COVID-19 is like a horrible roommate, constantly making a mess and keeping you awake at night. In all seriousness, the virus is extremely contagious and deadly to many, and definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It has completely changed the landscape of how we interact with others — social distancing isn’t just a buzzword, but the new norm — and has deeply affected how couples marry. So much so, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson have announced “Project Cupid”, a massive undertaking to award online marriage licenses to New York City couples.
The Cost of COVID-19
But other couples around the country aren’t so lucky. Social distancing guidelines mandate gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited and many customer-facing businesses like restaurants and catering companies, florists, DJ’s, and event spaces have shut their doors for the foreseeable future, which doesn’t leave many options for couples.
New York residents, Sean Focht, 25, and Cheyenne North, 24, say it’s turned their wedding plans upside down. Once scheduled to marry in early this month, Cheyenne states, “we’ve had to completely reschedule due to lack of funding. We’ve had to get our money back and forsake our venue date in order to pay for everyday household necessities and keep our mortgage going.”
“I had the venue picked out, the DJ, florist, photographer, everything done within a month and now here I am, another year out from my wedding date and nothing is working. No one is answering.” But financial issues aren’t the only thing concerning the couple and their wedding party. “I have aunts and uncles that don’t want to travel. Our older grandparents and great-grandparents are in a bind because they want to be there for us, but they don’t want to get sick.”
The Steps Forward
So how are other couples adapting to this unprecedented situation? Many are either pairing down and opting for a close knit, backyard ceremony or postponing festivities for an entire year like Sean and Cheyenne. People are also getting creative with the latest trend in “Zoom Weddings”, an online video conferencing platform, which allows couples to have their friends and family virtually attend the wedding ceremony, Brady Bunch style.
But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson are taking it a step further. Launching in the first week of May, couples will be able to check out the official Project Cupid site and apply for marriage licenses without having to see a clerk in person or risk COVID-19 exposure and infection.
According to nyc.gov, “the new system will allow couples to virtually schedule and attend an appointment with the City Clerk’s office, securely upload required documents for the marriage license to the City Clerk’s office, and upload the signed license for submission to the City Clerk once the ceremony is complete.”
Many states across the nation are beginning to loosen restrictions however, threatening to bring in a new wave of infection and pushing in-person wedding events back even further. But with many families hunkering down and maintaining their distance, it seems virtual reality is here to stay and tech-savvy government officials are paving the way for the foreseeable future.