Marriage License and Gathering Size Changes Due to COVID-19 in NC

COVID-19 Pandemic

Everyone has been affected in some manner due to the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020. Many people have been laid off or lost their jobs. The wedding industry has been severely impacted by most weddings rescheduling or canceling this Spring and early Summer. Wedding vendors have been working diligently to make this happen smoothly. Our hope is to make this as stress-free as we can for the couples.

Marriage License Changes in Wake County, NC

Wake County in NC is allowing couples to obtain their marriage licenses online by video conference starting 3-30-20 for the first time ever to ensure the safety of the employees and the couples.

The NC General Assembly passed a law on 5-2-20 allowing marriage licenses issued from 2-1-20 to 7-31-20 to be valid for 120 days. It was previously 60 days. The form still says 60 days but the license will be honored with this extension.

Three Phases of Reopening in NC

Phase One

Phase One of reopening NC will begin at 5 pm on May 8, 2020. Changes affecting weddings include nonessential travel to businesses that are open. The reopening of parks will allow spaces for smaller weddings. The limit of 10 people or less is still in effect. This includes the couple, 2 witnesses, the officiant, and 5 others – photographer,  guests, etc. Face covering is recommended if the social distancing of 6 feet between people can not be obtained.

I prefer maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more to the couple since a face mask does not allow my voice to be as readily heard when officiating the ceremony. The groom or best man holds the rings until it is time to place the ring on your partner’s finger.  I have the witnesses sign the marriage license at least 6 feet away and place the completed form in a Ziploc bag. I then use gloves to complete the form, sign, and mail to the Register of Deeds. These changes have been needed to ensure everyone’s safety since some may be in the high-risk group ( including myself).  The one thing I miss the most is hugging and congratulating the couples after the ceremony.

Phase Two

Phase Two may begin at least 2-3 weeks after Phase One which would be May 22-29, 2020.  This will allow the opening of entertainment venues at reduced capacity and an increase in the number of people allowed at gatherings. There is no mention of how many will be allowed or what the capacity will be at this time.

It also allows for the limited opening of personal care services. This should give couples the chance to have their hair and makeup done before the wedding. Your wedding day is one of the most memorable days of your life. It is only fitting that you should want to look your best. There are many fantastic hair and makeup wedding vendors in the area. These are some that I recommend to my couples.


Phase Three

Phase Three will begin at least 4-6 weeks after Phase Two making it at least 6-29-10 to 7-10-20 start date.  This will allow increased capacity at entertainment venues and further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings. There is no stated amount of the increase at this time.

The wedding community has a big heart. We are all here to help you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any other wedding vendor for clarification and support during this trying time. My hope is your dream wedding will occur as you planned. Some couples are paring down the guest list in anticipation of the new rules. Other couples are opting for Intimate Weddings with 10 guests ar less and having a larger ceremony in a few months.  Be kind to yourself and take time to think about what is really important. Entering into this lifelong commitment with someone you love is the essence of a wedding. Let love guide you as you plan during this challenging time.


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