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New restrictions on wedding ceremonies and receptions in Washington State

Published Monday, Nov. 16th, 2020

Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP

Only a month after restrictions over indoor celebrations began to loosen in our organization’s home state of Washington, wedding receptions and ceremonies are once again facing new limitations. Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced late Sunday morning that wedding receptions will be prohibited for a minimum of four weeks, until at least December 14th, and in-person ceremonies will be limited to 30 people or fewer. 


These preventative steps are necessary to best protect our friends and neighbors, and as a Seattle-based organization, we’re eager to work together to reduce the spread of infection in our area. But like most people around the country, watching the rise in COVID-19 cases and the resulting impact on individuals, families, and small businesses is hard. These new restrictions, similar to those being put in place in many other states, serve as an important reminder that we’ve still got a long way to go before things fully return to normal. 


(Until then, we have a lot of suggestions for ways to keep weddings joyful and intimate in the meantime... Find a few of our favorite recommendations linked at the end of this article!) 


We miss a good party as much as the rest of you! But a cautious approach now means a quicker return to the carefree hugging, dancing, and large-table feasting that so many of us associate with weddings. 


With that in mind, here’s a summary of the changes going into effect at midnight on November 16th that will most impact wedding parties and celebrations:


  • Wedding ceremonies are limited to 30 people or less.
  • Wedding receptions or similar indoor gatherings in conjunction with wedding ceremonies are prohibited. 
  • All indoor social gatherings with people from outside your household are prohibited unless they (a) quarantine for fourteen days (14) prior to the social gathering; or (b) quarantine for seven (7) days prior to the social gathering and receive a negative COVID19 test result no more than 48-hours prior to the gathering. This includes bachelorette/bachelor parties, engagement parties, and couples’ showers.
    * A household is defined as individuals residing in the same domicile.
  • Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 5 people from outside your household.
  • Business meetings are prohibited. 
  • Restaurants and bars are closed to indoor dine-in service beginning November 18th, but will offer take-out and outdoor dining, with outdoor seating limited to 5 people per table.

As announced earlier in the pandemic, guests at outdoor gatherings that can’t ensure physical distancing, or that take place in a public setting, are required to wear masks. We encourage couples to check the rules closely if they’re hoping to have indoor singing, musicians, or choirs perform as part of their ceremony, as this may also be prohibited.



For a closer look at the updated restrictions in Washington State, head here


While these changes, like those happening across the country, will certainly complicate wedding planning over the next few weeks, we’ve seen firsthand how resilient, creative (and lovingly stubborn) couples can be. Officiants are refining new ways to connect and serve, families are finding inventive ways to come together, and couples are embracing increasingly unconventional ceremonies and venues that keep their families and friends safe. 


Here are a few tools to help you adjust, along with some of our favorite examples of how love and weddings are adapting to the times:


The more the merrier! Why hybrid weddings are a good idea


7 Tips for a Stress-Free & Socially Distanced Wedding Ceremony


Butt-bumps and gift baskets, 6 ways friends and family can keep their distance while showering a newly-wed couple with love


The Wedding Officiant's Guide to Planning a Minimony


Exorcisms, Flus, and Flat Tires: Backup Officiants are Essential, Especially in 2020

Lewis King
Lewis King

Lewis is AMM's executive director. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling, restocking the sparkling water, and watering the office plants.

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