We are more than 5 months into dealing with and living with Covid19. This crisis has disrupted lives, businesses, schools and society as a whole. As people are trying to plan their weddings, so much is up in the air and uncertain. It all really casts a huge shadow over the entire process, creating stress for everyone involved.
Yesterday, our governor extended the Phase 2 opening for another 3 weeks. While many had hoped to open up our society a bit more by increasing the sizes of gatherings and what businesses can open, the numbers did not support that decision according to Gov. Cooper.
What does all of this mean to those of us in the wedding industry and what does it mean to those trying to plan for one of the happiest days of their lives and often the biggest party they will ever hold?
So, how do the Executive Orders issued by Governor Cooper impact us as wedding officiants and your wedding. Let’s start by reviewing the Executive Orders 147 and 141. You can view Executive Order 147 at this link. This order describes face coverings/mask. It tells when they are required and when they are not. This order encourages the use of masks in most situations. There are exceptions given in the order. So that we are complying, as well as to continue to protect ourselves, we will always be masked at any gathering. If the couple wants us to present their ceremony with our mask on, we will certainly do so and actually prefer it. For those who do not want the mask on during the ceremony, we will remove our mask in order to present their ceremony. This removal will happen immediately prior to making our entrance into the ceremony space and we will replace the mask as soon as we exit the ceremony space, prior to beginning signing documentation. We will ask that anyone signing the documents also be masked since maintaining the safe physical distance of 6 feet between them and us is impossible. We encourage couples to encourage all guests to be masked except when eating or drinking, in order to provide protection to all in attendance. You can do this by providing disposable masks for everyone, including statements on your website and in any communication with guest encouraging them to bring their own masks.
We understand that for many couples all the restrictions in place have altered greatly their dreams of what their wedding day will look like. We hope that all couples understand the importance of following the Executive Orders currently in place. Take time to read them and process what it means for your situation. Currently we are operating under orders which limit the size of gatherings. Executive Order 141 is very clear in this issue. Section 7 of that order clearly states:
For the reasons and pursuant to the authority set forth above, the undersigned orders as follows:
- “Prohibition on Mass Gatherings.
I. Prohibition. Mass Gatherings are prohibited. “Mass Gathering” means an event or convening that brings together more than ten ( 10) people indoors or more than twenty-five (25) people outdoors at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, or meeting hall. This includes parades, fairs, and festivals. In publicly accessible indoor facilities, the Mass Gathering limit applies per room of the facility. A household where more than ten (10) people reside is not a Mass Gathering.
The outdoor Mass Gathering limit of twenty-five (25) people applies to groups of people that may gather together in a park, and on a beach or trail.”
In a clarifying document it is stated that the wedding ceremony is protected under First Amendment rights and is not subjected to the gathering limits. And it clarifies what is considered to be excluded from the gathering size as well as what is not excluded. This FAQ is very clear in the intentions:
“Are weddings and funerals allowed to be held in Phase 2?
Yes. Even though there is no mass gathering cap on the people who may attend a wedding or funeral ceremony, receptions or visitations before or after weddings and funerals are subject to the mass gathering limit. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19”
Section 8 of the Executive Order 141 also states what businesses are expressly prohibited from opening. That section very clearly states “• Venues for Receptions or Parties”
Wedding professionals have to work within the parameters laid out by our governor and the current situation. While we wish we could stretch definitions, situations and find ways around these requirements, it is important to remember we are business entities. We can be held accountable by the government for violating these rules and regulations. If a business has a liquor license and is caught in violation, they can permanently lose their license to serve alcohol. A business that has to hold special licensure by the state has agreed to operate within the laws and regulations. If found in violation, they can lose that licensure and be shut down. They can also be held accountable by any professional organization that has a code of ethics requiring legal operation of the business. Businesses also can lose their insurance, since that only covers them if they are operating lawfully. This includes workers comp as well as liability insurance. Therefore, when a business is asked to operate outside the bounds of what is legally allowed, they are being asked to put their entire business at risk. So, when you are told by a wedding professional that they can not meet your request, please know it is because they must protect the ability to continue to meet the needs of all future clients by not jeopardizing their business. They truly want to be able to safely and legally provide you with the best wedding day experience possible. Please remember that things are changing day by day, sometime hour by hour, and we are all having to adjust as new orders come down, new knowledge is gathered and we all work to find ways to work together.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us about how together we can help make the ceremony all you want and how we can work with your other wedding professionals to make the rest of your day beautiful, unique, safe and legal.