weddings

'I’m due to get married in 12 days. Right now, it’s illegal.'

I’m due to get married in 12 days. Right now, it’s illegal.

You heard me. No, the restrictions for weddings are not the same as funerals (10 people). No, the restrictions are not the five people required for a marriage to be recognised in NSW. Weddings are illegal. Zero people allowed.

I cannot begin to count how many times I have had to explain this to well-meaning friends and family over the past four weeks. People who love me dearly, who have taken the time to reach out and say how sorry they are that this is happening, how awful it must be to be going through this. "But at least you can get married now, and just celebrate later," they all inevitably end up saying. No, we can’t.

The things you never say in 2021. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

You see, my fiance and I are both Christians. To us, a wedding is not about the big celebration of love with the 121 people we had on our reception list. Of course, having planned the big white wedding, we were devastated as it began to dawn on us that NSW would not be out of this mess by August 14. 

But we had always agreed that we would get married, regardless of how small the minimum legal number for a wedding became – you have to talk about these things when you get engaged during a global pandemic.

In the tightest lockdown endured by NSW last year, when the first wave of COVID-19 was sweeping the globe and we knew a lot less about it all than we do now, weddings were restricted to five people. The couple, the celebrant, and two witnesses. The legal minimum number of people required for a marriage to be recognised by the NSW Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. 

At the time, this was unprecedented. We watched on as nameless strangers got married without parents by their sides. Coming from a large, tight-knit family with six younger siblings, I couldn’t imagine a wedding where I didn’t have those that I loved present in full. I had never dreamed about eloping and had always wanted a big wedding. I wanted to stand in a church and sing worship songs loudly next to my new husband. I wanted our friends to pray over us in public. I wanted to make promises in front of hundreds of people to love, cherish and protect my husband until death do us part. The whole shebang. 

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I wanted the photos, the speeches, the cake, the first dance. I was excited for all of it. But, ultimately, I just wanted to get married. And I knew that at the end of the day, if that’s all we could do, it would be enough. The rest could come later. We promised each other that no matter how low numbers got, we would still get married.

But now, that number has dropped well below five people. It’s dropped to zero.

This lockdown isn’t like the others we have seen. There is something different, something almost sinister about it. The Delta strain is vicious and clever in a way that we have never seen COVID be until now. That, combined with our national mental exhaustion, stifled economy and the spreading anti-vax and anti-lockdown movements across the country, has resulted in tighter restrictions than ever before. And although my fiance and I talked about every other way that COVID might affect our wedding, neither of us ever imagined that we wouldn’t be able to get married at all.

Perhaps that is naïve of us. But with construction back in business, funerals allowed with 10 people (as well as however many required to run the service), and churches able to have a minimal number of people in a building to record a livestream service (usually around five), it seems a bizarre and extreme measure to ban weddings altogether.

Image: Supplied. 

Twelve days before my wedding should be exciting. I should be talking to everyone about it. I should be finalising details, stressing about my hair being perfect, and making sure my dancefloor playlist is organised to perfection.

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I’m happy to let all that go. Countless others certainly have.

Yet 12 days before a five person wedding should still be exciting. I should be talking to my mum on the phone, telling her how sad I am that she can’t be there. I should be memorising my vows with my fiance, because in the midst of all of it, the promises we are making are the most important thing. I should be slowing down, looking up, and feeling thankful for all that we have and all we are blessed with.

But an unknown number of days to a wedding with an unknown number of people? That’s a little harder to be excited about. In fact, it’s hard to feel anything at all. I realise there are people in far worse situations, who are far more devastated by this pandemic than I am. But I am just one person, and right now, I am numb.

Aside from my daily COVID cry. Which is usually brought on by someone saying, "Well at least you two can still get married!"

Bethany is a 24-year-old worker in two wildly different industries, who has always wanted to be a writer. She is the oldest of seven, and is deeply committed to her Christian faith.

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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