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This article was published 14/10/2016 (1269 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Soon, couples can get married at city hall.
Contrary to widely held beliefs — reinforced in movies and on TV — that simple, quick and inexpensive civil weddings are regular events at city halls everywhere — that wasn’t the case in Winnipeg. Until now, that is.
On Friday, the city issued a formal venue announcement to "happy couples."
"The City of Winnipeg will now begin offering civil marriage ceremonies at city hall," the statement reads, adding the privilege comes with a $500 fee.
Civil ceremonies and the fee were part of city hall’s last budget in March.
In a lighthearted effort to kick things off, the city announced a contest to pick the first couple to take their vows at city hall. The winning couple will have the $500 fee waived. To enter, submit a description of your love story and the reason your marriage should be the first one performed at city hall.
"Spread the word, city hall is looking for more love," Mayor Brian Bowman said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
"I’m very pleased to see that the city clerks are moving forward with allowing civil ceremonies to be conducted at city hall. If you know anyone who is interested in becoming the first couple to tie the knot here at city hall, I would encourage them to please share their story for a chance to have the fee waived."
Winnipeg wedding planner Melanie Parent of Stylized Weddings said, "This could be a hot new spot depending on how they’re marketing it,"
Parent has planned weddings just about everywhere, except city hall, and noted her clients, typically urban professionals, closely follow trends when they plan their events.
"Most of my clients are trying to be trendy rather than unique," Parent said. The Exchange District is one of the hottest trends for weddings in Winnipeg.
"If city hall takes off, it’ll become a trend, and everyone will want them," Parent said.
The province’s Department of Vital Statistics takes a lead role in Manitoba, setting out the requirements for civil ceremonies, issuing marriage licences and approving marriage commissioners. There’s a 14-page list of marriage commissioners just in Winnipeg with hundreds of names and phone numbers.
Shannon Jackson is on the list and rated among the best on local wedding websites. Last spring, she had a couple who wanted to get married at city hall when they heard Bowman announce it would open up for weddings.
"I understand why the city is doing it. They want to give couples more options," she said. The $500 fee, however, didn’t work for the couple, she said.
A receptionist at Toronto City Hall said Friday the fee for a wedding there is $265. The licence is another $140.
Weddings are so commonplace in Toronto, their city hall has set aside a special wedding chamber to perform them. CBC-TV has a regional show called Let’s Get Hitched about weddings there and at Ottawa City Hall.
Here, some of the most popular locations to get hitched aren’t in Winnipeg, despite the fact the legislature, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the St. Norbert ruins remain top places for wedding photos.
"I would have to say Cielo’s Garden in Steinbach would be at the top of my list," city wedding planner Alexandra Lillian said.
"It’s really pretty, and the owners have put a lot of work into it. It’s a massive plot of land, and I think they’re the only ones with a clear top tent for weddings in Manitoba," Lillian said.
By far the most popular spots are off the beaten path, nowhere near public institutions. A lot of couples prefer to wed privately and less expensively at family homes and backyards.
— with file from Ashley Prest