British Columbia

Weddings cancelled after gatherings of more than 50 banned in B.C.

Provincial guidelines banning gatherings of more than 50 people are forcing large-scale events to postpone or cancel, including weddings that usually draw over 500 guests.

Banquet halls and temples offering full refunds or rescheduling for later dates

A home is decorated with wedding ornaments in Burnaby, B.C., on March 18. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Grooms and brides in B.C. are rearranging their upcoming nuptials after the province banned gatherings of more than 50 people — even though some couples were expecting hundreds of guests. 

Prashant Saxena was planning to get married in a big Hindu celebration with more than 250 guests this Saturday.

"We made the decision Tuesday night. We cancelled everything," he said. "The hall was very accommodating to us." 

The guest list has now been whittled down to 30 guests who travelled from out-of-town to attend. Saxena says it was the right thing to do.

"I don't think we can go around and say, 'Oh poor me, I can't have the wedding the way I want it,'" he said. "There's a lot of other people that are suffering a lot more."

Prashant Saxena says the guest list for his wedding has been scaled down to 30 people. (Martin Diotte/CBC News)

Celebrations cancelling, scaling back guests

Malkiat Singh Dhami, president of the Khalsa Diwan Society, says there's only one wedding scheduled for this Saturday at the Sikh gurdwara at Ross St. and Marine Drive in Vancouver.

"People are mostly thinking about postponing it," Dhami said.

"There are few people they still want to go ahead, but with very limited numbers of guests on both sides."

Malkiat Singh Dhami is the president of Khalsa Diwan Society at temple at Ross Street and Marine Drive in Vancouver. (Martin Diotte/CBC News)

The bride and groom for this weekend's wedding have agreed to limit their guests to immediate family.

Others are postponing their events once they've been given a new date in October or November. Dhami says some are willing to do mid-week ceremonies in order to secure a date.

The Sikh temple will remain open unless something drastic happens, he says, but the financial implications go beyond vendors and clients.

"There will be a big shortfall of revenues for the gurdwara too," he said.

The Sikh temple at 8000 Ross St. in Vancouver is opening at 5 a.m. everyday for people to pay their respects. (Belle Puri/CBC News)

Anu Kainth, whose family runs the South Hall Banquet & Wedding Palace, says they don't want anyone to feel pressured to go ahead with their events.

Kainth says all cancellations are being offered full refunds. Those who postpone will have credit for when they choose to reschedule.

Large wedding preparations still underway

Meanwhile, houses in Burnaby and Vancouver have been spotted tented and decorated — seemingly in preparation for large Punjabi weddings this weekend. 

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says provincial health guidelines are clear.

"Gatherings of 50 people and social distancing applies to weddings, and so people need to be mindful of that," he said. "They have to cancel."

Saxena says his bride's family was looking forward to their wedding celebration, but ultimately weren't able to travel to Vancouver.

"We want everyone to be safe. We don't want [our friends] to feel indebted that they must come," he said. "When the time is right, we'll do a big proper party then."

About the Author

Eva Uguen-Csenge is a multimedia reporter for CBC News in Vancouver. Get in touch with her at eva.uguen-csenge@cbc.ca or on Twitter @evacsenge for story tips.

With files from Belle Puri

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