COVID-19 and wedding suspension
While the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is meeting virtually, churches are meeting virtually, courts are sitting virtually and projects are being commissioned virtually, the bereaved are burying their dead, and the airlines have started flying; Ikoyi Marriage Registry recently suspended 4,000 weddings over COVID-19. This is curious and even disappointing.
The question is: why suspend wedding when burials are not? Why can’t marriages be conducted with the number in physical attendance restricted to only 20 witnesses and made to observe safety protocol? Why can’t Ikoyi Marriage Registry adopt virtual platform, which is the new normal? These questions have become germane because the post-pandemic world will be a different one, which no one can predict and there will be many factors to consider. For instance, are people feeling safe enough to gather yet?
Against the backdrop that a wedding is one of life’s biggest events and something couples have been planning and looking forward to for a while, a cancellation or postponement when there are alternative ways of conducting the wedding should be revisited, because in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty is the new normal. In addition, postponing weddings can lead to complications in arrangements with vendors and dealing with stress.
As such, Ikoyi Marriage Registry should carry out a reality check of its decision with a view to revisiting and contextualising it, given that COVID-19 is a reality that we have to live with for sometime. Instead of suspending weddings, the Registry should maintain restrictions on the number of people in attendance and observance of safety protocol should be strict. So, the Registry should be pragmatic and review the decision in line with the new normal and Federal Government’s guidelines, which recommend a maximum of 20 people in attendance at such gatherings including the couple, photographer, witnesses and close family members.
In addition, intending couples should be allowed to decide if they would prefer to put their wedding on hold or go ahead as planned and adhere to government guidelines for meeting and gatherings. Reason: some of the affected are already asking ‘‘why me?’’ They should be allowed to decide on what matters more to them: their wedding date or guest count? Those who are dead-set on an approaching date should be allowed but made to cut their guest lists substantially; while those committed to lots of guests should be allowed to postpone the celebrations far enough into the future to feel assured that they will not have to deal with another round of rescheduling stress and costs.
Meanwhile, there are certain codes of conduct that the Ikoyi, other marriage registries and even faith-based organs conducting weddings at this time should observe. The ceremonies should be kept as short as reasonably possible. There should be no food and drink to be consumed (unless required for the purposes of solemnisation). Speaking should not be in a raised voice and venues should be marked with floor tape to help people keep a physical distance as we have at the airports. Furthermore, receptions should follow the same protocol, while recordings instead of singing should be encouraged during receptions because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets when singing.
The institution called marriage is one of the oldest since creation. To so many, it is sacred. Through such sacredness, many peoples in the world came into being. And as the earth remains, the institution will continue to grow and the gates of any pandemic cannot prevail against it.
It is therefore curious why the authorities in charge of old marriage registry in Ikoyi, Lagos should stop one of mankind’s sources of fun, happiness, procreation, achievement and even philosophy.
After all, we can rely on these classics to make this case remarkable: Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister once mused, “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” And even Socrates, once counselled: “By all means. Marry; if you get a good wife, you will become happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher.” Why would travellers be allowed to even fly; revellers be allowed to celebrate, candidates be allowed to write examinations, worshippers be allowed to celebrate their gods while lovers are disallowed from legalising their union. So, what love has joined let no registry put asunder even at this time when love, yes love is the most needed weapon of social cohesion.