TRENTON, N.J. – The full Assembly on Thursday passed Assemblyman Don Guardian’s bill permanently permitting virtual vow exchanges in New Jersey, a pandemic-era response to upended wedding plans and Covid-19 restrictions.
Through a May 2020 executive order, New Jersey authorized couples to enter into a marriage or civil union via popular platforms like Zoom and FaceTime. However, the online option went away at the end of the public health emergency.
“Virtual weddings are convenient and cost-effective. This is one pandemic-era concept that everyone can come together on. It deserves a permanent blessing here in New Jersey,” Guardian (R-Atlantic) said.
The legislation (A2347) would not only allow marriage and civil union ceremonies to be conducted through live audio-visual technology, but also permit couples to obtain their licenses virtually.
“There are couples with immunocompromised family members or friends living around the world who are still incorporating some virtual element to their nuptials. Allowing people to livestream their love for one another is the modern alternative to traditional big gatherings,” Guardian said. “This is about giving people the freedom to design a ceremony that reflects their needs and values.”
While the state Department of Health did not collect data on how many virtual marriages occurred during the waiver period, overall marriages fell almost 17% with about 8,000 fewer marriages performed in 2020 compared to 2019. Civil unions, which have become few following the legalization of gay marriage in 2013, also dropped to 14 from 19.