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We asked wedding officiants what to expect as COVID-19 heads into 2021

Published Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 2020

The results of our Autumn 2020 COVID-19 Wedding Officiant Survey are in!


Will weddings ever return to normal? (Maybe not.) 

Can officiants reclaim their central role in the wedding industry? (Absolutely, and more!) 

What did we see that made us the most hopeful… and the most surprised? (Read on…)

We know the changes and challenges facing wedding officiants and couples - and the entire wedding industry - right now are big. There’s no getting around it — out of the 349 wedding officiants we spoke with in 47 states, only about a third said their role had stayed about the same over the last few months.



But the survey showed us something very interesting, and very hopeful: our officiants are adapting quickly. During the months since our spring survey, many officiants say that they’ve overcome new challenges in remarkable and innovative ways, ensuring their role as a vital part of modern weddings. Identifying these key challenges, and building on them, is the best place to start moving forward. 


So, first, the bad news.


Family participation is down. The majority of wedding officiants feel less involved in planning. Ceremonies are smaller, shorter, and many — up to 75% in some areas — have gone digital. Stress levels are high. Wedding budgets are shrinking. And the simple joy of connecting one on one with couples has been complicated by social distancing and conflicting safety messages, with up to 60% of officiants reporting they spend less time with their couples.

We want you to know that if you’re feeling the weight of any of these things, you aren’t alone. Officiants all over the country are dealing with these same complications and frustrations. 


This brings us to the good news.


By identifying these key challenges — low family participation, changes to ceremony formats, less time spent with couples, high stress, and smaller budgets — officiants are finding ways to best meet the changing needs of engaged couples. We’ll continue to share information on the methods some officiants are using to tackle these specific issues, including:



A powerful takeaway from this survey was how dramatically location has impacted both officiants’ and couples’ experiences of the pandemic. Not everyone is facing the same issues yet, but that might change as we head into winter.


Officiants in the Midwest and many areas of the South are less concerned about their safety or the need for social distancing than are their peers in the Northwest and Northeast. This has led to fewer immediate changes in the way weddings take place in the middle of the country. 

In those places where officiants told us that the safety of family members and friends were pressing concerns, these new obstacles were mentioned earlier and far more frequently. The most frequent were difficulty forging relationships with couples due to social distancing and conflicting safety messages, shorter ceremonies and hybrid ceremonies, and a reduction in income for both officiants and couples.


It’s worth noting that while these challenges may not have hit the Midwest states yet, it’s likely they will soon, as the winter season starts and more people head indoors. 

Although attitudes and approaches will still vary widely as we anticipate the availability of a vaccine, our findings suggest that post-pandemic weddings will continue to look different than those that came before. This suggests that the more enthusiastically we embrace changes now, and the more thoroughly we adapt to new technologies, communication approaches, and increasingly unconventional and simplified ceremonies, the better foundation wedding officiants will have not just next season, but into the next year and beyond. 


For a thorough breakdown of the responses we received, check out our Autumn 2020 COVID-19 Wedding Officiant Survey Report!





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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

Natasha Anakotta
Natasha Anakotta

Guest Contributor

Natasha is passionate about promoting marriage equality, and encouraging couples to celebrate in a way that’s authentic and unique. Aside from weddings, she enjoys Star Wars, true crime podcasts, and eating macarons by the dozen.

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