guidelines:

Please keep in mind the following date guidelines. Final decisions will be made in consultation with the minister with the approval of the Dunsford Mission Board.

Reserving a Date:

Weddings will not be booked on Sunday mornings, unless they are part of service of worship open to all.

Wedding services are not scheduled on the following dates.

 Ash Wednesday,

 Maundy Thursday

 Good Friday,

 Easter Sunday,

 Monday following Easter,

 Christmas Eve/Day,

Wedding services are not typically scheduled on the following dates, without the prior agreement of all staff involved.

 Family Day,

 Victoria Day,

 Canada Day,

 August Civic Holiday,

 Labour Day,

 Thanksgiving Sunday/Monday,

 New Year’s Eve/Day

Marriage Application Form:

Please ensure you obtain and complete to the best of your ability, the Marriage Application Form for Dunsford United Church. This form is set out below and is available in print from the Office Administrator or can be sent electronically. The information recorded on the application form will serve as an organizational tool and information resource, to fulfill requirements for the church registry. Please complete this form (print clearly or type) and return it to the church

Dunsford United Church Wedding Application Form



Meeting With the Minister:

If tentative wedding day availability has been determined through the Office Administrator, an initial meeting is arranged with the Minister. All couples are encouraged to meet with the Minister in a time of preparation to plan the ceremony. For most weddings this involves two meetings, the first to get acquainted and explore expectations and the final meeting to review final details and preparation prior to the wedding rehearsal and ceremony. Both people are expected to be at the planning meetings with the minister. Correspondence by email or phone, in addition to the scheduled appointments will help assure details and planning are completed.  

As a couple, you have the opportunity to customize your wedding ceremony. Please ask the Minister to send some sample files and the couple may explore ideas through other weddings of friends and family members and ideas from the internet. 

Music Consultation:

All couples must arrange to meet with Brenda Shield, our Music Director, if services of a pianist are desired in the church sanctuary. It is recommended that couples meet with Director of Music at least one month before their wedding date. She will be pleased to discuss the options that are available and help you to find appropriate music. If special musicians will be part of the wedding, this needs to be discussed with the Minister and the Music Director. The Music Director exercises first right of refusal in offering music services.

Marriage Preparation:

More than planning a ceremony or wedding celebrations, it is our hope that you, as a couple, are intentional in discerning your readiness for marriage and that you take the opportunity to prepare for your life together as a married couple.

The United Church of Canada’s website suggests the following marriage preparation resource:

The Maritime Conference produced a marriage resource “More Than Friends” 2016, available through the Maritime Conference that couples might wish to work through as a couple or within a faith group.   This is a five-part series, using video presentations. From about this resource on the website it states:

Currently marriage preparation programs reflect hetero-normativity. Often they assume that couples and the person(s) officiating at a marriage can meet face-to-face regularly. They often assume first marriage.

More Than Friends celebrates diversity even as it seeks to prepare couples for some of the commonalities of the blessings and challenges of long term coupling. It is a resource that can be used online or in face-to-face gatherings, with individuals or groups, and can easily be guided by clergy or lay leaders, or even self-guided. It can be adapted for use for a single day event or over a series of weeks or months.

More Than Friends Goals:
  • To help couples define what is and will make a “meaning-full” life together.
  • To assist them in learning practices that enhance and deepen their relationship with each other.
  • To compel couples to do some relational work and thinking around the two “thorny” areas of married life – 1) money management and 2) Sexuality.
  • To help couples deepen their understanding of spirituality within marriage.
  • Couples are the experts on their own relationship.
  • Marriage classes are a response by the church of taking the covenant of marriage seriously – classes are meant to be supportive and an investment in a healthy marriage.
  • The sexual orientation and sexual identity of couples is naturally diverse and this diversity is accepted as a blessing from God.

The Minister at Dunsford United is happy to work through “More Than Friends” Marriage Preparation resource with you, if you would like to arrange to do this. A couple may also wish to arrange for additional meetings with the Minister to engage in further discussions of marriage preparation.

Historical Events and Background:

In 1962, the United Church of Canada confirmed that divorce was not a barrier to marriage, but also confirmed the need for couples to be prepared prior to marriage. In 1988, the General Council affirmed list of 4 items

 that marriage is a gift of God through which Christians make a covenant with each other and with God;

 that in marriage we offer each other the promise of lifelong companionship, the rich expression of human affections and sexuality, and nurture for the children;

 that marriage as an institution can under gird each relationship and provide stability for society;

 the value of marriage and that the church must work both to redeem and care for the institution and to support those entering into a covenant relationship with each other.

The journey towards the celebration of same-sex marriage has both parallel and lead developments in Canadian society. In 1984, the General Council affirmed the church’s acceptance of all human beings as persons made in the image of God, regardless of their sexual orientation. Additionally, it noted that all human relationships should be “faithful, responsible, just, loving, health-giving, healing, and sustaining of community and self.” In 1992, the General Council directed that liturgical resources for same-sex covenanting services be prepared and distributed through the church. In 2000, the meeting of the General Council committed itself to work towards the civil recognition of same-sex partnerships, and in 2003 moved to focus on recognition of same-sex marriages. When same-sex marriage became legal, it was possible for individual clergy and congregations to begin celebrating same-sex marriages. However, as all services of worship are under the joint authority of the local governing body and the clergy, a congregation must decide.

(As recorded from the Marriage Document, United Church of Canada, St. Mark’s United Church, Cannifton ON, from website last visited May 31, 2018), taken from Marriage: Chronology of Marriage and Equality Rights in the United Church”, http:///, United Church of Canada

At Dunsford United Church: On April 13, 2005, historical documents recorded in the minutes of the official board document from the session report that the minister is authorized to perform same sex marriages. In May 2008, the congregation was invited to take part in a learning opportunity about equal marriage using the document “Of Love and Justice,” a comprehensive guide developed by the United Church of Canada inviting local churches to engage in open discussion about marriage policy.

In 2018, Dunsford United Church has committed to being a part of the affirming process and articulates with greater clarity this marriage policy that honours, affirms and celebrates the marriage of couples of all gender combinations. The Dunsford United Church marriage policy reflects our growing understanding and evolving language with respect to celebrating the marriage of couples of all sexual orientations and gender identities, honouring that each local community of faith is responsible for its marriage policy.


A time for a rehearsal will be offered, usually held one or two days before the wedding. All persons involved in the wedding should attend the rehearsal, including where possible, all members of the wedding party, readers, those taking a leadership role, musicians, ushers, parents. Photographers and videographers are welcome if they wish to get a sense of the sanctuary. If some irregularity has occurred and payment of fees or submission of the marriage certificate have not been provided beforehand, final fees need to be paid, the marriage license provided to the minister and if using orders of service, the bulletins need to be in place. If flowers or other decorations are to be placed in the sanctuary, it is a good time to set these in place.

Ontario Marriage License and Recording of Marriage at Dunsford United Church:

You are to secure a license obtained through Service Ontario or download at

Bring it to your final meeting with the minister, or leave it in the church office, ideally, two weeks before the wedding day, along with the balance of fees (cash or cheques. Currently you must be sixteen to get married in the province of Ontario and any person under eighteen must obtain legal written consent of both parents. Legal consent forms can be obtained where you get the marriage license. There can be no legal impediment for a couple to marry. When submitting the completed marriage license application form, at the Service Ontario issuing centre in your municipality, each partner needs to have two pieces of government issued identification, one of which must be photo identification. Please note that each person will be required to know their place of birth and the place of birth of their parents. The full details for the location of the wedding ceremony will also be required including township and county. If either of the couple have been divorced, the court file number is needed to complete a marriage license application. The marriage license is valid for ninety days from issue. As a recognized religious official, the Minister of Dunsford United Church is able to perform marriages and will be responsible for signing the document confirming the marriage has been performed, obtaining signatures of each spouse and both witnesses, and mailing the completed marriage license to Service Ontario. If both people being married are active members in their place of worship, it is possible to have banns read in which the couple declares in worship their desire to be married and the church publishes these banns.

If both people being married are active members in their place of worship, it is possible to have banns read in which the couple declares in worship their desire to be married and the church publishes these banns. This can be requested instead of a marriage license for those couples who both regularly participate in worship. This is an ancient practice called the Publication of Banns, whereby we announce the names of persons to be married during a regular service of worship. The Publication of Banns form is completed and submitted to the Registrar General once signed by the parties, their witnesses, and the minister. There is no cost for the completion of the form. Banns may only be used where each of the parties are “in the habit of attending worship” at a church within Canada, and where neither of the parties has been previously married and in situations where a previous marriage can be proven to be dissolved or annulled. In such circumstances, where one or both persons have been previously married, a marriage license needs to be obtained.

The minister serves Dunsford United Church and is responsible to Dunsford United Church. Each marriage is approved by our Mission Board, lifted in prayer and support. Depending on timing, the names of the couple to be married and request for wedding services of Dunsford United will be shared first to the worship team, who will present the request for approval to the Mission Board. The Mission Board supports the minister in officiating the requested marriage ceremony. The minister is responsible for completing the legal documentation required by Service Ontario and mailing the completed Marriage License when all documents are signed as part of the marriage ceremony. Service Ontario will issue a requested Marriage certificate in three to six months of the ceremony, depending on demand and processing time availability. Weddings in May through September generally are processed by the government more slowly than those at other times of year. The marriage is also recorded in the record book of Dunsford United Church and becomes part of the statistical data for our local church, recorded in the congregation’s annual congregational report prepared for each year’s annual general meeting. All marriages require two witnesses over the age of 18 and contact information for each witness is recorded in the church’s record. Also recorded in the church’s record is the age of each person married, identified occupations and indication if this is a first marriage or if one or both partners have previously been married.

Important Note:

The use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs on church property is strictly prohibited.

The following conditions must be met to avoid cancellation or postponement of your wedding ceremony: in possession of the Marriage License, fees paid on time, presence of two witnesses 18 years of age or older, both spouses must be present, intended couple and/or all witnesses must not be or be suspected to be under the influence of illegal drugs and/or alcohol.


Decorations and flowers are the responsibility of the wedding couple.  Decorations and flowers used to decorate the sanctuary should be brought to the church by family or someone taking responsibility for flowers being set up and removed following the service. It is not the responsibility of Dunsford United Church to obtain, place or remove decorations. It may be possible for decorations to be placed at the rehearsal time. Any seasonal decorations currently in place in the sanctuary (e.g. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter) will remain in place. Please note that the use of confetti, rice, birdseed or other similar materials is not permitted in the building or on the church property.


Guests may take pictures, as directed by the couple being married, in consultation with the couple’s photographer/videographer.  With respect to service of worship, it is recommended that guests prioritize taking photos during the processional, recessional and signing of documents, to be able to fully celebrate in the marriage worship service. A designated photographer and guests may take pictures during the ceremony but must be discreet. All designated photographers/videographers should clarify plans with the couple and alert the minister prior to the ceremony.


The church office can prepare a wedding bulletin that lists your wedding party and order of service. You are responsible for supplying the bulletin covers (available at Christian bookstores or through on-line ordering). Reviewing information available on the internet can provide current samples of a variety of orders of services and may also be discussed with the minister and office administrator. This service costs $50 and is over and above the basic wedding package booking fee and is optional. Couples wishing to use this service need to meet with the church’s office administrator, who will assist you to organize and coordinate the order of service, should this service be requested. Families may choose to organize and produce their own orders of service. If doing so, all orders of service should be brought to the wedding rehearsal to ensure they are available for greeters/ushers prior to the ceremony. It is not a requirement to have a bulletin for your marriage ceremony and this option may be chosen to be omitted by the couple.


The wedding package fee is $550. With $250 deposit at the time the wedding is booked and final payment made ideally two weeks before the wedding but no later than the rehearsal.

Use of church $250 (building $100 suggested donation for sanctuary use; custodial services $75; sound booth operator $25; Church Representative for Wedding: $50)

Minister: $150 Music Director: $150

Optional services:

Preparation and Printing of Bulletin: $50. The couple provides the bulletin covers. The fees may be paid in cash or by cheque payable to “Dunsford United Church”

(NOTE: The fees of this marriage policy as of June 2018 will be updated in the fall of 2018 as we undergo conversations and reviews throughout our geographic region with other local United Churches, in anticipation of restructuring in Jan. 2019.) The fees are reviewed annually and approved through Dunsford United Church’s annual general meeting held annually the first Sunday in March.

For off-site weddings:

Fee for Minister $150 plus mileage for the rehearsal and for the wedding (current United Church of Canada rate is $0.39/km)

The fee for an off-site wedding will be clarified with the couple when the location of the ceremony is established.

Dunsford United is committed to meeting your needs and being sensitive to unique situations and special circumstances. We strive to ensure there are no barriers to participation in the life and work of our community of faith. If our fee structure presents economic barriers for a couple who have discerned a desire to be married, please discuss the matter in confidence with the minister.

Our church family and staff pray that God will richly bless your wedding day and your marriage with much joy, laughter and love.

Revised – June 2018                

Minister: Sharon Ballantyne            

Church Musician: Brenda Shield

Office Administrator: Christena-Lynn Erglis