As a wedding planner and designer trying to thrive during coronavirus, my goals have changed a little bit. I first and foremost work to encourage couples to joyfully celebrate and invest in their relationships through intimate weddings. I also want to educate couples about the real options out there, as our day to day changes, on how to still get married during COVID-19. So let’s dive right in because there is no time like the present!
The Governor has issued very specific mandates for limiting public gatherings in the state of California. You can check to see what phase of reopening we are in by visiting the California Resilience Roadmap. In Southern California, as counties are opening up in phases, it’s important to make sure you are aware of the restrictions or safety requirements before you jump to planning.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has some specific guidelines you should be familiar with so you can make the best decisions for your day.
UPDATE (8/5/2020): In Los Angeles, the County Public Health Department has recently issued a legally binding order to prohibit gatherings.
UPDATE (10/16/2020): Los Angeles Department of Public Health has issued an update on private gatherings: “to allow private gatherings of three or fewer households, as long as the private gathering is outdoors, everyone wears a cloth face covering and keeps at least six feet of physical distance, food is in single-serve disposable containers, and the duration of the gathering is two hours or less.”
UPDATE (12/29/2020): The Los Angeles Department of Health and Human Services announced the city will remain in a Stay-at-Home Order indefinitely. ICU capacity at hospitals is currently at zero percent for the Southern California region. It is advised to not gather at all with anyone outside of your household.
UPDATE (4/15/2021): California has released their COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Private Venues and Events that will be in effect starting today, April 15th. Please make sure you connect with your venue and vendors to discuss the guidelines and the implications of implementing them for your wedding day. There is also the Addendum to Blueprint Activity & Business Tiers Chart that has pertinent information about private events with tested and fully vaccinated guests starting on page 8.
Each county may also have specific guidelines for private events so please make sure to check with your local government as well. To find your local California county mandates on gathering and how to get married during COVID-19, check out the California Events Coalition website for updated links and helpful info!
There are a few locations that have announced they are open for couples to make appointments.
UPDATE (8/1): The Norwalk County Clerks Office is taking in person appointments to apply for a marriage license. You must complete the online application prior to making your appointment.
UPDATE (5/25): The County Clerks Office is currently training its staff to use the new online system, and will be doing appointments by first-come-first-serve basis. Couples in Los Angeles are encouraged to call the office to get their name on the list. All couples getting married will purchase their marriage license and have their civil ceremony on the same video conferencing call.
Claudette, a bride recently married using these services, shared the following information when it comes to the experience:
You can find more information about how to apply for marriage licenses online through the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website. For updates as to how they will be implementing any changes please check their website.
Brittanee Taylor Photography
UPDATE (8/1): On the OC Clerk-Recorder website they are now offering a virtual marriage license application process so you can get married during COVID-19.
As of July 20th, the offices in Anaheim, Laguna Hills, and the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana are closed, but the Honda Center remains open for marriage license application appointments and civil ceremonies.
The OC Clerk-Recorder is offering marriage licenses at it’s Honda Center pop-up location. More details are available on the Orange County Clerk-Recorder Website.
The Ventura County Clerk-Recorder website also mentions a few restrictions. These include, only one couple will be allowed inside at a time, one person must be a resident of Ventura County to apply at this time, and they will not be performing any marriage ceremonies at this time.
Both of the department’s offices (Ventura and Thousand Oaks East County office) are closed for in-person services.
If you are looking to get a marriage license in Riverside County, the Riverside County Clerk’s Office is issuing marriage licenses online and in-person by appointment only. For Online Marriage Licenses and Ceremonies, one of the parties must reside in Riverside County.
The Palm Desert, Temecula, Hemet, and Blythe offices are currently open by appointment only. But civil ceremonies are only available at the Hemet office. The Downtown-Riverside location remains closed.
Muse Moments Photography
For the purpose of this educational article, and keeping in mind the current pandemic situation, I am defining elopement as a marriage conducted in sudden (not secretive) fashion. These weddings are happening both in the couple’s immediate homes, or homes of family members. But they are also happening in secluded or romantic locations. Since elopements happen generally quickly, it is pretty clear that there are usually no guests in attendance. However, today’s couples that elope may choose to include a witness, photographer, parents, or siblings. Especially if the elopement is a contingency plan from a postponed or canceled wedding, couples may bend this notion of a private ceremony by using social distancing.
For many couples, the time spent counting down to their celebrated wedding day has been pulled out from underneath them. Getting married during coronavirus was not on your to-do list for 2020! With venues rescheduling, guests unable to travel, and strict social distancing measures still in effect you can still look into citywide options. Here are some ideas for your Elopement in Los Angeles:
Kami Arant Photography
In Orange County, the County Clerk-Recorder has opened up the Honda Center parking lot as a satellite office where couples can have a wedding ceremony on site. Everything is by appointment only at the pop-up wedding chapel (the first of it’s kind in Southern California). Strict safety guidelines are in effect, including only allowing one witness for all wedding ceremonies. More details are available on the Orange County Clerk-Recorder Website about how to get married during COVID-19.
If you are wondering how to get married during COVID-19, you may have to think outside the traditional wedding box. For couples who want to keep planning, but are open to downsizing their plans, you can start focusing on a small wedding, intimate wedding, or micro-wedding ceremony! In general, all of these terms refer to a wedding that has been parsed down and includes a less robust guest count. In my personal experience, this is how I would categorize them. Small Wedding < 100 guests, Intimate Wedding < 50 guests, Micro-Wedding < 15 guests.
At this time, each state is going through its own process (or phases) of opening back up. When planning how to get married during COVID-19 these guidelines should ALWAYS be adhered to for your health and safety, and that of your guests. We are still a ways off from celebrating intimate or small weddings. But this leaves room for micro-weddings. Again, many opinions exist. For this definition, micro-weddings are:
Abbi Cooley Photography
This is still a special day where you needn’t feel the stress of organizing or managing an event. Some vendors you might need and consider adding to your team include:
Finding resources for planning a small or micro-wedding can be scarce. So I put together a budget guide for couples planning with a reduced budget for small weddings of up to 50 guests. Based on your budget tier, I give the top vendors you should focus on to create ease, peace, and joy on your wedding day!
Wedding Sidekicks Photography
While the Los Angeles county clerks offices remain closed, there are other counties in which you can still schedule a civil ceremony, even in person.
As more offices open up for in person civil ceremonies we will update accordingly!
This event is for all couples who desire a done-for-you small intimate ceremony, without all the fuss of decision fatigue trying to figure out how to get married during COVID-19. We want to provide you with a chic + unique wedding experience that:
If you’d like more info, join our email list (scroll to the bottom of the website) and be the first to hear all the details as we share about the exciting event!
Here is a shortlist of some Los Angeles venues that are offering elopement packages, small wedding packages, and wedding ceremony only packages!
Kami Arant Photography
Here are some recent online articles with information:
Although it may not be as you originally planned, I hope your eyes are opened to how you can get married during COVID-19! Because your love and relationships are absolutely important and worth celebrating. If you have any updated information feel free to email me at email@example.com or post below in a comment! I will be updating this post as frequently as new information becomes available!
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Sarah is a Los Angeles wedding planner ready to
elevate all your relationships through small and intimate weddings.