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B.C. is struggling to find marriage commissioners to help say ‘I do’ in rural communities

Some 384 active marriage commissioners currently work in B.C.

Shortages of workers and volunteers have seeped into the industry of love.

The province recently announced that officials are facing challenges in hiring marriage commissioners, particularly in rural communities.

“Geographically remote towns and cities with small populations often face difficulties in recruitment,” a statement from the ministry of health said.

Marriage commissioners provide couples with flexible non-religious options for their wedding. There are 384 active commissioners currently working across the province.

Generally, B.C. has no problems recruiting marriage commissioners and applications generally outpace open postings because few barriers prevent people from entering and staying with the program, the ministry said.

But it all depends on geography.

Areas like Tofino-Ucluelet, Campbell River, Port Hardy and the Gulf Islands have difficulty filling vacant marriage commissioner positions, while Victoria, Nanaimo and Parksville do not, the ministry said.

Abbotsford, 100 Mile House, Field, Fort St. James, Horsefly, Kaslo and McBride are also looking for marriage commissioners, with applications open until April 14.

Should communities lack marriage commissioners, qualified officiants in nearby communities are generally able to assist couples.

But this shortage comes amid the backdrop of an influx in weddings that were postponed during the height of the pandemic. B.C. recorded 25,624 weddings in 2022, with June through September the busiest months.

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Marriage commissioners are considered a volunteer and community service, which means these are not salaried or wage-based positions.

Instead, commissioners retain $50 plus GST of the standard marriage ceremony fee. Marriage commissioners can also collect additional fees of $25 per hour after the first hour, which includes both preparing and performing the ceremony, as well as rehearsal and travel time. They can also collect a mileage fee of $0.61 per kilometre.

How busy a marriage commissioner depends on location and level of demand from couples tying the knot.

B.C’s Vital Statistics Agency advertises annually for various locations across the province and three regional offices manage the program itself.

Job qualifications require availability, presentation and communication skills, professionalism, location, and access to transportation.

Marriage commissioners must live in the communities where they plan to help couples say ‘I do.’

In 2001, the province limited the maximum term of marriage commissioners to 10 years.


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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