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Stay-home orders have made audio-video marriages a thing. Meaning, the couple in one location and the officiant in another. So far, none of the states that JPus is active in has taken this route. But the governors of New York, New Jersey and Colorado have, and now video (Zoom, Skype, Facetime, etc) officiants are allowed in those states. To evaluate the pros and cons, we invited JPus members to talk together during a Zoom call on May 19, 2020.
Video Officiants: Why they Trouble Us
With video marriages – or perhaps the better term is Video Officiants – the couple and the JP see and hear each other by audio-video technology. To be clear, we are not talking about live streaming the ceremonies. Live streaming (e.g. Facebook Live) is a terrific way for friends and family to be a part of the special day during the pandemic – when the couple and officiant are together.
The Zoom conversation was lively, with a few members having very strong opinions that video officiants are problematic. Some of the concerns expressed are:
★ There is no way for the officiant to verify that the people being married match the identification provided.
★ Officiants cannot know that the bridal couple is actually in the state where license was issued and where the officiant is authorized to perform the ceremony.
★ The officiant needs protection from bad actors or couples who misrepresent themselves
★ There is no way of knowing who is off screen, and what are they doing. Without understanding the environment, making an affirmation of one’s own volition is called into question.
★ Officiants value and rely upon the time spent getting to know couples; losing that face-time challenges their ability to assess the couple’s willingness to marry
★ Video officiants trivialize the act of officiating marriages, much like online and temporary officiants.
There was also discussion about needing to progress with the times. If there is a possibility that video officiants become a thing, members wanted JPus to be an active participant in those discussions with decision-makers. Participants said that the conversation was valuable and that they would like to continue the conversation. So we will! In the meantime, for now, JPus believes that the officiant and couple need to be in the same space, together, live.
Recording of Zoom Discussion
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★ COVID training certification for marriage officiants
★ More support for officiants on JPus’ coronavirus landing page
★ Be a part of the coronavirus-management conversation with fellow officiants in JPus’ members-only Facebook group
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