Right and left, brides are postponing their weddings or canceling them altogether and eloping in a backyard.
The pandemic has put a damper on what is, for many, one of the most planned-out and happiest days of their lives.
It’s been made even more complicated by recent mandates issued by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear: venue capacity is limited to 50%, masks are mandated and social gatherings, at least in some cases, are restricted to 10 people.
For Erica Outlaw, a director at Ice House, an event venue in downtown Louisville, the rule about social gatherings can look like a double standard. And, it’s confused guests.
“You’re telling me that just because I’m going and renting a private space and I’m still within four walls that I can have 150 people, but if I have a field in my backyard I’m not supposed to have more than 10,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Since the start of the pandemic, about 80% of weddings for the year at Ice House have been either postponed or canceled. Some couples just don’t want to make guests wear masks, slash a wedding of 300 to 150 or miss out on a cocktail hour and open floor dancing.
Beshear has said his 10-person rule, announced last week, applies mainly to backyard gatherings: “Weddings that occur at a venue, or at a another group, business, entity that’s out there under other guidance is not limited by the 10-person rule,” he said last Thursday.
It comes down to an enforcement issue, he said. Venues have a “financial interest” in having guests follow rules.
“If you have an outbreak of COVID-19 at a wedding venue facility, if your staff comes down with it, you’re gonna have to cancel your weddings for the next two weeks,” Beshear said. “That same type of incentive or disincentive isn’t there with somebody’s home.”
It’s also a matter of sanitation that is expected at venues but not necessarily in a domestic setting, he said.
Outlaw said the added burden of mask enforcement is “not sustainable” for venues that are already taxed with more sanitation, more service staff, more expenses.
Some ceremonies may still happen with 30 to 50 people and be outside on the 10 acres, which has ample room for social distancing. The venue has sent memos to couples that guests are expected to arrive with masks on, she said.
As for enforcement, it’s a bit different for Whitehall, though, as staff aren’t there while the property is rented, with the exception of a security officer to make sure the property is respected. Still, couples haven’t balked at the guidelines.
“The brides have been fantastic,” she said. “I know they’ve been … on pins and needles. They’ve been anxious about it, trying to make up their mind what to do. It’s been rough on them and their families, but we haven’t had any bridezillas complaining.”
Whitehall has kept a flexible calendar for couples who just don’t feel safe rescheduling yet. About half of couples on the books for this year moved their dates, she said. Some couples who had their hearts set on the large weddings are now setting their sights on 2021.
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It comes down to what a couple wants to compromise: Do they want to be married now or married a certain way with a certain number of people?
“You could take the notoriety that you get from being in the pandemic, and it’s like people when they got married during the war – whatever war,” Grisanti said. “They adjusted to the times, and I think that’s probably what you could compare it to because you’ve got so many restrictions. They had restrictions on food and clothing and stuff like that where they just want us to keep away from each other.”
Outlaw, too, said it’s a matter of priorities: “We’ve seen a lot of clients that have really…just made the best out of this,” she said. “They’re committed to getting married. At the end of the day, you know, it’s about the two of them, and the love that they have for each other. … That’s what they want, and they’re chalking this up to ‘Hey, it’s a story we’ll be able to tell our grandkids one day.’
“And then on the other end you have a whole other set of brides and grooms that just want to still do things their way,” she said. “And it’s just not possible.”
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