Weddings and the Coronavirus
If you are one of the many couples forced to reconsider your wedding plans due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you are probably feeling extremely disappointed, stressed and anxious right now. Not knowing when this will all end and when it will be safe to hold gatherings again can really add to this stress, but in this blog I hope to reassure you that there are still many options open to you, allowing you to celebrate your day when you planned, even if not in the way you originally intended.
The key is to think outside the box – literally – as the coronavirus regulations change daily. But before you cancel, postpone or reschedule your wedding day, here are a few options to consider.
Have a celebrant-led ceremony
If you haven’t already, why not consider contacting a celebrant about holding a wedding celebration ceremony, either on the date you originally planned or at a later date when it’s likely to be safe to hold large gatherings. With a celebrant you are free to celebrate your marriage in any way you wish, and you can then take care of the legal formalities separately with a registrar either before or after the big day.
When using a celebrant, right away you leap outside the box and open up all kinds of possibilities. Doing things this way gives you the option to hold your ceremony anywhere you wish – even in your own home or garden. There’s no need to be concerned about whether premises are licensed because you won’t be doing the legalities at that time, but you will get the ceremony you want, including any words, rituals and readings you choose.
Depending on the date you go with, you may want to think about limiting the number of people you invite. The UK Government is currently enforcing social distancing measures (as at end of May 2020), and these are likely to be relaxed gradually over time rather than all at once. Therefore the closer your wedding date, the smaller your numbers will probably have to be. People who find themselves ‘uninvited’ would hopefully be very understanding, and you could always hold a big celebration later on when the situation is clearer.
Hold a virtual ceremony
If your wedding date is in the very near future and likely to fall within the social distancing period, you may choose to go ahead on your original date and hold the ceremony (or even the whole occasion) in cyberspace! You could do this through Zoom, Skype or another virtual meeting platform. If you’d like to postpone the big celebration then you could hold a virtual ‘microceremony’ online, with a celebrant overseeing the two of you making your vows to one another on the day you intended. Or you could make it a bigger virtual occasion to include as many people as possible from your guest list.
I’ve conducted several weddings this way; through the wonders of the internet and some tech-savvy couples, we found ways for everyone who could not be there in person to be present at the ceremony. You can choose to have your cyber guests simply as spectators, or they can participate as they would have done if they’d been there in person, e.g. contributing readings or saying blessings. Your celebrant will be happy to prepare participants in advance and cue them in at the appropriate moment.
At the end of the ceremony, depending on the platform you’re using, you could even have a virtual receiving line so your friends and family can congratulate you and write or say some special words to you, even though they can’t hug you in person.
Have an outdoor ceremony
The great outdoors never closes its doors completely! So even if indoor venues and licensed premises are having to close, your ceremony may still be able to go ahead. Might it be possible to shift to an outdoor location for a ceremony, blessing or ritual to celebrate your marriage?
You could start your fresh thinking by contacting your venue to see if they have a garden you could use instead of the indoor space, explaining that if you have a celebrant-led ceremony then the space does not even need to be licensed. If the venue is open to that option then you can go ahead and hold your ceremony there. Of course you would still be bound by whatever rules were in place at that time regarding social gatherings.
The best thing about an outdoor ceremony is that you can hold it pretty much anywhere you like, as long as you have the landowner’s permission – in a garden, field, woodland, park, beach, up a mountain, by a lake… you name it! And if you choose to celebrate in your own garden there’s the added bonus of no venue hire fee. The ceremony can be large or small, and you can probably arrange it at reasonably short notice depending on where and when you hold it.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you reach out to friends, family and wedding professionals of every kind for help and advice (even if this is only possible virtually). Make the most of the spirit of goodwill; of people wanting to help each other and make things possible. When one door closes, another opens – it might just be to the great outdoors.
Flexibility really is key at this time, so be open to ideas about date, place, time, size and form of ceremony. The most important thing is the commitment you have chosen to make to one another, so keep this at the forefront of your minds and follow your hearts – whether that leads you to postponing the entire wedding, moving everything online, changing location or holding two separate ceremonies. If you put your imagination to work, you can – literally – save the day!