The Coronavirus has postponed many plans, including graduations, overseas trips—and as we enter the month of May—weddings. New Jersey couples who want to say “I do” can still do so as of May 4th. However, according to Executive Order No. 107, all New Jersey residents are directed to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All gatherings are prohibited, which means that a big wedding reception is out of the question. But that does not mean that couples that want to solidify their commitment to one another must wait. On May 4th, governor Murphy signed executive order no. 135 that lessened restrictions for couples applying to get their marriage license and allowed for marriage via video conferencing.
Perhaps this order was signed because despite the pandemic, many couples want to have formal marriages. In Englewood, NJ, a couple was married by the City in early April where all in attendance kept to strict social distancing. Another couple held an outside private ceremony in West Orange, NJ, where the happy couple exchanged a kiss while wearing their masks. Even though a lot of the fanfare around large weddings is out of the question for those that were hoping to get married, it is now possible to receive a marriage certificate in NJ virtually.
The Executive Order also allows that couples who are to be wed may apply for their marriage license via video conferencing. Under the order, the 72-hour waiting period has been lifted. The period that a license is valid has been extended from 30 days to 90 days. The Governor has also lifted fees for a second marriage license if the original license has expired.
Once the marriage license is obtained, the happy couple can also video conference their marriage ceremony. The video conferences must be live and allow for interaction between the couple, the officiant, and the two witnesses. But the officiant and the witnesses do not have to be in the same location as the couple.
Cities and towns in the State are still permitted to conduct in-person ceremonies but are not required to. If a couple decides to do their marriage certification in person, they must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Large gatherings are still restricted so receptions are advised to be held virtually.
To find your local register visit the NJ Department of Health website to inquire about applying for a license and planning your wedding ceremony either online or in person.
This Order will continue in effect until the Governor announces that New Jersey is no longer in a state of emergency.
Aleksandra Syniec, who wrote this article, is a second-year law student at Seton Hall University School of Law. She is also knowledgeable in landlord-tenant law and the information technology.