23 Jun Guidelines for the safe delivery of celebrant led ceremonies during the Covid 19 pandemic
Wedding ceremonies and Covid 19
As we enter this new phase of the easing of restrictions, we are beginning to see smaller wedding ceremonies take place and larger wedding ceremonies from July 20th. But what will a wedding ceremony look like in this new environment? This is a question many couples are asking themselves as they make the decision whether to go ahead, or postpone their wedding until things are clearer.
The safety of our Celebrants and clients is our main concern and as well as being bound by the guidelines set out by the HSE and the Irish Government, The Irish Ethical Celebrants Society has set out a comprehensive list of guidelines in relation to the safe delivery of celebrant led ceremonies during the Covid 19 pandemic.
The aim of the guidelines outlined below is to give transparent, practical advice for performing a ceremony that is safe for everyone involved, while always retaining the fun, personality and joy of a celebrant led wedding ceremony.
- Celebrants will get the names and telephone numbers of all other vendors taking part in the ceremony to assist with contact tracing if needed.
- Celebrants will also ensure that the venue and other vendors have their contact details.
- It is recommended that Celebrants confirm expected numbers with the couple in advance. It is important to note that the numbers allowed include staff/vendors.
- It is recommended that Celebrants contact the venue in advance to ensure that it is possible to maintain social distancing.
- Use of gloves is recommended while setting up the ceremony space. Anti-bacterial wipes should be used to wipe down surfaces – do not assume it will have been done already.
- Liaise with the other vendors – photographer/musicians etc to ensure everyone can maintain social distancing from each other during the ceremony.
- Bring anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down surfaces. Always carry hand sanitizer and hand wipes. Always carry tissues.
- Check if there are microphones available – preferably two – one for the celebrant and one for the couple or readers. Wipe down microphones with anti-bacterial wipes.
- It is recommended that Celebrants arrive at the venue at least 90 minutes prior to the ceremony to ensure adequate time to prepare the space and wipe down surfaces.
- If the Celebrant or anyone of their household is unwell, the Celebrant must make alternative arrangements for another Celebrant to step in and perform the ceremony.
During the ceremony
- Ensure that you can at all times maintain social distance from the couple/guests, in accordance with Government guidelines. If needed place a table between you and the couple to ensure that distance is maintained throughout.
- Try to limit the number of guests participating in the ceremony, if possible. This must be done in consultation with the couple.
- Refrain from shaking hands with the couple or guests.
- During vows – it is not recommended to stand beside or close to the couple as they exchange vows. Repeat vows should be done with the Celebrant maintaining social distance or by the couple reciting/reading their vows directly to each other.
- It is recommended that the couple provide their own print out of vows. However as a back up the Celebrant must also have a copy, each in a plastic pocket, which has been wiped down with an anti-bacterial wipe. Gloves must be worn when handling the plastic pocket. The vows can be laid on the ceremony table for the couple to pick up during the vow exchange.
- Ring exchange – Celebrants must not handle the rings. It is recommended that the rings are placed on a table in front of the couple for them to take out themselves. In agreement with the couple, the best man may hand them the rings.
Readings are a great way of personalising a ceremony and couples will often ask family or friends to be involved in their ceremony by doing a reading. Celebrants will endeavour to do their best to facilitate this, with the following guidelines.
- Readers should bring their own copy of the reading. As a back up it is recommended that the Celebrant have a copy, in a plastic pocket which has been wiped with an anti-bacterial wipe. The reading should be given to the reader in advance of the ceremony or placed on the ceremony table, in the plastic folder, for them.
- Microphones for speakers are not recommended at this time due to the necessity to share a microphone.
- Only one reader at a time must be called forward.
- The use of face coverings will be determined by a number of factors – personal choice, the couples preference, the venue.
- If it is your personal preference to wear a face covering you must advise the couple of this. If the couple would prefer you not to it is a personal choice whether you continue with them or recommend another Celebrant to them. Celebrants are advised to always consider their own personal circumstances and preferences as well as those of the couple.
- If the couple prefer the Celebrant to wear a face covering this must always be respected and adhered to. If for whatever reason a Celebrant is unable to wear a face covering, they must advise the couple of this and recommend an alternative Celebrant to perform the ceremony.
- If the venue is small and social distancing cannot safely be maintained at all times during the ceremony it is recommended that Celebrants wear a face covering.
- In the interest of sustainability and the ethos of the Irish Ethical Celebrant Society, it is recommended that Celebrants source reusable face coverings as opposed to single use masks.
Rituals are an integral part of Celebrant led ceremonies and one of the main ways couples personalise their ceremony. Our Celebrants will endeavour to do everything they can to facilitate rituals, with the following guidelines.
- Celebrants will discuss with their couple the limitations on rituals during this time and will work with the couple to find the best options available to them.
- Props – it is recommended that for the foreseeable future couples provide their own props for rituals. Upon consultation with the couple Celebrants should provide a number of recommendations to them on where they can source sand, jars, ribbons etc. Celebrants will give the couple the correct measurements for ribbons.
- Celebrants will advise the couple to place the ritual items in a box for collection upon arrival at the venue. Gloves must be used at all times when setting up the ritual props. It is recommended that celebrants have a back-up of props available, which have been sterilised prior to the ceremony.
- Ring warming, Passing the Heart Beat and any other ritual that requires guests to touch or be in close contact are not recommended at this time.
- The Celebrant must at all times give clear instruction and direction during the ritual. It is recommended that Celebrants offer to do a run through with the couple in advance, by video call, if required.
Handfastings are one of the most popular ceremony rituals and do require the celebrant to be in close proximity with the couple, for a brief period. The following are recommendations on how to perform a handfasting ritual safely.
- Celebrants must discuss in advance with the couple the requirement to be in close proximity to each other for a brief time during the ritual.
- If the couple request that the Celebrant wear a face covering during the ritual this must be respected unless there is a valid reason the Celebrant cannot wear a face covering. In this case, the Celebrant must offer the couple a recommendation for another Celebrant to perform the ceremony. This must be discussed at the early stages of the engagement with the couple.
- If it is the Celebrants preference to wear a mask during the ritual again it must be discussed with the couple in advance and agreed. If the couple do not agree to it, it is the Celebrants personal choice whether to continue working with the couple. If the Celebrant decides not to continue, they must offer a recommendation of another Celebrant to perform the ceremony.
- If requested by the couple, a guest can lay/tie the ribbons. If this is the requirement, it is recommended that the Celebrant offer training via a video call to the guest in advance of the ceremony, and give clear direction on the day.
- Celebrants may need to adapt their preferred method of performing a handfasting to limit the amount of time in close contact with the couple.
- It is advised the Celebrant wear gloves when laying and tying the ribbons.
- It is advised that the Celebrant completes the narrative of the ritual from the required social distance, only stepping forward briefly to lay or tie the ribbons.
- The Celebrant must advise the photographer of the procedure during this ritual to ensure they can get the best pictures from the best angles.
After the ceremony
- It is recommended that the Celebrant wait until the room is cleared of guests before leaving.
- Gloves must be used to pack up the ceremony space.
- It is recommended to wash hands/use hand sanitizer directly after the ceremony.
- Celebrants are advised to refrain from participating in group photographs.
The above guidelines will be discussed and agreed with couples at the initial consultation stage. It is the Celebrants duty to ensure that the couple is fully aware of the procedures in place to ensure the safe delivery of their wedding ceremony. It is advised that couples sign both a contract and Covid 19 guidelines document.
No booking fee should be accepted until the Celebrant has confirmed, in writing, that the couple fully understand and agree to these guidelines. It is the Celebrant’s responsibility to ensure that they have received confirmation of this before accepting any payment.
The above are guidelines only and each Celebrant must adhere to the most current guidelines as set out by the HSE and the Government of Ireland at the time of the ceremony.
The Irish Ethical Celebrants Society