Mass gatherings are prohibited under the Revised Omnibus Guidelines, issued by the IATF to regulate activities during the community quarantine period. Nevertheless, a number of activities are allowed (and establishments allowed to operate). While there is no explicit mention of weddings, such ceremonies may be subsumed under “religious gatherings”, to be attended by not more than 5 persons in MECQ areas and 10 persons in GCQ areas.
The Revised Omnibus Guidelines also recognizes the authority of co-equal branches of government to issue their own regulations to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis. Under the Constitution, each branch of government (executive, legislative, and judiciary) are independent. The Supreme Court, which has control and supervision over the entire judiciary, recently issued Administrative Circular No. 40-2020 dated 15 May 2020, providing for guidelines for courts in areas placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from 16 to 31 May 2020, and Administrative Circular No. 39-2020, for courts in areas placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).
These regulations cover wedding ceremonies, among others. Under the Family Code, judges have the authority to solemnize marriages. The following may act as solemnizing officers, pursuant to the Guidelines on Judicial Solemnization of Marriage: Justices of the Supreme Court and other appellate courts and Judges of the Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, Judges of the Shari’a District Courts and Shari’a Circuit Courts. It is important to note that the absence of authority of the solemnizing officer renders the marriage void from the beginning.
Under the relevant guidelines, civil weddings during the community quarantine period may be solemnized, provided that:
- The parties, witnesses and guests shall not exceed five (5), notwithstanding the Guidelines on the Phased Transition from ECQ to GCQ which allows a maximum of 10 individuals during mass gatherings in the GCQ areas.
- The health/hygiene protocols and other public medical standards, e.g., wearing of face masks and face shields, subjecting everyone to a no-contact thermal scanning, and observance of social distancing, shall be strictly observed during the ceremony.
The foregoing means that in addition to the future spouses and the minimum 2 witnesses required under the law, only one more guest may be accommodated to join the wedding ceremony. The foregoing also means that snapping the wedding photo may be a bit tricky, with the required face mask and face shields.
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