Sunday, August 1, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 22

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on June 24th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 17

Weddings by the Sea isn't letting a global pandemic stop couples from saying 'I do'


Prior to COVID-19, Santa Barbara County-based company Weddings by the Sea already specialized in planning small, intimate ceremonies for couples looking to get married. But after the pandemic hit, things got even smaller. 

Wedding by the Sea is offering a special COVID-19 wedding package, complete with setting up virtual guest attendance on Zoom.

“There was a point where we weren’t doing anything,” Weddings by the Sea owner Catherine Forester told the Sun of the early days of stay-at-home orders. “We weren’t even sure if a ceremony on the beach was the right thing to do. So I created this as something that could be done in private, with just a couple. It was in one place, and we could practice social distancing so that everybody felt comfortable and safe.”

Love in the Time of COVID-19 is a full-service wedding ceremony package that maintains all the facets of the special day but also abides by the current COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. She calls it a “minimony.” 

The package includes every step of the wedding-planning process: preparing the marriage license, officiating the marriage, the bridal bouquet and groom’s boutonniere, the wedding arbor, professional photography, the cake, and more. The company also arranges for a Zoom livestream to accommodate the guests who won’t be there in person due to the pandemic.

One of the biggest advantages to the package deal, Forester said, is her ability to issue marriage licenses in Santa Barbara County.

“There are only three or four notaries in Santa Barbara County who can do so outside of the courthouse, and I’m one of them,” she said. “There’s a great need for that right now because the county is really backed up in that department. … This is an option for people who want to get married right now and don’t want to have to wait for one of the county courthouses to issue their license.”

So far, Forester said, Love in the Time of COVID-19 has been a hit. She said couples who were initially disappointed with having to replan their wedding ended up finding a silver lining in the money, time, and chaos they were saving themselves. 

“Some people are like, ‘We just want to be married,’” Forester said of her clients. “What it’s really all about is marrying somebody and making that lifetime commitment, not about the party necessarily. I think people are really taking stock of what they’re doing and what their priorities are. Having to go through rescheduling your wedding definitely makes you reassess your priorities.”

Forester plans to offer the COVID-19 package deal through July 15. And as restrictions begin to loosen, she expects some clients will opt for a slightly larger wedding party. She encouraged those interested to contact Weddings by the Sea through to find a way to make it happen while staying within health guidelines. 


The Santa Maria Public Library announced its virtual summer reading program, Imagine Your Story, on June 15. The pandemic-friendly program will allow participants to track their reading online through a new website operated by Beanstack software. After a participant registers at, they can begin reading to complete challenges and earn badges through the software. Community members can also opt for downloadable reading logs and activity sheets available at the library’s website. The library created specialized, age-specific programs for everyone from young children to adults, and at the end of the program there will be a grand prize drawing for each age group. While the library is closed until further notice from the county Public Health Department, patrons can keep finding motivation to read all summer long.

CenCal Health announced June 18 the appointment of its new medical director, Dr. Keith Emmons. CenCal Health is a publicly sponsored, community-accountable health plan for Medi-Cal in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and delivers care to about 1 in 4 residents in Santa Barbara County. According to a press release, “Emmons will initially lead the department of Health Services’ efforts in outpatient and inpatient medical support, and case management. … With his extensive background in managed-care systems, Emmons will support the health plan’s endeavors to uphold quality initiatives that promote efficient access to medical care for more than 180,000 CenCal Health members.”

Staff Writer Malea Martin wrote this week’s Spotlight. Send story ideas to 

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