Should I still postpone my wedding?
With social distancing restrictions in Ottawa and all over Canada starting to relax, more businesses reopening, and gathering sizes increasing, the question on every couple's mind with a late summer (and onward) wedding date is whether or not they should still postpone their wedding.
It's hard not to feel hopeful as the May-long weekend saw significant easing of restrictions on social distancing. There is a lot to consider when exploring how the city will reopen and how reduced restrictions will impact the event industry.We already know that events are off-limits until the end of June, but with the maximum gathering expected to increase to ten people in a group within the next week or two, outdoor micro wedding ceremonies and elopements might well be within reason.
Receptions, on the other hand, are a whole different mess of logistic difficulties. Maintaining the required 6' distance between guests will be near impossible. There are certainly ways to get creative like bringing in cafe style tables and seating guests only with their immediate household partners. But then there's the matter of shared access points such as washrooms. Perhaps, in the smaller scales, we could see a scenario of including sanitizing wipes in the facilities for each guests to wipe seats, handles, taps, etc. before and after use, or hiring bathroom attendants to sanitize between each use.
It is widely expected (read: hoped) in the wedding industry that events of 25 or even 50 might be allowed by late season. It is important to consider, though, that those maximum gathering numbers also have to factor in the wedding vendors (planners, photographers, videographers and DJs at a minimum), as well as the serving and bar staff. So a private event allowing a maximum of 50 guests might actually look more like 35 once all of those other people are factored in.
Some of the likeliest difficulties, though, will be the self-enforced measures. Weddings, by nature, are an intimate experience. Hugs, kisses, close dancing, group photos and multiple beverages all lend themselves to a near impossible scenario of maintaining that 6' rule, even when the best of intentions are present.
Beyond the logistics of the day itself, there is also the matter of travel and accommodation to consider. Will provincial or national border restrictions be lifted in time for guests to make their way to the wedding? And will additional measures, such as thermal screenings, need to be taken in the event that guests are not local?
Finally, and possibly the most important consideration in terms of the feasibility of a 2020 season wedding, is whether guests will even feel comfortable and safe attending. Experiencing a global pandemic is not something that is quickly or easily forgotten. Until there is a tested vaccine that is readily available to the masses, it is likely that post-traumatic fear will linger with many. Even if all restrictions are lifted by mid-summer, we are likely to see a good majority of people acting cautiously, limiting outings, wearing masks and gloves, and avoiding too much direct social interaction.
So, what are our thoughts on the big question that is on every couple's mind? When our own couples ask us whether they should be exploring a postponement we ask them to consider what their biggest priority is. Do the care most about the legal act of getting married? Are they only interested in the big reception party with all of their friends and family? Or, perhaps both pieces are equally important priorities for them.
If the priority is to officially become legally wed, then we recommend planning for a micro wedding or a stylized, local elopement this season, once it is safe to do so.
If the priority is the party, then we recommend postponing to 2021 to be safe. The last thing we want our couples to experience is getting one or two months out from their date only to discover that restrictions are becoming stricter again due to a second wave in the fall or an increase in confirmed cases following relaxed guidelines.
If the priority is both the marriage and the celebration, then we suggest our couples do an intimate ceremony or stylized, local elopement this season, and postpone their celebration with all of their guests until the 2021 season.
DISCLAIMER: we are not medical professionals, nor do we have confirmed insights from city and medical officials beyond what is disseminated publicly. The preceeding is a matter of professional opinion only.