For Chyrle Kyritz, no two wedding services are alike.
"Each of my ceremonies is custom-written," said Kyritz, a wedding commissioner from St. Francois Xavier.
Kyritz became a marriage commissioner 12 years ago after retiring as a high school teacher, and often uses her language skills to help couples find the perfect words for their big day.
She is one of dozens of marriage commissioners licensed by the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency.
Vital Statistics director Susan Boulter said any permanent resident of Manitoba who’s a Canadian citizen and over age 18 can apply to become a marriage commissioner. There is no exam or fee. Individuals must complete an application form which has to be accompanied by a personal resume and three letters of character reference.
A marriage commissioner is able to perform a civil wedding ceremony within the province, but Vital Statistics also issues a permit allowing someone to conduct a ceremony on a one-time basis.
Sanford resident Vernon Henry decided to become a wedding commissioner 15 years ago after providing pulpit relief and witnessing numerous weddings as a member of the United Church.
Henry and Kyritz both say they have found many younger couples lack a religious background and often need guidance when planning their ceremonies.
"I might give them some suggestions," said Henry, who has performed about 40 ceremonies in locations ranging from his home to a farmer’s fields.
Lisa Sylvestre is a teacher in Winnipeg who enjoys her summer job performing wedding ceremonies in locations throughout southern Manitoba.
"I love weddings," she said. "I love the romance of them."
With experience in the hospitality industry, Sylvestre sometimes finds herself working with a couple to ensure their ceremony fits with their wedding’s theme.
Boulter said about 6,000 weddings take place annually in Manitoba, and a large number of them are held somewhere other than in a church.
"There are fewer and fewer weddings taking place in churches," she said.
Boulter cautioned that unlike in the movies, Manitoba couples can’t get married on the spot. They are required to purchase a marriage license from an authorized agent and show identification before signing the license along with the agent.
They must then wait 24 hours before having their wedding service performed and signing a marriage registration document with two witnesses and the person licensed to perform the ceremony. The document is then registered with Vital Statistics.
"We want to make sure that they get everything accurate," she said.
Boulter said she recommends that couples planning a destination wedding outside of Canada make sure to check into the legality of their marriage both in that country and in Manitoba.
The list of Manitoba marriage commissioners in rural Manitoba is available at http://vitalstats.gov.mb.ca/pdf/marriage_commissioners_rural.pdf. Sylvestre’s website is http://weddingsmanitoba.com/Home_Page.html. Kyritz can be reached at 204-864-2513 and Henry at 204-228-8428.