Can a Wedding Go Forward During the Covid Crisis?

Getting Married Is Legal. Having Your Wedding Reception As Originally Planned Is Likely Illegal.

A Helpful Guide For How to Determine and Understand Whether a Wedding May Proceed During the Covid19 Pandemic

Contract Document Containing Terms Made Impossible By Government Mandated Shutdowns The law currently allows weddings with ten (10) or few persons in attendance; and as the couple being married count, as does the officiant, that leaves only seven (7) other people for the complete wedding party as well as family members, guests, and others.  Additionally, whereas venues are mandated to remain closed, and it would also be impossible for kitchen staff, servers, entertainers, among others, to squeeze into the ten (10) people allowed at an event, it is obvious that wedding events are unable to go forward as previously organized and planned.

The Law, limiting weddings, among other events

When the Covid19 Crisis struck Ontario in March, the government issued Orders that restricted various activities including, unfortunately, public gatherings such as weddings, and other events.  This mandate arose per O. Reg. 52/20, as a regulation to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9, and the Order pursuant to section 7.0.2 (4) was issued on March 18 2020 and was thereafter amended many times.  The original Order restricted events to a maximum of fifty (50) people which was thereafter reduced to five (5) people.  Specifically, the initial Order, and first amended Order, stated:

WHEREAS an emergency was declared on March 17th, 2020 pursuant to Order in Council 518/2020 (Ontario Regulation 50/20);

AND WHEREAS the criteria set out in subsection 7.0.2 (2) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been satisfied;

NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to subsection 7.0.2 (4), paragraph 14 of the Act, all organized public events of over fifty people are hereby prohibited including parades and events and communal services within places of worship.

This Order shall be in effect until March 31st, 2020 unless this Order is terminated earlier.

1. (1) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall attend,

(a)  an organized public event of more than five people, including a parade;

(b)  a social gathering of more than five people; or

(c)  a gathering of more than five people for the purposes of conducting religious services, rites or ceremonies.

(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies to an event or gathering even if it is held at a private dwelling.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to the following:

1.  A gathering of members of a single household.

2.  A gathering for the purposes of a funeral service that is attended by not more than 10 persons.

Lastest Update as of June 13th, 2020:

Recently, a Notice was issued by the Government of Ontario to state that an amendment now allow weddings with up to ten (10) people attending or up to thirty (30%) percent of the venue capacity so long as social distancing practices continue including the requirement that contact between ten people remains limited to those living within a family unit.  Accordingly, if a wedding is going forward, handshakes, hugs, and kisses, among most guests remains forbidden.  This latest amendment to allow events attended by up to ten (10) people will take effect at 12:01am on June 12 2020.  Of course, even with the latest increase to allow events with up to ten (10) people, many events, except for the smallest of weddings, remain unlawful.

With the above said, those willing to take chances on the weather may now conduct a wedding outdoors subject to the maintenance of social distancing requirements.  As per the latest Government of Ontario update:

"Wedding ... ceremonies taking place outdoors will be limited to 50 attendees. For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety advice, including practising physical distancing from people who are not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle."
Source:  Government of Ontario

Summary Comment

The normal conducting of a wedding event remains forbidden by provincial law with various restrictions on the number of attendees permitted as well as the closeness and conduct permitted.  Accordingly, many contracts relating to wedding services remain legally impossible and thereby frustrated.  For couples seeking to reschedule a wedding without undue pressure from vendors including the reception venue, or for those couples wanting a return of deposit monies so that you can make new plans, get in touch with The Wedding Lawyer.

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