Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): What if you need to postpone or reschedule your ceremony?

 
  • Updated 24 March
    Effective immediately, weddings restricted to 5 people - couple, celebrant, and 2 witnesses. The banning of house parties, social events in a private home, being considered by individual states and territories
  • Updated 23 March
  • Updated 17 March 2020 with the addition of information on My Duty of Care and Public Health Safety Responsibilities )
  • Original dated 13 March 2020
To my lovely clients, and those contemplating booking my services as your celebrant, it has always been my habit to think ahead and have a really comprehensive Plan B in order that I can deliver the absolute best for you, so this note is to assure you of my flexibility and understanding in the current rapidly changing situation with COVID-19.

The situation in Australia regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and health, social distancing, and social isolation is an unfolding one. And naturally, those of you who have booked weddings, namings, vow renewals or other ceremonies with me, or are contemplating doing so, may be anxious as to what might happen if bans on travel or gatherings, impact your ceremony and your ceremony cannot go ahead as planned.

Travel bans, venue closure and strict restrictions on numbers are now in place (23 March 2020). At this stage, there are no changes to what a Celebrant must do, or the way we operate in compliance with the Marriage Act, however, we are required to abide by the law of both the Commonwealth and of the state in which the marriage takes place (in my case, Queensland), and any requirements of the Queenland Registry Office.

Rescheduling your ceremony

 
My Terms and Conditions have always included the capacity to reschedule the time/date of your ceremony at a negotiated fee, which I've routinely waived for first rescheduling or when circumstances were beyond your control. This will not change, but, in the light of current ,let me clarify and expand on how I will work with you in the current circumstances
  • If you wish to, or need to, change your ceremony date and/or time, there will be no charge
  • Fees paid will be retained and applied to the rescheduled ceremony
  • Any increase in my fees during the interim period will not apply to your rescheduled ceremony, so there will be no additional fee for your new date

Meetings and Paperwork

 
If you are getting married, we are fortunate in that changes to requirements regarding lodging of the Notice of Intended Marriage and showing your celebrant required ID documentation have been broadened over recent years to allow electronic transmission. So it is possible to lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage without a face-to-face meeting with your celebrant.
  • Your signatures on your Notice do have to be witnessed, however, so if not by your celebrant, by a Justice of the Peace, Police Officer, Solicitor, Barrister, GP or specialist doctor.
  • In situations where one of you is unavailable to sign because that person is overseas, it is legal to lodge the Notice with one signature only. I can see no reason why that should not be applied if one of you is in quarantine!
  • Once witnessed, you can scan the Notice and email it to your celebrant.
  • You can also send scans of birth certificate or passport as proof of your birth, and of divorce or death certificates as proof that you are free to marry

There are no legal requirements for paperwork for any other type of ceremony.

  • Booking Forms can be sent by email
  • We can "meet" on the phone or using FaceTime.
  • All planning can be done via email and phone. So there is no reason not to go ahead with planning a ceremony later in the year or next year.

What I'm doing to limit my exposure to the virus

 
Both for my own protection, and to minimise the chance that I might be quarantined, I have been limiting my exposure as far as possible. Put simply, this means
  • I'm avoiding activities where I might be in contact with a large number of people - so no cinema or theatre visits, no attendance at festivals, markets, etc. This has been in place since January.
  • I am voluntarily isolating myself as much as possible, so not going out unless absolutely necessary.
  • I'm shopping only in smaller, local shopping centres and stores
  • I'm keeping my distance from other people in public places as far as possible, washing my hands thoroughly and often, and trying my best to avoid touching my face when I'm out and about
  • I'm asking anyone who comes to meet with me to cancel or postpone our meeting if they have any symptoms whatsoever, or if they have been in contact with anyone who has symptoms or who, while symptom-free, has recently returned from overseas.

With memories of the 2011 floods still fresh, where we were virtually housebound for days, when it started raining heavily in January I got in enough supplies to last for some time and have kept those topped up, which limits the need to go to the supermarket.

What if I am unable to attend your ceremony?

 

Being realistic, there is always a possibility that any of us might be in contact with someone who is later diagnosed with COVID-19 and be required to self-isolate. Should that happen to me here is the plan:

  • I belong to a large Celebrant Association so you can rest assured that I will be able to arrange a substitute celebrant
  • If you are getting married any authorised celebrant who is in possession of your Notice of Intended Marriage can solemnise your marriage, and it is legal to transfer that Notice by electronic means

My Duty of Care and Public Health Safety Responsibilities - added 17 March 2020

 
As a celebrant, I have a duty of care to all in attendance. Under Workplace Health and Safety provisions it is my responsibility to ensure that the ceremony is held in conditions that are safe to all.

That hasn't changed, but due to the high risk of this virus, my role now also requires me to give general public safety first priority, which means giving precedence to public health requirements over the Code of Practice for Celebrants. Therefore, I would be required to refuse to proceed with the ceremony if any guest presents with any symptoms, or if any guest has broken mandated self-isolation (such as anyone who has arrived from overseas and should therefore be isolated for 14 days from arrival), or if the numbers present exceed the total numbers allowed for your gathering.  I would also be required to report those who are/have or could breach public health rules.

Further information