Ocean County prosecutor says wedding ceremonies OK but not receptions
LAKEWOOD — Weddings that are compliant with social distancing can be held but it depends on where they happen.
A letter on social media attributed to Rabbi Aaron Kotler of the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva described plans for small "COVID-19 compliant" weddings at the Ateres Reva, a catering hall attached to a school. The letter said the plans were approved by "the authorities charged with COVID-19 enforcement."
Lakewood police, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, the Ocean County Sheriff's Office and State Police are all charged with enforcing Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders that prohibit gatherings of any size, including religious events.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said that his office had not approved any weddings or wedding venues to open, citing the governor's executive order, which also prevents non-essential businesses from operating.
"Wedding venues are non-essential. So to be clear, no wedding venues have been authorized by ... my office," Billhimer said.
However, if a wedding ceremony is held outside, it would be permissible as long as there is compliance with all orders, according to Billhimer.
Billhimer said compliance would mean having fewer than than 10 people including the bride, groom and person performing the service. Everyone also would have to keep their distance and wear masks.
"Ceremonies are a non-issue. Receptions at a venue is prohibited," Billhimer said.
Ben Inzelbuch, a special events coordinator for Lakewood police whose phone number is given as the contact to make arrangements for the weddings, did not return Townsquare Media's request for more information on Tuesday.
Lakewood is not the only place were wedding ceremonies have been happening. On Monday in Mercer County, a small wedding reception was held in the Lawrence municipal building's garden. Officials said four people and a judge participated, all wearing masks and keeping their distance. Friends and family in waiting cars honked their horns.
In Lakewood, Rabbi Kotler's letter said Ateres Reva would be available for weddings that begin with a "very small COVID-19-compliant religious ceremony, followed by a COVID-19-compliant dinner, with a one-man band, fresh florist, catered compliant Seuda (a Sabbath meal) for parents and immediate siblings, photographer, and video."
It said there would be a "limited ability" for others to offer congratulations from their cars, and that no building entry would be allowed under any circumstances for the "Mazel Tov" portion of the event.
The letter did not specify whether the ceremony would be held inside or outside.