Planning a wedding can be a daunting task, but planning a wedding during COVID-19 takes the meaning of arduous to a new level.
Over the past 16 months, future married couples in Ontario have had to change their plans based on changing pandemic restrictions and rules.
Wedding dates, guest lists, room reservations and floor plans have all been affected.
Ashley Cyrenne and her fiance Adam Lemire changed their guest list five times from 130 to 25 due to capacity limits. She recently increased her list to 50 guests.
Engaged for more than three and a half years, they plan to get married on August 7 at Cooper’s Hawk, a winery in Harrow, southwestern Ontario, and have rented a tent that will be erected outside.
âWe really want to be able to dance,â said Cyrenne. âThat way we can have a few more people, like for example, in the list of 50 we had, we didn’t include our ring bearers and flower girls. We were sort of going to kick them out. after the ceremony, but that way we can have more people for dinner and dancing, which I was really looking forward to dancing with the little ones. ”
Cyrenne and Lemire get married on the same day her grandparents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Extended capacity limits
As of June 2020, under Ontario pandemic rules, no more than 10 people could attend a wedding reception. Then, stage 2 allowed indoor weddings with a capacity of up to 25%. Last week, capacity limits for indoor weddings increased significantly when the province entered Stage 3 of its Roadmap to reopen plan.
There is no capacity limit for indoor religious ceremonies, including weddings, as long as two meters of social distancing can be maintained.
Receptions have a capacity of 25 indoors or 100 outdoors, unless they are held in an event space, restaurant or other catering establishment. In this case, the site’s capacity can go up to 50%, provided that social distancing can be maintained, or 75% outdoors (or 5,000 people, whichever is lower).
But the capacity expansion that came with Stage 3 was too late for Kathleen Virban and Brendan Falkner, who will tie the knot in Windsor this Friday.
While they can’t add guests to their reception at this point, Virban’s parents and her fiance’s parents will each be holding the front yard gatherings before that, with up to 100 people.
Virban said it meant a lot to know that more people could be a part of their special day.
âRight now it is a feeling of overwhelming joy and happiness for my fiance and I,â she said, adding that both had large families.
The wedding was originally scheduled for June – with 500 guests – but it was called off in April when the stay-at-home order was implemented.
Couples aren’t the only ones who have had to contend with the curved balls thrown by the pandemic and the ever-changing restrictions.
Nicole Vallance, a wedding photographer in Windsor who typically booked her year in advance, said the recent announcement sparked a wave of last-minute adjustments.
âEveryone has had such a hard time trying to cut down on guest lists, and I mean, it’s hard in a normal wedding scenario, right? And then when you have those restrictions on top of it, it makes them even more difficult things, so having those numbers went up, I got quite a few emails from couples saying, “You know, I know we told you we were doing this. Now this is it. We add. It’s going to be 100 people. “”
Vallance said more than half of couples who planned weddings last year ended up postponing.
The guest rooms become the place of marriage
But weddings were a boon to a Colchester business. Magnolia Ranch, a bed and breakfast, unexpectedly became a venue for these ceremonies last fall.
âLast year, in September, we were immersed when one of the announcements was that you couldn’t have outdoor weddings in a private courtyard. We were called to say, ‘Can we have a wedding at your place next weekend? co-owner of Magnolia Ranch.
We just had to learn to be flexible, to pivot often, and to empathize with our bride and groom. We were losing financially, but they were losing the most important day of their lives.– Gloria Cavanego, co-owner, Magnolia Ranch
Cavanego had no intention of running the ranch for wedding ceremonies when she bought it, but since she started hosting outdoor weddings it’s been a lucrative business.
Last fall, wedding ceremonies could accommodate 25 people at a wedding if held in your own backyard, but an event held at a licensed facility could accommodate 100 people outdoors and 50 in the interior.
âI’ve been fundraising for 25 years so I’m used to outdoor events,â Cavanego said. âThe couples have been great to work with, and just seeing them on their most special day and they confide in us, there is a lot of pressure to make sure they have a beautiful day stress free, but that has been wonderful. ”
In 2020, the ranch was fully booked from September through November, but changes in restrictions this year have caused many wedding booking cancellations.
âWe just had to learn to be flexible, to pivot often and to empathize with our bride and groom,â Cavanego said. “We were losing financially, but they were losing the most important day of their lives.”