Amid COVID-19 pandemic, former New Jersey journalists launch wedding business built on storytelling

The number of postponed and canceled weddings due to COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns have caused stress, the loss of a wedding date, and uncertainty about when a couple 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 this month 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, according to information provided by its founders.

“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 in the statement. “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 Murtha officiated fellow co-founder Tom 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, according to the statement.

“Wedding officiants belong to the gig economy, and that’s no knock on them,” Castles, a longtime Middlesex County resident said in the statement. “But we realized that strong, reported storytelling could make each ceremony more gripping and memorable for couples and their guests.”

Castles and 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 Greater Media Newspapers, the predecessor to Newspaper Media Group/Packet Media LLC, 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. Murtha and Castles have also reported rich features on health care, technology and the media business, according to the statement.

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, according to the statement.

Storyteller Weddings offers wedding officiant, planning and musical services, at the last minute or months in advance. Healthcare workers receive a 10% discount on all packages booked before Labor Day.

Readers can visit www.storytellerweddingsnj.com or contact Jack Murtha at jmurtha7@gmail.com to book their no-cost consultation.