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Coronavirus and Wedding Officiants

This article is no longer current, and is not being updated. Please see this announcement for current guidance for officiants.

Updated on March 17, 2020
Because the situation with the Coronavirus is continually evolving, this article will be updated accordingly. (Text with a strikethrough indicates information is no longer current.) Our goal is to provide marriage officiants with information and guidance so they are safe, and able to carry on the best they are able during this challenging time.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is creating a new normal for everyone. As we come to terms with significant changes to how we interact with others, our purpose is to provide guidance and support to help you navigate these unchartered times.

What’s an Officiant to Do?

Weddings are celebrations of love. In most cultures, we recognize that love with touch. Hugs, kisses, group photos and all of the couples’ closest friends and family squished together in one room. What does this mean when many governors have declared there is a national state of emergency, and the official direction is social distancing? Of course, we all need to follow the CDC’s recommendations, like frequent hand-washing, covering a cough, and protecting vulnerable citizens. But now they’ve updated the guidance to no groups of 50 or more – including weddings. And really, any more than 10 is discouraged.
Beyond that, couples and officiants alike are struggling with what to do. As professionals, it is good practice to be at the ready with some wedding-related suggestions.

  • Proceed with the ceremony, but keep it intimate. Postpone the mega-celebration.
  • Cut the guest list way down. Small gatherings only – less than 10.
  • Have a private ceremony and move the party to a small gathering at an outdoor location.
  • A microwedding. They were already trending before this pandemic.
  • Elope.
  • Be outside whenever possible.
  • Facetime Live-it! Have virtual guests at your just-you-and-officiant ceremony.

Personal and Community Safety

Taking care of you is always important. This virus is more dangerous for older people and those with underlying health conditions. If that includes you, then taking appropriate precautions is paramount. If not, it is likely that you have loved ones who fall into this category. Which means, this is all of us. Have a conversation with the couple if the wedding ceremony is large, indoors, and/or in close quarters to find a happy solution. They are likely having similar misgivings, and will welcome your expertise. Work together on a plan that keeps everyone safe, and still celebrates their love for each other.
If you are unsure what to do, check with your healthcare provider. If you are not comfortable proceeding, tap into your network of fellow officiants at JPus to ask if there is someone else who can step in.


Handshakes. Eh, not-so-much. Kisses and hugs? Well… No. 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.
  • 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.
  • Elbow bumps. This one is on the cusp of acceptable practice, as it violates the 6-foot social distance rule.
  • 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.

It is likely that we’re in this for the long haul. Do you have ideas on ways to support your fellow officiants or couples? Tell us, and we’ll share with others.
Please check back for updates, as the official guidance on the Coronavirus is frequently changing.

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