Nova Scotia wedding planners toast eased COVID-19 restrictions
Questions remain unanswered about capacity at receptions, rules around dances
Wedding planners in the province say they're thrilled the Nova Scotia government will be further easing COVID-19 restrictions next month.
As of July 3, outdoor events organized by groups like businesses and churches are permitted to have 250 people in attendance. Events held at indoor venues can have 200 people.
Claudia Habib, of the Halifax-based Simply Weddings, said the announcement was cause for celebration.
In her 17 years as a wedding and event planner, she's had to deal with conferences being cancelled, hurricanes, rain storms and power outages.
But she called COVID-19 the "weirdest" curveball of her career.
"I had one couple who had a plan for the 50 [and] were hoping to get 100," Habib said. "And now because we're at 200 potentially inside, if the venue can make it work, then it becomes something else ... it's challenging for sure."
Her busiest months for weddings are August and September. Many of the people Habib works with have large families, so the previous 50-person limit would have meant guests being restricted to immediate family.
"They're happy they can potentially invite friends as well as family to make it more of a celebration," Habib said.
But a 200-person limit doesn't necessarily translate into 200 guests. Habib said much of it will depend on the venue.
The province says venues can only operate at half capacity, up to a maximum of 200 people. Physical distancing must be maintained.
The province later clarified gathering limits for social events apply to the guests or patrons at the event. It does not include staff working at an event because that is their workplace.
"That could restrict the number even more," she said. "So there are a lot of things to factor in when figuring out what that final guest number is and if the vendors are included in that number. There's still lots of things we need to work through."
Katelyn Hipson, a wedding and event planner with Elegant Productions in Halifax, said news that weddings could be larger was "like a little light at the end of what sometimes can feel like a very long tunnel."
She said the pandemic postponed many of her June weddings.
"We started off our wedding season with about 30 events on our books and as of [Friday], 28 of those 30 weddings have postponed, many to 2021 and a few actually to 2022, while we ride out this COVID storm," Hipson said.
Some couples have scaled back their weddings so they're smaller. Hipson said newer clients are looking to hold smaller gatherings.
"Love and marriage are not cancelled, parties were just cancelled for a little while in 2020," she said. "Thankfully, people are willing to wait that out a little bit so they can still have that celebration in our post-corona lifestyle."
Hipson said 2020 was supposed to be a huge year for weddings. Prior to the pandemic, Hipson said her business, now in its ninth wedding season, was on track to have 350 weddings by the end of this year.
How will dances work?
With the weddings that are moving forward this summer and into the fall, one of the biggest questions revolves around the dance floor and physical distancing.
"If we have a dance, do we indicate spots on the dance floor where people separate just to keep them apart or do we break out four dance floors in the corners of rooms? ... There's been different ideas tossed around," Habib said
"It really has to be looked at in the event lens depending on what your event is. Obviously a public festival or something outside is a little bit different, but there's lots of questions still."
Hipson said she doesn't know if she'll be recommending dances at weddings in 2020, other than the couple's first dance. She said she's heard of some venues putting stickers on the floor so people can keep a safe distance.
"I'd probably say let's move toward a more entertainment focus, where guests can sit back from the comfort of their tables," she said.
Keeping everyone safe
In terms of dancing, the province said it's a type of activity that would need to be adapted to allow for physical distancing, but it did not offer guidance on what it should look like or how it should be done.
Meanwhile, Habib said that while this year is "going to be more tricky," the important thing is her clients are "willing to work on being as safe as possible to make sure we don't go back to a lockdown situation."
Hipson agrees. She said she's also waiting to hear more news about travel restrictions easing.
She said there are usually many guests attending weddings who have to fly in. She also said Nova Scotia is becoming a popular spot for destination weddings.