What’s the Difference?
Between the following:
- Marriage Commissioner
- Justice of the Peace
- Wedding Officiant
- Ordained Minister
This is sort of the same thing that we see with W.T.D between a ceremony and ritual? These titles do get used interchangeably, as well. But, in British Columbia we only have two groups of individuals who can conduct legal weddings. They must be licensed by the BC Vital Statistic Agency to do so. They are:
- A Marriage Commissioner, and/or
- An Ordained Minister/Religious Representative
Many people think that you can just head to the courthouse and get married. You cannot do this in BC, unless the person solemnizing the marriage is one of the above or in some cases have a special temporary license to officiate for a particular couple.
Marriage Commissioners in BC work from an approved ceremony script written by the government with mandatory statements that they are required to say.
Ordained Ministers in BC come in all different shapes and sizes. They must be connected to a religious organization, such as a traditional church or faith group. We are also called Officiants and Celebrants.
There’s a great article here on the differences beyond that.
I am an Ordained Minister with The Canadian International Metaphysical Ministry. I do not attend a traditional church, although I consider all my couples and those I work with for different reasons as my flock (former term: Congregation/Congregants). I have to do this in order to maintain my license to marry. That said, if you look at the spiritual philosophy of C.I.M.M. you will see that we accentuate the divine positive aspects of life to enhance the manifestation of good health, abundance, love, peace, and happiness.
We do not have traditional church buildings. We do not have rigorous expectations. In fact, our membership and ministers are encouraged to live a life that is about good health, abundance, love, peace, and happiness.
So in my ceremonies you will not find any ‘preaching’. I will add in traditional faith elements if a couple request it, for example The Love Chapter of the Christian Bible. I usually do include a blessing the end of the ceremony anything from the Apache Wedding Blessing to a quote from Mark Twain. But it comes from a gentler, kinder, place than that of the traditions many of us grew up in, including me.
As a Celebrant I bring to the table a bit of extra training. Most recently adding to my title the term Master or Certified Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®. My extra training was done through The Celebrant Foundation and Institute over the last several years.
I believe that I HAVE THE BEST JOB EVER! And because I know that, I am constantly looking at new methods, keeping up with new ceremonies and traditions, thus educating myself on a constant basis.
As a final note. Justice of the Peace is not a term we use in British Columbia. They are judges, but do not usually solemnize marriages.