Lakewood wedding plans on hold after Murphy disapproves
LAKEWOOD — A plan to allow weddings in spite of a state prohibition on all social gatherings during the pandemic has been put on hold, according the mayor and a group of Jewish religious leaders.
A wedding ceremony was to take place at the Ateres Reva, a catering hall attached to a school, according to a letter attributed to Rabbi Aaron Kotler of the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva, who said the plan had been approved by "the authorities charged with COVID-19 enforcement."
As word of the letter spread on social media, Ocean County Bradley Billhimer threw cold water on the plan and said he had not authorized any weddings or approved weddings in Lakewood or any other municipality.
"Wedding venues are non-essential. No wedding venues have been authorized or approved by the my office," Billhimer said in an email.
Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a spokesman for the Lakewood Vaad, which is a group of local religious leaders, told Toqwnsquare Media that the plan is "suspended for now" as there was concern about how it was set up.
"As of now things are sort of in limbo," Weisberg said, adding that it's "a work in progress."
Weisberg said that some couples were interested in the plan.
"The idea was that the ceremony itself would be in a large indoor space but it didn't work out," Weisberg said.
Murphy at his daily briefing on Tuesday spoke against the plan and against gatherings of any kind.
"Listen, I want to gather as much as the next guy, but we can't allow that to happen," Murphy said.
Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coles told both NJ.com and the Asbury Park Press that the plan was not going forward.
The wedding event would have included a small COVID-19-compliant religious ceremony, followed by a COVID-19-compliant dinner, with a one-man band, fresh florist, catered Sabbath meal for parents and immediate siblings, and a photographer, according to the letter.
Billhimer said a wedding in compliance with the emergency order 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.
If a wedding ceremony is held outside, it would be permissible as long as there is compliance with all orders, according to Billhimer.
"Ceremonies are a non-issue. Receptions at a venue is prohibited," Billhimer said.