VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Now that B.C.’s top doctor has cleared the way for smaller wedding receptions to happen this summer, there’s still confusion about some restrictions in place.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday, “Music is starting, but dancing, we’re going to wait just a little bit longer for the dancing and singing.”
Maureen Brown, who runs Surrey-based Emerald Events, says Henry’s hard no has some clients scrambling to make adjustments — especially those expecting to dance at their receptions.
According to B.C.’s restart plan, the earliest dancing at an event like a wedding could be allowed is July 1.
So, according to Brown, people exchanging vows before Canada Day are not happy.
“It’s a deal-breaker for a lot of people,” she says. “The all-night dance party, the first dance, the dance with your father — it’s those kinds of things … I think that people are okay with events that ended at 10 o’clock if they could have had those elements. It’s a really big difference.”
You’re not allowed to have more than 50 people celebrate with you and tables are still limited to no more than six seats. Wedding receptions are limited to sit-down dinners.
“The bride and groom can’t go from table to table. Grandma can’t go and greet people. Everybody has to come in, they have to sit at their table, they get their food and beverage service at their table, and stay at their table,” Brown says. “It’s kind of tough.”
Cherry Wong, an event planner for a local hotel adds some rules aimed at ensuring guests stay far enough apart will still apply.
“Each table we need a certain distance to keep everybody safe. So for example, while you can host around 50 guests, right now I think the maximum number [should be] 30 guests. You need to very careful about your floor plan,” she says.
And despite the easing of COVID restrictions, Wong adds some clients are still opting to get married outside.
“The outdoor space is very popular by the couples especially like golf courses, and some public park, or private homes, the backyard and also the winery,” she says. “Hotels are still a good option for the couple — especially some hotels that have an outside space.”
Brown says she’s seeing more bookings heading into the fall in anticipation of more restrictions being lifted or eased.
“I booked three weddings for August in the last couple weeks. And the fall is looking super busy,” she explains. “Normally, the fall is fairly quiet, but I’m getting inquiries every day for September and October weddings … usually, people book about a year out.”
Especially if you’re hoping to have your wedding reception at West Vancouver’s Beach House restaurant, you have to wait at least another month.
Eric Holland, the VP of Operations for Earl’s restaurants, says they’re not rushing to book anything big before mid-July, but they’re already inundated with requests.
“The minute the opening plan that Dr. Bonnie Henry laid out came out, it was like the phones, the emails started coming in right away –weddings, birthday parties, corporate dinners. Even though the restriction allows us to begin taking parties over six, we’re actually going to start the event process on the 16th.”
He says The Landing, which normally seats up to 90 people, is also holding off booking any events which may include dancing until that’s made clear by the BC’s top doctor.
And come the fall, Brown says we may see prices increase.
“Vendors have pretty much been keeping their prices consistent with pretty much their 2019 pricing, or pricing that they had laid out for 2020,” she says, adding prices for flowers to catering will increase.
Even without dancing and the ongoing restrictions, Brown says planning an event now can still be special.
“People have to be flexible. It may change tomorrow, and if something happens with variants, things may roll back, so we just have to roll with it. We have to do the best we can. It might not be the perfect wedding that you planned, but it will be the best wedding that you can do.
“I think people are going to look back at this time and realize it’s so unusual … They’re gonna look back at this and they’re gonna be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we had a wedding during the pandemic, and we made it work.'”