Can even love overcome COVID-19?

That’s a question that may or may not be answered this Sunday (Feb. 14) as couples throughout the North and across Saskatchewan look for unique ways to celebrate their fondness for one another in an ever-changing world.
When it comes to the pandemic, however, one thing for certain is the number of would-be weddings it has affected in the past year. According to Meadow Lake area resident Heather Heddon, a certified marriage commissioner, fewer people have swapped vows since the start of the coronavirus conundrum.

“COVID-19 has impacted things significantly,” Heddon remarked. “I had numerous cancellations back in the spring for all the summer weddings.”

Although each year is different, Heddon said she performs approximately 10 wedding ceremonies a year, and had about the same number of cancellations since the pandemic was declared last March.

“A lot of people either postponed indefinitely or changed their weddings completely in terms of numbers,” she said. “Attendance had to be very, very low, and I did some of them. I had about 10 cancellations, but I still get the odd booking on short notice. As a marriage commissioner, a lot of the weddings I perform are small to begin with, but so many were called off last year, especially by those who did have bigger weddings planned.”

Numbers remain low at the moment, but Heddon said winter is usually quiet and she is optimistic things will pick up again by the spring.

“It all depends on the pandemic and how COVID-19 is progressing,” she said. “A lot of the people who cancelled last spring are looking forward to this year. A lot of them still want to have the big wedding. I’m hopeful COVID will soon be under control, but I have no way of knowing that.”

Heddon has been a marriage commissioner since 1995.

“I didn’t pursue it at first – rather I was contacted by the justice department and asked if I would do it,” she explained. “I worked in a government office at the time and a lady came in one day from the North asking how to get married, stating she didn’t want to go to a church.”

Heddon called around and learned the necessary process. A few days later she was contacted by the justice department and asked if she would be interested in becoming a marriage commissioner.

“There was only one person (in this role) at the time and he was soon to retire,” she added. “A few days later a package arrived in the mail with all the things I needed, and they appointed me. Because I was already a government employee with all the background checks, it was an easy transition.”

The most rewarding part of the role, Heddon said, is the ability to make couples happy.

“I especially like the weddings that happen on the spur of the moment,” she said. “Those are always exciting.”

Meanwhile, in celebration of Valentine’s Day during the ongoing pandemic, the provincial government is encouraging people to show their loved ones how much they care by keeping them safe from COVID-19.

“At this time, public health does not recommend the sharing of gifts, chocolates, or food in schools and at workplaces,” noted a recent provincial news release.

If planning a date with your special someone, the province also encourages people to consider staying in.

This isn’t the only option, however, as several local restaurants and other businesses are offering special menu items, service specials and other unique products to help create a memorable yet safe Valentine’s Day experience.

by Phil Ambroziak