Today I should have been heading into Houghton Bay, Wellington to conduct the wedding ceremony of a beautiful young couple from Otaki. They, like a number of other couples I have been working with, have had to postpone their wedding. When the international borders started to lock down, their wedding was hugely impacted as close family from overseas would not be able to attend.
COVID 19 has changed the world as we know it and who knows what the "new normal" will look like or when we might get there.
I did offer all the couples who have postponed a small legal only ceremony pre-lock down to be followed by the full works post lock down, but they all chose to defer.
These events have been so disappointing for the couples. They have put their heart, hopes and dreams into planning their special day. They have waited not only for this celebration of their love and of making the legal commitment to each other in marriage but for also getting to share all of this with the important people in their lives.
But putting it into perspective is also important. Firstly, its a crappy, windy and wet Wellington day so today's couple can hope for better weather when they reschedule! Secondly for all the couples who have postponed - you will have your day, you still have each other and your love for one another and by following the lock down rules you are playing a huge role in stopping the spread of this terrible pandemic.
A little advice if its helpful:
If you have had to postpone due to COVID 19 you can get a refund for your marriage licence as long as you apply for the refund during the valid period of your licence which is 3 months.
Simply send an email to bdm.nz.govt.nz and head your email : Request for marriage licence refund.
Provide both parties full names and address and the reason you are requesting the refund.
When its closer to the time for your wedding to proceed, you can apply again.
Check your contractual agreements with vendors before contacting them. I am hearing on the grapevine that most vendors are really happy to renegotiate a new date at no extra costs as long as they have not incurred costs already. For example if your cake maker had your cake ready to go and you postponed, the cake maker has still incurred expenses in ingredients,power,staff costs and time so it would be unreasonable to expect them to refund your money or provide a new cake on your new date at no additional cost. If however you, had paid a deposit for the cake and the cake maker had not incurred any costs and was refusing to allow you to change your date and refund your deposit, well that would seem a little mean spirited!
While this is how we make a living, most of us recognise that these are unprecedented times and irrespective of what our contracts say we want to be responsive.
For the couples I am working with, we are negotiating new dates and I'm really flexible about that as long as your new preferred date has not already been booked.
Can we get married now?
Level 4 has specific rules and unless you are all in the same bubble - celebrant, 2 witnesses and couple getting married then weddings should not be going ahead.
The Prime Minister announced this week that under Level 3 which is the next step down level, couples may get married as long as there are no more than 10 people present - this includes the Bride and Groom, guests, and any vendors such as the celebrant and photographer.
In addition, under Level 3, there is to be no reception or serving of food and drinks and the rules of good hygiene and social distancing need to be applied.
A Virtual Celebration
The reality is that it will be some time before we can travel freely throughout New Zealand and even longer still until international borders are open. If you have important people who cannot attend in person, how about organising to live stream the wedding? I'm a celebrant, not a tech expert, but I do know that there are some fairly easy to use options available for live streaming and actually asking a young person or tech savvy friend is a great place to start.
For free options check out Facebook Live, Instagram Live and YouTube Live.
You can use a smartphone or tablet or laptop.
A few hints though:
While we are at the tail end of wedding season, there are still a large number of weddings that have had to be postponed across the country. If you have not rescheduled - please do not leave it too long as your vendors will be trying to fit you in along with those couples getting married in the 20/21 wedding season.
To my existing couples, I hope you will do something special on the original date to celebrate your love. Don't forget to keep in touch as the situation we are in continues to evolve. For those of you who don't have a booking who might be interested in meeting with me, I am available via Facebook messenger, Zoom, or Microsoft Meetings. There is absolutely no obligation and I wont be offended if you do not choose me -its so important we click as we will work together to create your ceremony.
Stay safe and well