Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, Former Journalists Have a Story to Tell –Starring a Wedding Business Built on Storytelling

It’s all but impossible to calculate the number of postponed and canceled weddings because of Covid-19 and related lockdowns. While economists might measure the damage in dollars, couples across New Jersey and the nation feel a more personal sting: untold stress, the loss of their wedding date, and not knowing when they might finally get married.

But a new business led by two career storytellers is trying to help couples tie the knot.

Storyteller Weddings, a Central Jersey/Jersey Shore-based wedding officiant, planning, and music business, launched recently with the goal of organizing socially distant, budget-friendly ceremonies in a pinch, held via video chat or outdoors. Run by two musicians and former journalists, Storyteller Weddings relies on their interviewing, writing and management skills to deliver compelling, heartfelt wedding ceremonies uniquely suited for each couple.

“We don’t want to see anyone unwillingly give up their wedding date,” co-founder Jack Murtha, who lives in Neptune and grew up in Brick, said. “We started Storyteller Weddings because we don’t want anyone’s story to go untold. And we don’t want couples to settle for anything less than their dream wedding—even if that dream looks a little different now.”

The idea of Storyteller Weddings began several years ago when Mr. Murtha officiated Castles’ wedding. Over the years, the longtime friends took on tasks for other ceremonies. Eventually, they noticed one thing that far too many weddings had in common: The ceremonies were a bore, ridden with clichés and recycled readings.

“Wedding officiants belong to the gig economy, and that’s no knock on them,” co-founder and Highland Park resident Tom Castles said. “But we realized that strong, reported storytelling could make each ceremony more gripping and memorable for couples and their guests.”

Mr. Castles and Mr. Murtha believe they’re the people to do it. Both New Jersey natives and Rutgers University graduates, they met almost 10 years ago while working for a chain of weekly newspapers covering Middlesex and Monmouth counties. They’ve covered much of the state, from New Brunswick to North Jersey, for digital media startups and enshrined newspapers and magazines. Mr. Murtha and Mr. Castles also have reported rich features on health care, technology and the media business.

So far, Storyteller Weddings has performed one wedding in the Covid-19 era. The socially distant ceremony in Asbury Park consisted of 14 people. Storyteller Weddings wrote and led the ceremony and handled vendor relations, from photography to floristry, in just four days.

Storyteller Weddings offers wedding officiated, planning, and musical services, at the last minute or months in advance. Healthcare workers receive a 10 percent discount on all packages booked before Labor Day. Readers can visit or contact Jack Murtha, for more information.

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