Phase 2: Elopements and Small Wedding Guidelines in Washington State.

Bride and groom wearing masks. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

On June 19, 2020 the Governor of Washington announced that non-religious wedding ceremonies could occur if they follow the same Phase 1–3 guidelines as those required for religious services. In addition, on June 23, 2020, the Governor gave the order for all people in the state to wear face coverings when in public, both indoors and outdoors. Officiants and ministers are considered business professionals making these rules mandatory for all services they provide.

Pierce County and surrounding areas have moved into Phase 2 of the states plan to reopen in response to the COVID-19 virus. During this phase, there are some looseing of restrictions, but there are few rules that are important for couples, wedding parties, planners and guests. The following lists some of the important guidelines to keep in mind while planning your small wedding or elopement during phase 2:

  1. Wedding indoor venues must be at 25% of capacity. For a small wedding this means that you will need to take into consideration the square footage of the space you are planning to use for your wedding. Most public venues will have the maximum capacity posted for you, but you should ask the venue staff when you book it. For example, if the venue you plan on using can accommodate 55 people, then you can only have 13 people plus the staff at your ceremony. Make sure to talk to the venue staff to determine if they are following other state and local guidelines to help keep everyone safe, such as providing proper ventilation, have hand-washing locations, following employee mask requirements, etc. All venues are required to have a COVID-19 plan in place, so ask them about it if you want more details.
  2. Indoor home weddings must have no more than 5 people plus staff. This number makes the wedding a little more intimate. Physical distancing is to be maintained and the wedding staff (i.e. the officiant) is required to wear a mask. Masks are also required for all those in attendance.
  3. Outdoor wedding guests must maintain physical distancing and wear a mask. The recommended distance is 6 feet apart, unless the individuals are living in the same home. No matter the location, take this guideline into consideration when making out the guest list. For example, a 1000 square foot backyard with no trees or other obstructions can accommodate 7 total people. Even if you are using your home or a friend’s home, physical distancing and masks are required.
  4. Wedding officiants are required to follow these guidelines. In order to remain within the law as a business professional in Washington State, he or she will wear a mask and maintain social distancing. It’s also required that the officiants or ministers take their temperatures prior to the ceremony. If they have a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher before the wedding, he or she cannot perform the ceremony. Although this is unlikely to occur, make sure to discuss a plan for if the officiant is sick.
  5. Have fun, even with all the restrictions. This is not an official rule; however, it is a strongly recommended guideline. This is your special day. Make it full of joy and happiness. No, it may not be what you dreamed, but it is still a special day. It’s the first day of the rest of your married life! Enjoy it. I always say that if everything goes perfect on your wedding day, then you have nothing fun to talk about in the years to come. Imperfections make the moments real and memorable. Embrace them.

Schedule an Elopement or Small Wedding Consultation

If you’re ready to schedule your elopement or small wedding in Tacoma, WA or surrounding areas, contact A Small Wedding for you FREE ceremony consultation.

Rev. Lori Erwin-Johnson is a wedding officiant and wellbeing coach looking to help individuals and couples find their Happily Ever After. Visit her website to learn more about her.

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