With restrictions on large groups, only very small ceremonies are allowed right now. With information adapted from the Government of BC, here’s an overview of the rules for weddings in the wake of COVID-19.
The rules about small weddings during COVID-19
At this time, event organizers are ordered to limit all public gatherings larger than 50 people.
In settings where you are seeing friends and family, everyone is encouraged to continue to take measures to limit transmission of COVID-19 such as:
- Keep groups small
- Maintain a physical distance
- Stay home if you feel unwell or have symptoms
- Wash hands frequently.
Marriage Commissioners (also known as officiants) are aware of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s restrictions on gatherings, and her advice that large weddings should not be planned at this time.
According to the Government of BC, marriage commissioners can choose to proceed or not with weddings, as they see fit. Marriage commissioners may decide to limit the number of guests at wedding ceremonies to five people; the couple and two witnesses. If social distancing is not being practiced, Marriage Commissioners may refuse to proceed until the ceremony can be managed in an appropriate manner.
What would the ceremony look like in order for it to be safe?
In an effort to keep marriage commissioners safe, the ceremony should remain somewhat isolated. Some couples are getting creative and may have their guests kept at a distance (like on a field or on a deck) while the witnesses, the marriage commissioner, and the couple go forward with the ceremony. Marriage commissioners have the flexibility to work with the couple to plan an appropriate and safe ceremony, so speak with them about what’s possible.
Can I get married remotely without an officiant or witnesses?
No. The Marriage Act prohibits couples from being legally married virtually or remotely. Both parties to the marriage must be present in person along with the officiant and two witnesses.
My wedding is postponed and now my marriage licence has expired. What can I do?
Couples deciding to postpone their wedding to a date after their marriage licence has expired may request a refund directly from Vital Statistics by calling 250 952-2681 or toll-free within B.C. 1 888 876-1633.
Toll-Free within B.C.: 1 888 876-1633
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Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca