Ceremonies in Ocean City, Maryland During the Pandemic
Bright-eyed spouses-to-be flock to the beautiful beaches of Ocean City annually so that the scenic backdrop of undulating waves surround them as they say, “I do.” Ocean City offers the newlyweds a family atmosphere and stunning views, allowing for perfect pictures and memories that last a lifetime for participants and loved ones alike.
With the current Covid-19 pandemic concerns, hotel venues, catering services, and wedding planners have compiled new, creative ways to ensure the happiness of couples and their loved ones on their wedding day despite the new regulations. These adaptations show the resilience of the community in Ocean City which means that they are ready to welcome YOU for your special day!
County Rules Create Changes
As the state gradually opens businesses, Maryland has increased regulations on weddings to keep people in our state safe. Governor Hogan permits weddings at 50% capacity of the venue, just like restaurant limitations.
The Clerk of Circuit Court has adapted the process to obtain a wedding license to include safety precautions in Worcester County. Now, you can do everything remotely. Couples can print out the application and once completed, send it in first-class mail, email, or at Worcester County Courthouse’s drop box on-site with the $35 license fee. The court states the mail must be sent at least three weeks before the wedding to allow processing. After the application is received, the Clerk of Court schedules a video conference for the administration of the oath. Concluding the process, the clerk mails the license. Worcester County validates the license for six months after the Covid-19 emergency lifts. For more information, click here.
Again, to reserve a beach wedding, Ocean City updated the process with technology. Once a couple obtains the license, they must contact an officiant. Then, the applicant must complete a form to request a beach wedding from the Town of Ocean City. Click here. The town office recommends that participants coordinate with the Ocean City Special Event Calendar to confirm a spot.
Venues Adapting to Regulations
With these rules, venues have adjusted meeting spaces and rooming facilities to impose safety above all else. Venues like the Princess Bayside Beach Hotel have had several inquiries for this season and are expecting an increase next year. The hotel has been helping couples reschedule or have a smaller beach ceremony or elopement. As the rescheduling has created a decrease in revenues, Director of Sales Danielle Rickett is preparing for tiny ceremonies and an updated schedule of events for 2021.
“If there are any new guidelines, we are up to the challenge,” stated Rickett, explaining their readiness to be prepared for any obstacle.
Similar to the Princess Bayside and their adaptations prohibiting receptions, the Residence Inn by Marriott Ocean City has been reducing size and having outdoor ceremonies on their pool deck and beach. However, although many planned events have been cancelled, there has been an increase of scheduling requests for fall and late summer events.
Following federal, state, and local guidelines, the Residence Inn by Marriott has been requiring masks in public spaces and setting hand sanitizer bottles in areas to protect their staff and guests.
“A lot of changes we have made will carry in the future,” said Sales and Marketing Manager Courtney Blackford at the Residence Inn, explaining how safety is at the upmost importance.
Planners Ensuring a Memorable Marriage
Amidst the new regulations, wedding planners by the beach are assisting brides and grooms with the necessary changes to ceremonies and receptions. The planners can adapt the location, date, and size to meet the needs of the couple and their loved ones with the safety guidelines. Barefoot Beach Bride, located on 5909 Coastal Hwy, has seen patterns of 10-15 people in a party and smaller, more intimate weddings.
“Right now, we have been working in the office planning weddings three or four times, until we eventually have to say they can’t make any more changes until three weeks before the wedding,” stated owner Jodie Noonan, showing how dedicated their team has been to promise the wedding day couples have envisioned.
Being a destination wedding service, Barefoot Beach Bride prepares for unique celebrations and outside parties. Noonan noticed people going on vacation would call up for an impromptu ceremony. Some have also just had the ceremony without the reception. If the party is missing a few people, she mentions that using a computer or phone provides the best way for loved ones at home to participate.
“We have always used technology during the weddings and learned that Google Meets is the easiest,” continued Noonan, explaining how video chat can fill this void.
Meeting the Needs and Wants of the Couple
Although the company has offered smaller packages and more options, most spouses-to-be postpone. The thought of not having the ideal situation, promising their love with everyone there, stops the couples from planning. Barefoot Bride has provided great support for any endeavor they decide.
“If they are not comfortable, they are not coming,” proclaimed Noonan, discussing how the virus has also imposed fear on the situation.
If a small ceremony does occur, Noonan allows the couple to dictate the use of masks and social distancing based on what they feel safe doing.
In the meantime, Barefoot Bride has been remodeling, like many other Ocean City businesses, to create a full-service venue space ready for any special day.
Catering: Promising Safety and Delicious Food
During these times, with a greater focus on sanitation, caterers place food safety and preparation at the top of the list of importance. The Residence Inn caters for their events and has hosted many buffets in the past. Also having their bar and restaurant open with social distancing and masks, servers safely deliver food with gloves and strategies to promote health. Now, they are creating new precautions in food preparation and continuing safe practices.
Eliminating the hot breakfast buffet, Blackford and staff have created a breakfast-to-go system. As they halted catering to address issues, they have ideas for changes that can continue to ensure sanitary food preparation and presentation. Plated options instead of buffets as well as plate covers are new plans that could distribute food at a wedding.
From having smaller, more intimate, wedding ceremonies to video-chatting with friends and family that cannot be there, couples are sharing their wedding ceremonies with the people that support them. Paving the way for future receptions, these changes will help add more technology and creativity to weddings in generations to come.