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Getting married during a pandemic

Get the legalities out of the way, and save the romance for another day.

This guest post is written by marriage celebrant Heidi Robertson.

If you told me 12 months ago that all my weddings would shortly be postponed or cancelled due to a global pandemic, my jaw would have dropped, hit the ground, and buried itself.

I’m a civil marriage celebrant in Byron Bay, Australiathe easternmost point in the country and a destination hotspot for backpackers with no money, millionaires with plenty, and people searching for the meaning of life and lovers wanting to get hitched in paradise.

Much of our economy here is heavily reliant on the tourism and wedding industries. Couples mostly plan their destination weddings months in advance; so when Covid19 hit, weddings had been booked, deposits paid, flights organised, and suppliers like venues, caterers, florists, photographers and celebrants already lined up.

In early March of 2020, the emails and phone calls started coming in. Couples were cancelling. There were tears (from both couples and suppliers!) and uncertainty all roundI couldn’t give anyone any answers as to whether their wedding in October would be going ahead with 150 guests.

Weddings are emotional events. People want to hug and kiss, get drunk and let loose on the dance floor (which is discouraged during a pandemic).

The romance is kind of dampened when there is hand sanitiser everywhere you look, or the waiters carrying trays of champagne are wearing disposable gloves. Newly married couples are expected to forgo their first kiss and instead air kiss, or bump elbows or bums.

The legalities are a small part of a wedding ceremony

In Australia, once the pre-marriage paperwork is done, you are married after the celebrant says about 75 words and the couple say their legal vows. Then the last bit of paperwork is signed. This is not what makes the day memorable. The memorable bit is the love contained within the ceremony. It’s the words spoken by the celebrant telling the story of the couple. It’s the personal vows and ring exchanges. It’s being surrounded by the people who love you the most, witnessing this transformational moment in your lives. You can get the legalities out of the way, and save the wedding with all those important bits for later.

Alternative ways to get married during a pandemic:

  • Live-stream an elopement to loved ones

  • Get hitched on the beach at sunset with just your two witnesses

  • Have a hot air balloon wedding

  • Go horseback on the beach

  • Say 'I do!" while skydiving

You can still have a small, intimate, memorable elopement, and look forward to the big bash later just without those 125 legal words that have already been said.

Heidi Robertson is a Byron Bay marriage celebrant with ten years of experience. Find out more about her here.

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