On Saturday the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to allow New Yorkers to obtain a marriage licence remotely and enable clerks to perform wedding ceremonies via video conference. This practice is banned under usual law.
When making the announcement at a press conference, Governor Cuomo said: “You can do it by Zoom.”
The temporary allowance aims to get around the fact that many of the state’s marriage bureaus have been closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing New Yorkers from getting a marriage licence during the current health emergency. The executive order will temporarily suspend a provision of law that requires in-person visits.
While the changes will allow couples to get married during the COVID-19 pandemic, these changes will not be any help to the broader wedding industry, made up of caters, florists, stylists, wedding planners, waiters and many more.
According to The Knot Worldwide, some 95% of engaged couples were rescheduling their weddings as of early April.
“It came in so much faster and more furiously on the wedding front in a way our industry wasn’t prepared for,” Amy Shey Jacobs, the founder of New York-based Chandelier Events, told CNBC. “Particularly in New York, it went very rapidly to the industry being cut off at its knees.”
In Australia, the wedding industry has been similarly crippled, though you can have five people at an in-person wedding during COVID-19 (the celebrant, the couple and their two legal witnesses). In addition, social distancing rules apply, with a mandatory 1.5 metres between each person and the space must allow for at least 4 sq metres per person.
Despite the allowance of small weddings, many couples are still postponing their big day.
If you’ve had to delay or cancel a wedding in Australia due to COVID-19, the ACCC has said that in most cases customers are not entitled to a refund, but businesses are still required to honour their terms and conditions – therefore, the best solution for both parties is for the business to provide a partial refund, credit note or voucher, or postpone the service if possible. The ACCC also said that any vouchers should ensure that there is enough time for the customer to actually use it.