Getting married? CONGRATULATIONS! A wedding is always an exciting event that brings families and friends together. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced couples to either postpone their wedding indefinitely or make alternative plans. However, you may still be able to get married and enjoy the exciting journey ahead of you.
Despite the Ontario government’s stay-at-home order, weddings are an exemption for leaving home, within limits of course. To ensure your marriage is legally valid, Ontario’s Marriage Act requires that the couple must have the following:
- a licence,
- an officiant and two witnesses, and
- the wedding must take place “in the presence of” the officiant and the witnesses.
The main point to note here is that in order to have a valid marriage, whether it is conducted virtually or in person, ensure the witnesses and officiant are physically present.
Despite COVID-19 causing gathering restrictions, the closure of banquet halls and event spaces, and prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants, there is still hope for you to have a little celebration! To help with the planning of your wedding during these unprecedented times, the City of Toronto has provided a guide that considers public health orders.
Below are 6 points to note when planning your wedding during COVID-19:
1. If postponing the date or a virtual wedding is not an option, you can consider an outdoor ceremony, a tented reception, a smaller indoor wedding, or even a drive-in ceremony where guests remain in their vehicles. Vehicles must remain two metres apart and can only contain members of the same household.
2. During your planning stages continue to stay informed of pandemic issues, inquire about details and ask questions to the service providers you hire for your special event, review any contracts and insurance policies for your own protection, and be mindful of COVID-19 Guidelines for Indoor & Outdoor Events & Gatherings.
3. Limit the number of guests to the following based on the type of event:
|Wedding religious service, rite, or ceremony||Wedding reception / social gatherings associated with the wedding ceremony or religious service|
|Indoor||10 people or less, including officiant/staff||
(*Exception for members of a single household or one person from outside the household of a person that lives alone.)
|Outdoor||10 people or less, including officiant/staff||5 people or less|
4. Masks are mandatory; however, the couple may remove their masks during the wedding ceremony. At all other times, a mask must be worn when indoors and when physical distancing is difficult.
- Keep guests informed of precautions you are taking and advise them of the mandatory requirement for them to wear masks prior to attending the event.
- Masks may be removed by performers when behind a physical barrier that has a window through which the music can be heard (e.g. singing or playing wind/brass instrument), or engaging in physical activity (e.g. dancing).
- Children under two years of age, people with health issues that make wearing a mask difficult, and those who are unable to put on a mask without assistance are exempted from wearing a mask.
5. A wedding is not a wedding without music. However, singing, and musical wind instruments can project respiratory droplets further than two metres and are higher risk activities. Therefore, dancing, singing and the live performance of brass or wind instruments are prohibited where food is served. The good news is that you can use pre-recorded music or virtual performances.
6. Finally, keep an attendance list for contact tracing and encourage your guests to download the COVID Alert app Opens in new window. If a guest becomes ill during the service/reception, ask them to go home and self-isolate.
If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.