Updated October 28, 2020
If you are performing an essential wedding ceremony during the coronavirus pandemic, being safe is your number one priority. Safety for you, your couple and your community. Keeping with the CDC’s prevention measures, these five points will help you achieve this, while still making the day special and fun.
Of course, if you, the couple, or another person is experiencing signs of illness, or has been exposed to the coronavirus, the ceremony needs to be postponed.
Maintain Physical Distance
Six feet apart, or more. Always. It isn’t natural. Usually we want to get close. To feel personal. To let our presence speak to the love the couple has for one another. We’ve got to find new ways of expressing that connection from a little further away. Let your eyes convey your appreciation of their love story. The tone of your voice. Maintaining that distance is another way of saying you care. And once the ceremony is complete, leave. No need to linger.
Wear a Face Mask
Wear a face mask, and insist upon it for everyone present. No exceptions. They help stop infected people from spreading germs, and keep us from touching our face. The CDC recommends that everyone wear a face mask when out in public. JPus now sells washable satin face masks in coordinating fabrics to our stoles. These are attractive, and designed with the officiant in mind. They work for brides and grooms, too.
Having a face covering is only good if you are wearing it. Yes, it gets some getting used to. This article from the NY Times provides the low-down on making sure your mask is adjusted properly. There is even a section on foggy glasses!
Stay outside – it is the safest way to go. Even in the winter. Our blog article for couples gives tips on outdoor winter weddings. A backyard, open space, a trailhead or a park that hasn’t been closed down. Identify potential outdoor locations in your area, so if a couple is looking for a location you are ready. If it is raining, then find a gazebo. One of our officiants recently married a couple in their garage, keeping the big garage door open.
Sadly, this is not the time for all of the couple’s friends and families to attend in person. Follow each state’s guidelines on the number of people who may gather – but remember that less is more. Encourage the couple to arrange for the ceremony to be live-streamed, or recorded on Facebook Live so loved ones can participate remotely.
For a profession where hugs are the norm, the no-touching rule is really hard. No kisses or hugs. No handshakes either. Even the elbow bump is out. So, what are some of the ways to greet your couple? And, wedding guests, too.
★ Air kisses. Not the cheek-to-cheek kind, but an exaggerated French-inspired double-kiss. A little hand wiggle gives it extra flourish. From six feet apart, of course.
★ Foot shakes. Tap toes, or just give the foot a little wiggle. With a little practice you can come up with your own little jig.
★ Namaste. Probably one of the safest greetings. To do it, place your hands together near your heart, close your eyes, and make a gentle bow of the head.
The marriage license needs to be completed and returned to the town clerk. Carry your own pen, and use it. Bring a pre-addressed and stamped envelope with you, so as soon as you’ve signed the license, slip it into the envelope to be mailed back to the town offices. Many town clerk offices have drop-boxes outside their office to avoid in-person contact. (Note: these are different than the voter ballot boxes.) Use hand sanitizer after the envelope is sealed and wash your hands with soap when water is available.
Even if they usually aren’t your thing, written agreements prevent misunderstandings. Clearly spelling out your expectations lets the couple know that you take safety precautions seriously. Including language that states that the wedding couple is responsible for their guests compliance gives added weight. This will give you leverage if someone isn’t wearing a mask, the crowd is larger than you were previously told, or the ceremony location is suddenly moved indoors.
Take the training certification, COVID-19 Best Practices for Marriage Officiants. It was developed in consultation with OSHA, and is free! Register here.
Remember that even during the coronavirus, marriages are all about love. We’re all in this together, and the importance and value of being able to bring two people together in matrimony may be even more important now. As professionals, continue cherishing the joy in the ceremony, too.
★ JPus’ COVID-19 pages, regularly updated with resources and support for marriage officiants
★ Be a part of the coronavirus-management conversation with fellow officiants in JPus’ members-only Facebook group
★ Face masks for the officiant and marriage couple. Made by JPus’ seamstress in quality satin fabrics
★ Follow JPus’ Facebook page for coronavirus news and updates