The sight is charming and, in all but one respect, familiar.
A young couple in their wedding finery—his sharp suit, her elegant veil—are in church, completing their marriage formalities. She stands close at his shoulder as he writes in the register. The priest looks on, his elbow on the counter, avuncular and affectionate. An ornate metal crucifix in the foreground and a wooden one on the wall behind the couple sanctify the scene. But there is something else. Bride and groom are wearing cloth face masks that match their formal attire. The priest, too, wears a mask, and a plastic visor with an attached transparent face shield.
One year ago this photograph—made by Davide Bertuccio in the town of Barzanò, Italy—would have required interpreting. As 2020 ends, however, what it depicts is instantly clear. The scene is an entry in a new rubric, the COVID wedding. It exemplifies the awkward adjustments that people have been learning, to simply keep going in pandemic times.