As the world began shutting down one year ago, Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray immediately thought of all the weddings scheduled to take place at Hempstead Town Hall that week. The Town Clerk’s staff quickly reached out to all those who were scheduled to wed in the coming days and offered them the opportunity to have their marriage ceremony held outside on the steps of Town Hall, in the first “socially distant” ceremonies. On March 18, 2020, as schools, businesses and governments around the state were silent, more than a dozen couples at Hempstead Town Hall were the last ones to have in-person weddings for quite a while.
“A wedding day is one of the most meaningful days of a person’s life and to think of all these couples losing the opportunity to proceed with their ceremonies with just a few days or hours’ notice broke my heart,” said Murray. “While safety was of paramount importance, Supervisor Don Clavin and I realized that we could perform the weddings of the couples scheduled for that week on the steps of Town Hall and still allow them to marry in a safe manner before the full shutdown was implemented.”
As couples who were scheduled to marry across the state were being turned away, Town Clerk Murray had couples from other jurisdictions coming to her to be married. The Town Clerk also offered couples a “curbside” marriage license option, which brought people from throughout the state to Hempstead Town to safely secure a license which would allow them to marry.
“As appreciative as these couples were, I was just as grateful to have the opportunity to help as many people as I could in the midst of one of the most terrifying and confusing times any of us have experienced,” noted Murray. “While my office saw the worst side of the pandemic as the numbers of death certificates we issued skyrocketed, the joy of seeing couples join their lives together became even more meaningful.”
“As weddings were cancelled or postponed across our nation, Town Clerk Kate Murray made sure that couples in America’s largest township could quickly amend their plans and celebrate their special days in a safe manner,” added Supervisor Clavin. “I commend Town Clerk Murray for her leadership and ingenuity to continue providing vital programs and services to residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Following Murray’s wedding marathon, weddings in the state were not allowed again until an executive order by the Governor allowed marriage officers to officiate weddings virtually. Since that time, Town Clerk Murray and her staff have performed approximately 400 ceremonies via FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom.
“Having performed more than 200 of those virtual weddings myself, I have so many beautiful memories of some of the most touching stories you could imagine,” concluded Murray. “From the couple who wanted to be married before one of them lost his battle with Cancer, to the nurse and her now husband who wed in the car while she was on a break from helping critically ill Covid patients, to the funeral director and her husband renewing their vows after a harrowing year where the funeral home could barely keep pace with the influx of death, they epitomized the notion that love conquers all.”
For information on marriage licenses and ceremonies, please call the Hempstead Town Clerk’s office at (516) 812-3014, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.