This script suggests many helpful coronavirus precautions, but should not be used as your only reference for safety while planning your wedding ceremony. Read your local public health guidelines and restrictions along with venue-specific rules, and follow their policies regarding gathering size, social distancing rules, and duration.
A little extra attention to set up and preparation will make your wedding feel safe and filled with love. Scroll down for the Procession and Invocation.
Whenever possible, plan to hold your wedding outside. In colder months, heat lamps or traditional celebratory bonfires can create a warm and festive space. If setting up outdoors isn't possible, choose a venue with large windows and doors that can be opened to allow for ample ventilation.
Advise guests to bring their fanciest, most stylish muffs, capes, cowls, brushed velvet, and faux-fur glamor.
At the entrance to the ceremony space, place decorated pumps of hand sanitizer and single use surgical masks (or individually pre-packaged decorative cloth masks) for guests who don't have their own, or to offer as a wedding keepsake. You may choose to offer a welcome bag for each guest with a personal travel sized bottle of sanitizer, bottle of water, and hand warmers.
Set chairs a minimum of six feet apart for guests not arriving from the same household. Households can be seated together. Consider using several small event tents (without walls to allow for visibility) to keep guests covered.
Arrange candles or lanterns around each tent or seating group, and along the path/aisle to mark the way to the front. At the center of the ceremony space, where the couple will say their vows, arrange vases of fresh or cut paper flowers, and brightly colored decorations.
Plan for the officiant to stand to the side of the couple, a minimum of six feet away. Mark the ground with candles to remind each person of a safe distance during the ceremony. Surround the spot where each will stand with flowers or colorful paper streamers to create a sense of intimacy and connectedness. We recommend limiting your wedding party to two other people, or fewer, who can easily maintain a safe distance.
Place a small table next to where the couple will stand, to hold the notecards with their vows and their wedding bands.
If microphones are used: For standing mics, bring disposable mic coverings to change between each reader. Handheld mics should not be passed from person to person without being wiped down with a sanitizing wipe and changing the mic covering. You may choose to use separate mics.
If some guests are attending remotely or virtually over Zoom, Skype, or other livestream platform, a computer can be set up facing the ceremony stage. Set this up ahead of time to make sure everyone stays 'in frame'. Assign a guest to welcome and keep track of online guests throughout the ceremony.
This is the beginning of the Wedding Ceremony. Guests are seated in their household groups or individual seats, followed by the entrance of the wedding party. The couple may choose to enter together, or one at a time. If a socially-distanced aisle is difficult to create with guests spread out, the couple may choose to maximize safety by starting the wedding already standing at the front, or entering from the side.
The officiant welcomes the guests and introduces the couple, and explains the purpose of the gathering*. They'll share words on the significance of this era, and of the day's testament to the couple's love, having stayed committed to one another during the challenges of the pandemic. They may also speak about these challenges, changes in wedding plans, or other personal stories related to the time.
If some guests are attending virtually, the officiant can add a sentence or two welcoming them specifically to the event.
*This can be changed to reflect a commitment ceremony, engagement or betrothal celebration, or vow renewal ceremony.
Officiant to the Reception
"Welcome everyone, to the wedding ceremony of [PARTNER A] and [PARTNER B].
Let's take a moment to feel the connection and warmth in this space -- a closeness that can't be obscured by any amount of distance or precaution.
We've come here today to celebrate the most intimate of bonds between two people, marriage, during one of the most unique moments in history.
You aren't just guests at a wedding, but the closest and dearest people to these two -- the friends and family that hold them up and help them face any challenge.
(Whether you're here in-person or joining us virtually,) We are so happy that you were able to make it here today, to witness and honor the love that [PARTNER A] and [PARTNER B] share."
The officiant talks about the staying-power and healing nature of love, gives the couple a blessing, or offers a few secular words on the importance of partnership and the hope for continued joy and health together. The officiant might talk about how the couple met, what their life together has been like, and what the meaning of partnership or marriage means to them.
Covid-safe: During this portion of the ceremony, it's important that the couple already have their vow notecards and rings with them, to keep friends and family from moving too close while handing them over, and to limit shared-contact surfaces. These can be kept in suit or dress pockets, or on a small table next to the couple, ready to go.
The officiant tells the guests that the couple have written personal vows (or poetry, or music … something instrumental to avoid indoor singing) to share as they exchange rings, and then motions to each partner in turn. Each partner will share what they've prepared.
Officiant to the couple
"[PARTNER A] and [PARTNER A] you've chosen to write your own vows. It's with these words you express your promise to love, honor, and cherish one another as you exchange rings.
If you are ready to make these promises to each other, here in front of your closest friends and family, I ask you to face each other and declare your intentions."
partner a to partner b
partner b to partner a
Covid-safe: To maintain a safe distance and limit the passing of handheld mics, guests are asked to speak from where they are sitting. They can stand to address the couple. If an outdoor setting will make it hard to hear what's said, a standing mic can be placed in the center of the space. All speakers should keep their mask on while using any shared mics.
The officiant now gives the guests an opportunity to stand and share their own blessings for the couple.
Officiant to the Reception
"We invite each of you to contribute to this beautiful union now! If you wish, please stand and say a few words to this beautiful, strong couple.
Let these small blessings, one by one, remind the couple of their place within this close community, of the support and love of the group they've created around themselves. For each new challenge, and each new joy, let them remember. Would anyone like to stand and speak?"
The officiant officially declares the couple to be married (or engaged, committed, bound).
Officiant to the Couple and Reception
"And now [PARTNER A] and [PARTNER B] , in the glow of this close group's love and your devotion I pronounce you bound in love! (Married, united, etc.) You may kiss!"
Covid-safe: Guests should leave in an orderly fashion, by household. Masks should be worn whenever guests are close to one another. They can wave goodbye to the happy couple from a safe distance or tap elbows or feet. Hugs and cheek-kisses should be saved for another day.
The officiant should provide sanitizing wipes if they'll be sharing a pen with the couple to sign the marriage license.
If shared public restrooms are used, all guests should keep masks on while in the restroom. Trips should be kept as short as possible, and hands should be washed thoroughly and dried with disposable towels. Hand sanitizer can be set up at the entrance of every restroom for use before and after using the shared facilities.
If held at a private residence, backyard, or park, all chairs should be wiped down after use, along with any shared-surfaces (including table tops, mics, binders, tents, candle holders and lanterns, vases, and other surfaces).