TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Don Guardian’s bill permitting virtual vow exchanges in New Jersey, a pandemic-era response to upended wedding plans and Covid-19 restrictions, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
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 bill (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. This bill is about giving people choices,” Guardian said.
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 less marriages performed in 2020 compared to 2019. Civil unions also dropped to 14 from 19.