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19th Jun 2020

Commitment ceremonies: The solution for couples forced to cancel their weddings due to #Covid-19

Jade Hayden

“It’s all about marking time.”

Helen Adams isn’t doing traditional weddings at the moment. Following the Covid-19 outbreak she, like most other people in the wedding industry, began seeking new ways of working.

After seeing photographer Katie Kavanagh’s poignant Covid-19, ‘Doortrait’ images, Helen started thinking about the countless couples who were forced to postpone their weddings – and what she, as a celebrant, could do to help.

“I started thinking about couples’ disappointment around having to cancel their big days and what they could do to mark that day,” Helen tells Her.

“There could be a lot of dread with that date coming up, combined with the restrictions and closures. A commitment ceremony is about two people spending a bit of time together and thinking about what they mean to each other.

“It’s all about marking time.”

Helen Adams

Commitment ceremonies involve different things for different people. While some couples may opt to have a ceremony on their doorstep, others may want to travel to a certain spot in the city that means something to them.

Some read poems, others listen to music. Similar to the service that celebrants provide, the ceremony is entirely focused on the couple, their relationship, and the moment that they want to remember.

“You’re not imposing anything,” says Helen. “You’re putting the couple at the centre and that’s the big difference.

“As a celebrant, you’re hoping to bring something to the ceremony that supports the couples and hopefully says everything about who they are. They are at the centre, that’s the key thing.”

Based in Dublin 8, Helen is (at the time of writing) permitted to travel anywhere inside the county.

As restrictions continue to ease, she is hopeful that she will be able to travel further as the summer progresses – and that more couples will opt to mark what would have been their big day with one that is smaller, but still holds significance.

“Usually I’d meet them and get to know them a bit,” she says. “We’d talk about how they met, their first kiss, the proposal, it’s their journey together and these key moments in their relationship.

“At the heart of it, it’s a love story.”

It was reported this week that 82 weddings took place in Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic. Figures released to RTÉ showed the disparity in ceremonies compared to the same period last year – a difference of over 3,800.

Most of the ceremonies were carried out with strict social distancing measures, as friends and family joined via Zoom or webcam link with as few people actually present as possible.

Helen says that over the next few months, couples will likely be permitted to have small gatherings, “but they’re unlikely to be anything beyond 50.”

“Everybody is looking for clarity now about how things can proceed,” she says. “Most people will have postponed to 2021 at this stage so people are looking to the future.

“I don’t see weddings of 200+ returning until well into 2021. Having a large scale wedding is a huge expenditure for people, no one wants to take that risk right now.”

You can follow Helen on Instagram, or enquire about organising a commitment ceremony, here.