How Celebrants Deliver Safe COVID Ceremonies

This is a strange time to be delivering ceremonies. None of us could have anticipated when we were training as celebrants that we would have to wear gloves at a ceremony. Or that we wouldn’t be able to shake people’s hands. Still, we’ve resolved to keep delivering the best ceremonies we can during this COVID time. We’ll keep on joining couples in their love, comforting the grieving and celebrating in whatever way we can.

On the left-hand side of this pic, you see the words 'Guidelines for Celebrant-Led Civil Ceremonies during the COVID-19 Pandemic. To the right, you see the green logo of the IECS, in the shape of a tree with a circle around it. Behind those, you see a celebrant holding a folder that's open on a page, and a couple standing at a safe distance from them.


This pic is from the IECS, who provided celebrants with guidelines for delivering safe wedding and other family ceremonies.  

And we’re determined to deliver our ceremonies in a way that’s safe, for the families we work with and for ourselves. We’re not going to treat people like lepers for something that isn’t their fault. I’m greatly reassured that I can follow the guidelines laid down by two celebrant organisations I belong to.

The Irish Ethical Celebrant Society has drawn up guidelines for weddings and other family occasions. Meanwhile, The Association of Funeral Celebrants Ireland has created guidelines for the safe delivery of funerals. I am massively grateful to the committees of both these organisations for the time they took to prepare these guidelines for all of us celebrants.

Numbers Allowed At COVID Ceremonies

As celebrants, we’re very anxious to stick to the government guidelines on numbers allowed at wedding and funeral ceremonies. To make sure we comply with those guidelines, we’ll ask the couple how many guests they are inviting to the wedding and to make sure they have contact details for them all. We’ll do the same with funeral directors.

For funerals, there can be the extra consideration that people will gather outside the funeral home or graveyard to pay their respects. If this happens, we’ll ask the funeral director to indicate a safe way that we can exit the building or graveyard. It’s not our responsibility to keep the numbers at the government limits. But it is our responsibility to make sure we don’t walk into a situation that’s unsafe for us or for anyone else.

Have a look at my Funerals page to see how I deliver funeral ceremonies.

Social Distancing At COVID Ceremonies

Sadly, we will not be able to shake hands with families we’re delivering ceremonies for, or to stand close to couples while they carry out wedding rituals like handfastings. We will maintain a two-metre distance at all times, which means that for example, a family member will tie the ribbon for the couple at a handfasting.

People who are doing readings would read from where they’re sitting rather than going up to the lectern. That’s because sharing microphones is not a good idea – it also means sharing germs. We’ll still wear masks at all times, even when we’re delivering the ceremony. We just want to make sure we’re protected and can protect others if social distance can’t be guaranteed.

Handling Ceremony Materials

Celebrants now need to manage our ceremony materials more carefully than ever. First of all, we’ll need to rely more on families to bring their own materials, especially for weddings. Usually celebrants bring materials for the rituals like ribbons and candles, just to make sure they’re there on the day. Now we’ll be asking the couples to do it. We’ll ask them to put the vows, ribbons, sand or anything else they’re using in a box and we’ll pick it up on the day.

We’ll be handling the materials with gloves when we do pick them up, so gloves are now a must in our celebrant checklist. Overall, the checklist for what we celebrants bring to ceremonies is now way bigger. As well as surgical grade gloves, masks are a must – more than one if possible. We’ll also bring wipes and hand sanitiser so we can wipe down every surface and every item we touch.

Ultimately, it’s up to each and every celebrant to weigh up the risks for ourselves and the people we’re delivering ceremonies for. But I feel confident that if I follow these excellent guidelines, I can deliver a safe ceremony for you. All of our lives are precious, and I’m committed to keeping you safe. One thing I can guarantee – the ceremony will be as memorable and meaningful as I can make it, restrictions are not.

Even in these strange times, milestones deserved to be marked. You can get in touch with me on 0876959799 if you want to arrange a safe ceremony.

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