The impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions on weddings and funerals have been significant.
Wedding plans have been thrown into disarray, shattering many couples’ dreams of the wedding they’d envisaged for years. At the height of the Stage 4 restrictions, weddings have been banned in Metropolitan Melbourne, unless the Department of Health and Human Services rules that there are compassionate grounds (ie that one or both parties to the wedding are at the end of life or will be deported from Australia unless they get married).
It seems unlikely that weddings with large numbers of guests will be able to take place in Victoria anytime soon. And, as our international borders remain closed and international flights into Australia are perhaps years away from becoming a reality again, the planned large weddings with friends and family from overseas appear even further from happening.
Some couples have rescheduled – and will likely reschedule multiple times, to retain their original plan. They want the wedding of their dreams and are determined to have it, regardless of how long they may have to wait.
Other couples have resigned themselves to just getting married in front of their two witnesses – and having a celebration later, when COVID-19 restrictions are lighter than they currently are. Lots of those couples have reported being relieved – the restrictions have helped them have a smaller wedding without the headaches and politics that large numbers of guests sometimes present.
In addition, having a legals-only marriage ceremony has meant couples have been able to save money they would have spent on a celebration – and enabled them to think about other things to spend that money on. Funerals have also been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions. Under Stage 4, a maximum of 10 people (excluding the funeral staff, celebrant etc) are allowed at any funeral. Social distancing must be observed and ‘wakes’ are banned.
It has been a very tough time for anyone close to people who have died during these times. People who would usually have hugged and cried together have been unable to do so. The restricted numbers have meant that next-of-kin have been put under pressure that’s not usually present at a funeral, by having to decide who can and who cannot attend.
There are no wakes, no physical contact or hugs to seek comfort from.
Many people who have died and who had pre-planned their funeral have been denied the funeral they planned. And whilst the ceremony may be the same that was pre-planned, the numbers and the grieving process have been changed from those envisaged pre-COVID-19. All of these things have exacerbated and delayed the grieving process.
If there’s a silver lining in COVID-19, it’s been the fact that many funerals have been live-streamed to those people dear to the deceased, who have been unable to attend in person but have been able to be present virtually.
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