Updated November 20, 2020
When something big happens, we come together. To celebrate. To grieve. To share. To hug and laugh and cry. And sometimes to eat donuts and take goofy pictures. But all those things are up in the air right now, thanks to this pandemic.
What to do? What to do?
In my case, it’s keeping on top of what’s going on. Holding hands with my people as we figure out new ways to come together. Because reverse only happens in automobiles (and the odd Kitchenaid appliance). Life moves forward.
So here are some things I know and some questions that may help you get some clarity.
Here in BC, we have a 4 stage recovery program
Phase 4 will be when full-scale weddings are allowed again but that will be “Conditional on at least one of: wide vaccination; “community” immunity; broad successful treatments.”
On Nov. 19, the province announced a public health order that said residents need to avoid non-essential travel into and out of the province. The order is in effect until Dec. 7 for sure.
Here is a is a synopsis.
From that report: “Funerals, weddings, baptisms and other similar events may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 10 people attend, including the officiant. There should be no receptions of any kind inside or outside in any venue including homes or community-based venues.”
And in more detail, the most recent guidelines.
At private residences, a maximum of 6 guests beyond the occupants of the premises. More details on page 5 of the above document.
Do you have guests travelling?
This chart from a April 29 Destination BC presentation about when travel restrictions may be lifted.
I haven’t seen anything like this that is more recent. However, this may help.
Protecting the Vulnerable
No matter what happens, the most vulnerable segments of the population are those over age 60 (and it increases with age), and the immunocompromised of all ages. Many will either not be able to attend or will opt out of attending group events, and that number will increase with group size. Those who live who the vulnerable may also self-isolate.
Ok so a huge wedding splash is not an option…what else? Some ideas about what my couples are opting to do (and why)
1. Postpone, postpone
If you have guests travelling from outside BC/Canada, people you simply can’t imagine being married without, then put everything on hold. Remember that the original 50 person limit may still be in force in 2021 and into 2022, conditional on at least one of the following: “wide vaccination, “community” immunity, broad successful treatments.” (This is Phase 4, timing depends upon how well the previous stages go.) If the worst-case scenario in the chart above comes true, then there may not be a lot of international travel next year. So take some time and figure out who your non-negotiable people are and talk to them about travel and their comfort with it. And consider some live streaming for people who are not willing or able to travel post-pandemic. Look at 2022…there will be more Saturdays open, if that’s your choice (2021 Saturdays are pretty full and the most popular venues/photographers/videographers/officiants are booked already.)
2. Elope Now (Party Later)
Quite a few of my 2020 couples who initially postponed, ultimately pivoted into elopement. They were starting families, buying homes, and just generally getting on with life. But that doesn’t mean taking the “nobody is coming so let’s just rubber stamp it” route. Make it REALLY special. Take some of that wedding stash and really treat yourself to something you may have dreamed of (but couldn’t do with 50++ people.) (think…what would the perfect day look like? what have you always wanted to do? what did you do on your first date?) More inspiration here.
You can even tie together the 2 dates if you wish (my couples are telling me that they don’t just want a party later, they want the walk down the aisle, the wedding party, the chance to not miss out on a moment of big love.) So for example, we’re doing some pretty cool handfastings (either legal or symbolic) this year, and next year they will finally “tie the knot.”
3. Downscale to a tiny wedding
The wedding industry has just discovered “microweddings”, but I’ve been doing them for years…:) There’s something very special about an intimate celebration with your closest people. The energy is totally different, you have more time to relax and be present with them. They tend to be relaxed and real. And fairly easy to pull together…on short notice. And if you want, you can still add the big party later.
Just as with an elopement, there are ways to tie the 2 dates together so things feel more seamless and real. Here’s a bit of inspiration.
4. Head toward that 50 person target at a certified venue
Sorry, as of Nov 19, it’s not an option. But it may be back in 2021.
According to Dr Bonnie Henry, the largest threat in a 50 person gathering is when everyone is together celebrating, and the Ministry of Health would prefer weddings of this size to be cancelled until further notice.
If you want to go ahead anyway, it must be held at a venue where proper protocols will be followed, social distancing rules obeyed.
Just know, that despite all this uncertainty, life will go forward and what will happen for you will be a beautiful thing, even if it is different from what you originally envisioned. Hold hands with your vendors and let us help you make it so.
Given the requests I’ve received, there could well be a shortage of officiants on prime Saturday afternoons in 2021. So I created this post to give you a broader scope of who can marry you.
Memorials and Celebrations of Life
We come together, to remember, and to say goodbye. It’s what we do in times of loss. We mourn better together than apart. So then what happens when you can’t be together?
I firmly believe (and the folks I am serving are discovering) that Co-vid, while on one hand devastating, also has its gifts. It’s teaching us the lost art of grieving. And it’s helping us to learn that saying good-bye is a process. That event planning is only a small part of it. And that there are a myriad of ways that are even better that what we’ve been doing.
There are ways to come together and remember. To tell stories. To listen and remember. And along the way, to actually create a real and honest tribute that may be more personal, more real, more memorable than you ever imagined pre-co-vid. Because now you have the time to. And everyone can come out of the process stronger. I can help you, whether it’s a zoom storytelling session or mapping out a really fitting way to honour a life now and in the future when you can come together.
In the meantime, my colleague Linda Stuart has co-written a wonderful article with ritual ideas to stay connected.
And from another colleague, the gifted Danna Schmidt, a must-read about grief in these days.
People often celebrate with hugs. And if you are a hugger (like me), a celebration doesn’t feel great without them. But…there are ways to do powerful work without personal contact. More on this in my CHLY radio interview from May 18, 2020 (link coming).