Weddings may take ‘uncomfortable’ new turn

Weddings may never be the same again, with some couples already having to add an extra note to invites, alongside RSVPs.

Planning a wedding is stressful enough – now combine the added layer of “Covid times” where couples have been forced to conform to new rules of etiquette.

Asking your guests to leave their kids at home was already an awkward request but now a wedding planner in the US has revealed couples are slipping extra notes into their invites, asking whether guests have been jabbed.

Jamie Bohlin, owner of Cape Cod Celebrations in Massachusetts, told The New York Times couples in the US are not being shy about questioning guests over their Covid vaccination status.

“I don’t get an email saying, ‘Should I ask our guests if they’re vaccinated?’” she said. “They just say, ‘We’re asking our guests.’”

In a survey of 1400 couples in August, 22 per cent said they were requiring guests to be vaccinated, according to wedding planning site The Knot.

“I don’t know that we’ve arrived at perfect etiquette yet when it comes to what to do,” Lauren Kay, executive editor at The Knot, told the publication.

“It’s such a tricky subject and it can be politically charged.”

Some couples are going as far as providing colour-coded bracelets that indicate which guests are fine with hugging and which want to keep their distance, while others have mobile testing sites set up, according to The New York Times.

In Australia, were not at the stage of having “normal” weddings yet, with the entire industry severely impacted by the Covid pandemic.

But once restrictions lift, asking guests whether they’re jabbed could very well become the norm as state leaders have made it clear certain freedoms rely solely on vaccination targets.

So far, in NSW, the state’s Crisis Cabinet has predicted October 18 as the day restaurants, bars and retail would open – but only for fully vaccinated people.

Sydney-based wedding and events planner Samantha Burke told there’s a bit of confusion regarding the wedding industry as things are constantly changing.

“At this stage, there’s no stipulation that guests have to be vaccinated to attend a wedding,” Ms Burke said.

She said currently, as it stands, micro weddings are able to go ahead with up to five guests as well as the couple and two witnesses.

“But we know in a few weeks’ time (once we hit the 70 per cent double dose mark in NSW) weddings of up to 50 people including receptions will be able to go ahead – but only for those that have been vaccinated.

“I’m sure it will be difficult for couples to manage and I’m sure people will feel uncomfortable asking guests if they’re vaccinated or unvaccinated.

“However, we don’t know if these rules are just a short-term fix for a few weeks/months or if this will be a long-term strategy from the Government.”

Ms Burke said through previous lockdowns and generally over the last 18 months “we’ve seen rules change around weddings every few weeks”.

“One week you can dance, the next you can’t. The number of attendees goes up and then back down. One week you can drink and eat while standing and the next we’ve had to provide a chair for everyone during canapes,” she said.

“So perhaps having to be vaccinated will also be something that changes with time.”

According to Ms Kay, couples in the US have set up “satellite bars” so guests do not have to stand close together in long lines for drinks.

“To avoid crowded dance floors, they are providing entertainment at tables, like tarot card readers, magicians and even aerialists,” she said.

In Australia the wedding industry – just like hospitality and entertainment – has copped a huge blow.

On the Sunshine Coast, a location lauded as “Australia’s premier wedding destination”, the industry was worth $55 million a year prior to the pandemic.

But according to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Tourism president Kerry Brown, the industry is reeling.

“Most brides come up here and they bring up their 80-odd guests who all stay in accommodation, they all eat in the restaurants and the economic impact is just staggering,” Ms Brown told the ABC.

While the Queensland Government is offering $5000 in financial support to small businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Brown said: “It’s nowhere near enough help.”

She said: “Most of these wedding venues are working around the clock to try [to] postpone and look after these couples.

“The couples are distraught. They’ve had so many changes, and it’s awful.

“I would love to see a lot more help for the wedding industry.”

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