Windsor is seeing more civil wedding ceremonies this year

Windsor's city hall has a dedicated room for civil marriage ceremonies. The city has seen an influx of people wanting to get married there.  (Submitted by Terri Knight Lepain  - image credit)
Windsor's city hall has a dedicated room for civil marriage ceremonies. The city has seen an influx of people wanting to get married there. (Submitted by Terri Knight Lepain - image credit)

The City of Windsor is seeing an influx of people wanting to tie the knot in civil wedding ceremonies.

Windsor's civil ceremony revenue is expected to see a $30,000 surplus this year, according to an operating budget variance report that went to council recently.

Anyone getting married is required to get a licence — with a price tag of $135 at the City of Windsor — and they can also opt to be wedded at city hall for $250.

What's different this year is that applications for marriage licences at the city are down slightly while requests for civil ceremonies are up, says Terri Knight Lepain, the city's manager of records and elections.

Lepain believes the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions have led to more couples choosing to get hitched in a hurry.

"People have prolonged their wedding one and two and three years and they just want to get married," she said.

Relaxed border measures and the ability to travel for a destination wedding may also be leading to the marriage rush at city hall, said Lepain.

Submitted by Terri Knight Lepain
Submitted by Terri Knight Lepain

"I would say that things were changing before COVID, and the pandemic accelerated those changes," said Nancy Campana of Nouveau Event Planning, which puts on wedding shows annually in Windsor.

"We were seeing a big switch before the pandemic into the wine industry. A lot of couples were having weddings at our local wineries, more outdoor weddings, a bit smaller but more lavish weddings."

The outdoor trend "accelerated" in the last few years due to COVID-19 guidelines, said Campana, and led to some new outdoor venues in the region.

Lisa Xing/CBC
Lisa Xing/CBC

But Campana says there's a backlog of weddings that were on pause due to the pandemic, and 2023 will also be a busy year for nuptials as halls and venues continue to be booked up.

"This backup could continue for the next five years because anyone who's getting engaged this Christmas — and 30 to 40 per cent of engagements will happen during the holiday season — will have a very difficult time finding a venue next year," she said.

"So that means they're going to be pushed again into the the following year."

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The city was unable to perform ceremonies due to provincial lockdowns during the pandemic and even halted licensing services for a brief time, said Knight Lepain.

But now, her staff is welcoming anyone who would like to have a ceremony at city hall.

There's a dedicated room for ceremonies and two staff who perform them, though Knight Lepain also steps in during busy days.

"I certainly like doing them," she said.

Knight Lepain said she hopes the new esplanade outside of Windsor's city hall will be completed this year, with a dedicated outdoor space to conduct civil weddings.