Contradictions and confusion still undermining confidence


A good news story of a wedding under lockdown has highlighted the confusion and contradictions over what is an isn’t essential:

A furore has erupted among the country’s wedding celebrants after a North Shore couple were allowed to tie the knot at their home despite the nationwide lockdown.

Jeff Montgomery, the Registrar-General for Births, Deaths and Marriages, is standing by his decision to let the couple go ahead with their special day, sending an email to all celebrants today stating it is up to them and their clients if they decide to get married during the 4-week lockdown period. . . 

But the Registrar-General emailed celebrants later saying it wasn’t up to him to decide if weddings should go ahead or not.

Weddings have occurred recently, for example when one of the couple is about to pass away, or because of religious requirements.

“It is up to the couple and the celebrant to consider how essential the wedding is and to work within the level 4 rules”.

“It is not the role of the Registrar-General to make decisions about whether or not a ceremony occurs. ‘Permission’ or ‘exemptions’ are not something that I have authority to issue and I do not make judgments on what services may or may not be essential.

“My role is to issue licences where the couple meet the requirements, to register celebrants who are expected to abide by the law, and to register relationships that have been legally solemnised,” he wrote.

That’s quite clear, so who can make decisions about whether or not a ceremony occurs?

In today’s briefing with media, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said weddings could go ahead as long as they abided by social distancing rules.

That seems clear, but what does the Covid-19 website say?

All indoor and outdoor events cannot proceed.

This does not include workplaces of people undertaking essential businesses.

If a wedding celebrant was running an essential business that might be okay but:

These requirements apply to family and social gatherings such as birthdays, funerals, tangi or weddings. These gatherings can not go ahead.

We are asking you only spend time with those who you are in self-isolation with, and keep your distance from all others at all times.

So there we have it – the Registrar-General quite rightly says it’s not up to him to say if a wedding is essential.

The DG of Health says weddings could take place as long as people obeyed social distancing rules.

But the COvid-19 website says weddings can’t take place.

The confusion and contradictions over this provide more grounds for having the guiding rule for what can take place under Level 4 lockdown what’s safe rather than what’s essential.

Providing everyone involved took the proper precautions to maintain social distance and either wash their hands or use sanitiser before and after touching the pen and paper work, it ought to be safe to have a wedding with just the couple, two witnesses who were already in their bubble and a celebrant.

But under the Level 4 rules no weddings are supposed to be taking place.

Changing to safety as the guide rather than essential would not only allow very small wedding ceremonies to take place, it would allow a lot more small businesses to open again.

That could save jobs, and businesses, take pressure over businesses like supermarkets that are open, and get rid of the confusion and contradictions over what is and isn’t essential.

What really matters?


In a story about celebrity weddings this paragraph caught my eye:

Barbara Williams and fiance Fakaanga Mapa, both 23, decided to delay their nuptials because they could not afford to make the day as special as they had dreamed. They had saved $15,000, but decided they wanted to invite more guests and provide better catering.

It reminded me of the true story of a vicar who was approached by a couple who had asked him to officiate at their marriage.

They wanted to postpone it because they couldn’t afford to do it.

He listened to them then said, “What really matters?”

The answer was their commitment to each other and celebrating that with family and friends.

They were married on the date originally scheduled with their family and friends present and had a party afterwards in the church hall. The church did the catering as a fundraiser and guests brought their instruments to form a band for the dancing.

The possibilities for spending money on weddings are vast but it doesn’t have to be that way and the expensive things are not what really matters.

Happily ever after


Dear Kate and William

In fairytales, couples marry and live happily ever after. In real life it’s not quite that easy.

When making the vows most think only of the better, not realising that often it comes only after, and sometimes because of, the worse.

You won’t have some of the pressure many others face in ordinary day to day life. But you’ll have others, not least that of being in the public eye.

Today your marriage ceremony is expected to be watched by 2 billion people, your every move will be recorded and dissected.

I will be among those watching and wishing you well. Some people are cynical about weddings in general and yours in particular. But I’m with Robert Saxton who said: In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.

While a marriage ceremony is public, and yours more than any other, you are making a private commitment. It will be in front of others but between the two of you. 

In spite of all the people watching, the vows you exchange will be made  to and for each other. It is only you two, alone together, who can honour and uphold the promises and make your partnership work.

You are having what many regard as a fairytale wedding but it won’t be a fairytale marriage. In real life there is no such thing but there are long and happy unions.

I wish you that and, in the words of Pinky Agnew:

May God grant you:

Enough love to give each other trust, Enough trust to give each other faith,

Enough faith to give each other strength, Enough strength to give each other courage,

Enough courage to give each other freedom, And enough freedom to give each other love.

Better than alright on the day


The signs for the wedding rehearsal on December 30th weren’t good.

It was taking place at Elephant Rocks and the wind was so strong the marquee had been tide to a ute.

But the weather gods were only kidding. New Year’s Eve dawned clear and nearly calm and the wedding ceremony was able to take place as planned.

In contrast to December’s rehearsal, we couldn’t have had better weather for the one at the Mill House at Waianakarua on Friday. It was 26 degrees with no wind as we stood on lawn under the trees. 

We didn’t even bother rehearsing plan B which was to move inside which I regretted when we woke up to rain yesterday. However, the wedding wasn’t until 2pm, by then the southerly had blown over and it was warm and calm on the lawn.

Perhaps it’s just been luck, but whatever has happened, or not, at rehearsals, it’s been better than alright on the day for all the weddings I’ve officiated at.

I’m not meaning just the weather, but everything else and that comes down to the attitude of the couples. They are there to commit themselves to each other and celebrate that with their family and friends. When they’re relaxed and happy about that everyone else is too.

When that happens, all’s right on the day, regardless of whether or not everything goes to plan. That provides happy memories for the couple and their guests and a wonderful start to the marriage.

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