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New Jersey Relaxes Rules for Indoor Wedding Receptions and Outdoor Receptions

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Last Updated: 03/03/2021

Yes, so long as ceremonies and receptions comply with the limits on gatherings and other safety guidelines.

Note: Indoor wedding receptions are currently capped at 10 people, while outdoor receptions are limited to 25 people under the current limits on gatherings. Effective Friday, March 5 at 6 am, indoor wedding receptions will be capped at 35 percent of the room's indoor capacity, but no more than 150 individuals, and outdoor receptions will be limited to 150 individuals.

See below for more details on ceremonies, venues, and marriage licenses.

Whenever outside, please do your part to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19: wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and stay home if you are sick. Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

WEDDING CEREMONIES AND VENUES

Outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions may be held while following appropriate gathering limits.

  • Outdoor wedding ceremonies do not have an attendance limit.
  • Outdoor wedding receptions must comply with the limits on general outdoor gatherings, which limits events to 25 people and requires social distancing. Effective March 5 at 6 am, they will be limited to 150 people, not including staff of the venue.

Indoor wedding ceremonies and receptions may be held while following appropriate gathering limits.

  • Indoor wedding ceremonies that involve a religious service, must be limited to 50 percent of a room's capacity.
  • Indoor wedding ceremonies that do not involve a religious service must be limited to 35 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 150 individuals.
  • Indoor wedding receptions must comply with the limits on general indoor gatherings which are currently limited to 10 people. All attendees at indoor gatherings must wear face coverings and socially distance. Effective March 5 at 6 am, they will be limited to 35 percent of the room's capacity, but no more 150 people, not including staff of the venue.

 

In addition to complying with the gatherings limits outlined above, any establishments that serve food or alcohol, including banquet halls and wedding venues, must also comply with the health and safety protocols for indoor and outdoor dining, including that people eat and drink while seated and wear face coverings at all other times..

Unfortunately, dance floors at all venues are closed due to the high-risk of spreading COVID-19 in these spaces, where many individuals may be in close contact with one another.

Note: Beginning November 5, employers must adhere to new employee protection guidelines, summarized here. Detailed requirements, as well as exemptions for certain employers, can be found in Executive Order No. 192.

Safety Tips For Gatherings

To avoid putting your loved ones at risk as COVID-19 cases remain high, the NJ Department of Health has offered safety tips for in-person gatherings:

  • Given the current surge in COVID-19 cases, only gather indoors with immediate household members if possible. Indoor gatherings are particularly dangerous places for the virus to spread. Host outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • If you do host indoors, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • The smaller the gathering is, the less likely it is that someone is infected and put loved ones at risk.
  • Require guests to wear masks when not eating, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others outside their household.
  • Make hand sanitizer available for guests.
  • Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.
  • When hosting activities, do so with people only from your local area as much as possible. Activities with attendees traveling from different locations increase the risk of infection and spread, especially if they are coming from or traveling to a location with higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread.
  • Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days, are showing COVID-19 symptoms, or recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates.
  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food—for example, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.
  • Consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contract tracing needs. If you are called by a contact tracer, it's critical that you answer the call to protect us all. Your help is the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.

 

MARRIAGE LICENSES

Those seeking a marriage license should apply for one in the New Jersey municipality where either party resides. The license is valid throughout New Jersey.

However, due to the public health emergency, please contact your local registrar first to determine if they are still open for business at this time as they may be closed to protect the health of residents and workers against COVID-19.

The Governor has also announced an executive order that allows individuals to use videoconferencing technology for the licensing process and the marriage ceremony.

The requirement that a marriage or civil union be solemnized in the physical presence of an officiant and two witnesses can be satisfied through the use of live audio-visual technology, provided certain conditions are met.

The order also suspends the 72-hour waiting period between the license application and issuance, extends the period that a license is valid from 30 to 90 days, and waives fees imposed for the issuance of a second marriage or civil union license if the original has expired.

For more information, contact your local registrar.

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