| Wedding Ceremony | Wedding
a marriage celebrant, a big part of how I see my
role is about thinking ahead, asking the What If
questions, teasing out the possibilities and
probabilities, and coming up with ways to address
issues should they arise, so that I'm not caught on
the back foot and can give my couples some
well-considered advice. 2020 has really tested that
to the nth degree!
This time last year, the idea of a masked wedding
conjured up ideas of a Venetian Carnival theme or a
masked ball. Fast forward to mid-2020 and the
picture is very different. With COVID-19 compulsory
mask-wearing anytime you leave your own home very
definitely on the agenda, it is time to do some
forward planning and prepare to rock a mask on your
wedding day if you are required to wear one. But
first, some practicalities.
What are the legal
If your State's Health Directive says you must wear
a mask, then you must do so. No question about it.
But what about the legality of getting married when
you and your witnesses are all wearing masks? Simple
answer. Wearing a mask will not
the legality of your marriage. In fact, the legal
requirements for the two of you in the ceremony say
nothing about face covering. They are very
- You must both be marrying freely and willingly
- You must make "legal" vows, the statement in
which each of you says that you take the other
as your lawful wedded husband/wife/spouse/partner-in-marriage
Your celebrant, together with everyone present,
must hear you say those vows. They should
obviously be confident about your identity, but
that is officially done by the ID paperwork you
What about the
The bottom line is that, unless and until a
directive about mask wearing is issued, we won't
know what the detail of the directive might be and
how it might specifically relate to your wedding.
What we do know, from experience in Victoria and
overseas, is that
- The definition of public place can be very
- Venues may well require their staff to wear
masks at all times, regardless of the detail of
any directive, and, even where there is no
specific directive, to require, or at least
strongly request, that anyone who enters wears a
- Whether you must wear a mask will depend on
the precise wording of the directive, together
with where your ceremony will take place and
where your reception/celebration will be held.
We also know that very little advance warning will
Let's assume you will have
to wear masks for the whole ceremony
If a directive about wearing masks is current at the
time of your wedding and you will have to wear masks
for the whole ceremony, you will need to ask
yourselves three questions, and come up with a plan
for each of them.
- How will we have photos taken without our
- How will we manage our first kiss?
- What sort of masks will we wear?
Ways to have photos taken
Commonly, directives about wearing masks have
required that you put on a mask when you leave your
own home, so the apparently simple answer is get
married at home. Except, of course, if there is also
a directive in place that forbids or limits
If you are getting married someplace other than
home, here are some ways to at least get some photos
- Do a first look
The tradition of the couple spending
the night before their wedding apart and not
seeing one another (or specifically, a groom not
seeing his bride) until the ceremony, is based
largely on superstition that grew out of earlier
tradition where parents married off/traded their
children in marriage to secure strategic
alliances and economic and political advantage.
The superstition being that it is bad luck
(because the groom might reject the marriage).
It is a superstition that has lingered but is
disappearing as living together before marriage
has become the norm.
- Have formal family and couple photos taken
at home before you leave for the
- Ascertain whether there is a private room
at your venue that you can use for formal
It may be allowable to remove your masks
while in that space, but you should check with
Your first kiss
This is a tricky one. While there is no legal
requirement for a couple to
kiss on being declared married,
it is a tradition that is so entrenched that
everyone will feel short-changed if you don't.
Again, it depends on what, if any, special
dispensations are given for weddings. Worst case
scenario. Make it a fun moment. Kiss through your
masks. Definitely get some photos of you doing that.
And save the lip on lip contact for a private moment
What sort of masks?
You need to look for three things in the masks you
- They should adequately do the job of stopping
transmission of COVID-19
- They should be comfortable to wear
- They should look good
Google "bridal masks" and you will get an
unbelievable number of hits. The US market jumped
on the opportunity, and for some time now bridal
houses, fashion designers, and other manufacturers
have been churning out masks for brides by the
truck-load. Some look great, some are downright
kitsch, and some will have you shaking your head.
Most have a disclaimer attached that they are a
fashion item, not a medical one.
If you are caught on the hop with a very short
time to source your masks, you are likely to end
up with surgical masks or disposable masks that
look anything but formal and bridal. I'm
specifically using the word "bridal" here, because
grooms are almost ignored. Seemingly, plain black
or black with either groom or hubby embroidered on
it, is about as much choice as they are offered.
For brides, it appears that lace is the go. Here
is where practical celebrant me kicks in. Whether
you opt for disposable or reusable masks you are
going to need several because once a mask becomes
damp you need to change it for a new, dry one. And
the very fancy bridal masks that are commercially
available are pricey.
- Choose plain white or neutral masks and
embellish them yourself
There are so many different possibilities for
- Lace - by the meter or as separate motifs in
different sizes and colours
- Strings of pearl beads, both round and
- iron on embroidered motifs
So as not to compromise the protective
qualities of your mask, glue any decorations onto
the mask rather than sew them on. A hot glue gun,
or spray on fabric glue will be your best friend.
Avoid either satin masks or satin decorations, and
go easy on the sequins. You don't want photos with
a flash flare! If your dress is off-white, ivory,
cream, or latte, either dye the masks to match (if
you can wash them you can dye them), use the old
trick of soaking in weak tea or coffee, or go
heavy on the decoration using dyed lace.
- Go for plain with a pop of colour
Treat your masks like an accessory. Pick up a
colour from your flowers, your ceremony decor,
or opt for something blue for a fashion
forward pop of colour.
- Echo your bouquet with a floral
- Give a nod to your cultural history
Your family tartan, sari fabric, traditional
bark cloth or mud print, or a red mask
embroidered with a double happiness character,
- For a couture option ask your
dressmaker/designer to make you several masks
with the offcuts from your dress.
- Ask your dressmaker/designer to make you
some single layer masks
And wear a disposable surgical mask under
the mask cover.
- Check with your bridal boutique
They are sure to be adding masks to their stock.
If you really fall in love with a mask that looks
good but doesn't do much to protect you and
others, wear it over a disposable surgical mask.
All of the above suggestions will work for
bridesmaids and for your mothers.
One word of caution, though. The brighter and more
"interesting" your mask, the more it will compete
with your eyes for attention.
What about the groom?
Yes, I know it feels like black, or maybe navy, are
the only options for men, but they are not.
- Coordinate the mask with tie,
pocket square, and/or boutonniere
- Have masks made to match the tie or
- Match masks with the bridesmaids colours
- Express personality or interests with the
Grooms can get away with much more than can a
bride. So if he wants to wear a Holden mask, go
What about your celebrant?
There has been some discussion about whether the
celebrant's role in conducting a legal ceremony
meets the criteria for exemption from wearing a mask
for the ceremony while needing to wear a mask for
the signing. I'm assuming that, if you have to wear
a mask, so do I. I definitely will not turn up
wearing a Hello Kitty
mask or anything that
is attention seeking. The way I see it, masks are
the new black! So I will make sure that my mask is
as understated and elegant as the rest of my outfit,
and that it won't stand out in any photos.
Thanks for reading!