The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is preventing couples in Santa Barbara County from obtaining a marriage license and holding the wedding ceremony.
The Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder Office closed its doors to the public in compliance with California Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s order as a precautionary measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
All marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies performed by the Clerk-Recorder staff are canceled until further notice, and they aren’t accepting new marriage reservations. All canceled weddings may be rescheduled without a fee, said Melinda Greene, chief deputy clerk-recorder.
“Marriage licenses are not considered an essential activity, so we have canceled our scheduled weddings through April,” Greene said. “The Clerk-Recorders throughout California are actively communicating and hoping to work with state agencies to come up with a solution to start marriage license issuance again.
“By law, our service requires the couple to physically appear in front of our clerk, and we need to validate the identity of the couple, so remote options do not comply.”
The county Santa Barbara Clerk-Recorder is creating a waiting list for couples who want a marriage license, and when operations open, workers will set up appointments and assign additional staff to the marriage desk to help with the demand, Greene said.
Couples can email email@example.com with their names and phone number to be added to the list.
“Please let us know if you have emergency circumstances that may escalate your priority,” Greene said.
County Clerk-Recorder staff perform about 1,600 marriage ceremonies annually and issue about 3,400 licenses each year, Greene said.
People with more questions can visit the Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder website at SBCrecorder.com. For those without email access, call 805.568.2250 and press the No. 2.
Santa Barbara County is known as a destination wedding location for many couples, and the area boasts several wedding-friendly hotels and premier venues for tying the knot.
Local hotels, entertainment spots and other wedding facilities were forced to make changes because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara is closed through April 15 over concerns of the coronavirus, and the hotel has taken a hit with cancellations for big gatherings such as weddings.
The Santa Barbara Zoo, a popular wedding location, is temporarily closed because of COVID-19 precautions.
Almost all planned weddings were rescheduled, but event organizers expect the summer to progress as planned, said Marc Borowitz, president of Rincon Events and Zoo Catering Services.
“Fortunately, all but two of our weddings between now and June 30 have selected to reschedule to either later this year or move to 2021,” Borowitz said. “We have some moving to 2021, with most moving to later this year, anywhere from late June to December.”
Twelve full-service weddings were planned for this spring through June, Borowitz said.
Wedding bookings next year are “already in full swing, and we hope for that to continue,” Borowitz said. “We know there will be challenges, but hopefully the zoo will be open soon and things will get back to normal.”
The Santa Barbara Zoo is a private nonprofit organization that relies on the revenues generated from ticket sales, private events, donations, educational programs, memberships, retail sales and concessions to sustain its operating budget, according to the organization.
The loss of these will have a “significant impact” on zoo revenues, Borowitz said.
“These funds will be nearly impossible to recoup,” Borowitz said. “The zoo will look to the community to support it through donations, memberships, online educational offerings and advanced bookings for events during this difficult time.
“While significantly impacted, the zoo is resilient, the animals remain well-cared for, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome our loyal guests back to enjoy this gem of a community treasure — our cherished little Santa Barbara Zoo.”