Just because we’re in a circuit breaker period, it doesn’t mean marriage plans have to stop. Couples are still getting married during this circuit breaker period. How? Through video links from their very own home.

Jeremy Gan, 28, and Lim Ding Yi, 26, had planned for a May 8 wedding—an auspicious date in the Lunar calendar—since the middle of last year (2019). But the Covid outbreak scuppered all their nuptial plans.

The couple, who has been dating for the past six years after meeting as students at the Nanyang Technological University, did not even know when they could solemnise their marriage, given the Circuit Breaker restrictions to stem the outbreak that started on April 7 and all the uncertainties surrounding it.

32 Couples Get Married During Circuit Breaker
Image: MSF

In early April, it was reported that solemnisations that were scheduled during the Circuit Breaker have to be postponed, with appeals heard on a case by case basis.

When the laws were changed to allow for solemnisations via video links – beginning Wednesday (May 20)—the couple decided to take the option. They were one of 32 couples to do so, becoming part of the first group to ever get married via video link in Singapore.

The 32 couples include both civil and Muslim marriages, said a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) spokesman. This compares to an average of 50 to 60 civil marriages solemnised daily last year.

The Gans said they decided to take the video link option instead of postponing their wedding further because they did not know when everyone would be allowed to gather again. They had two laptops set up in their new home in West Coast—one connected to their solemnisor Joanna Portilla who was at the MSF building in Thomson and to close friends and family through the Cisco WebEx video conferencing tool. Both the couple’s parents and Ding Yi’s five bridesmaids witnessed their vows from their respective homes.

They had a second laptop where about 60 of their friends, connected through video conferencing tool Zoom, “joined” the couple in celebrating their big day virtually.

The bride, dressed in a white Midi dress, and the groom in his office attire, became Mr and Mrs Gan on Wednesday (May 20) morning in a 45-minute ceremony.

Ding Yi, a programme executive, said: “I was quite happy with this arrangement as we could ‘see’ everyone. In a way, our friends and family celebrated it with us. It was quite cosy.”

32 Couples Get Married During Circuit Breaker
Image: MSF

Jeremy, an analyst, said the ceremony went well except for a glitch at the start when his wife’s parents had problems connecting.

But the couple is glad they finally managed to say I do. In fact, they met up in person for the first time since April 7 when the circuit breaker started when they moved into their new flat the night before the solemnisation.

They plan to hold a small celebration with their immediate family to celebrate their nuptials when gatherings are allowed.

In the light of the outbreak, the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnisation and Registration of Marriages) Bill was passed on May 5 and it allows couples to solemnise their marriage via a video link.

MSF Minister Desmond Lee said 2,723 couples were scheduled to have their marriages solemnised between April 7 and June 1, but had to postpone their plans owing to the circuit breaker measures.

He said: “While some couples may prefer to wait until it’s safer to celebrate their big day in person with family and friends, others may not wish to wait any longer, or may face extenuating circumstances that make postponement challenging. We want to support them.”

Joanna, an educator who solemnised the Gans’ union, said the ceremony was a first for everyone involved. Although she missed the physical presence where hugs can be exchanged, she said the video link option is still memorable.

She added: “There are some couples who prefer not to wait to register their marriages, like they want to hold it on an auspicious date or a date that is special to them. I also have some couples who are pregnant or a family member is seriously ill and they want their loved one to be around to witness their wedding.”

Under the new law allowing for solemnisations via video link, the parties may not be in the same physical location but they must all be physically in Singapore. Couples can be solemnised after completing the verification of documents online and making statutory declarations virtually.

On Tuesday (May 19), it was announced that from June 2, marriage solemnisations will be allowed to take place in-person again, with up to 10 people present.

Text: Theresa Tan / The Straits Times / May 2020
Additional text: Sally Manik
Image: Envato Elements