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'It's A Nightmare': New Ban On Indoor Gatherings Throws Weddings Into Turmoil

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a number of bans and restrictions in a detailed response to how Australia is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. 

One of these is a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people as of today. A ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people has been in place since the weekend.

These moves essentially put a ban on weddings and if you're currently planning one, these words this morning probably left you with a knot in your stomach. I know it did for me.

As someone who is currently engaged and deep in the trenches of planning our perfect day with my partner, the recent spread of coronavirus hasn't spared many industries, weddings included.

And while in the scheme of things and the plethora of problems we face right now -- like schools remaining open, social isolation and working from home and of course, not being able to get access to basic necessities from the supermarket like toilet paper -- it can seem like a luxurious problem to have.

Weddings in the next six months will be impacted by the ban on indoor public gatherings of more than 100 announced today. Image: Getty

But contemplating whether or not you can go ahead with a day that symbolises your love for your partner and the joining of your two lives, well its understandably heart breaking.

Particularly for those who had weddings booked in within the next six months, the length of time these restrictions are said to be in place.

"Instead of looking forward to my big day, I’m more panicking and contemplating if we need to postpone our wedding because of this cornonavirus. I’m getting married on 17 April and it's an endless dilemma," said one bride.

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A Melbourne based bride said she and her partner had already made the difficult decision to postpone their wedding which was suppose  to take place next month on 5 April.

"It’s safest for the health of our guests and suppliers, would not want to take any risks. I am health professional, and feel relieved that we have postponed to be honest," she said.

I could not have gone through with it knowing the risk it poses, and I think the guests are also at different comfort levels in terms of attending. Everyone has been supportive and think it’s the wisest choice.

"I also think it would have ruined our day, in terms of stress and emotions. It’s meant to be a day you remember forever as a happy one with loved ones, not of a stressful one because of COVID-19."

Others who are getting married in the coming weeks have seen guests pull out due to fear of the virus as well as the travel bans that are currently in place in a number of countries.

"Our wedding is next Friday and around 20 overseas visitors have pulled out, this is so heartbreaking. I’ve contacted the venue to invoke the forced provisions of our contract to reduce the minimum spend, but I don’t like my chances," another bride added.

"We've cancelled our honeymoon too and I haven’t slept in days. I feel like crying all the time. It's a nightmare."

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However Easy Weddings, Australia's leading wedding directory, is urging couples to postpone or downsize their weddings instead of cancelling them, particularly those scheduled for the next four to six weeks.

“The health and safety of yourself, your guests and the overall community is the most important thing at the moment. If you can go ahead with your wedding in a safe way then we encourage you to downsize to less than 100 guests,” said Director of Trends & Insights, Elise James.

Your guests will understand if you need to cut down your numbers. If you are having an outdoor reception you might even be able to have more of your guests attend.

“Make sure you are communicating with your guests and your suppliers to ensure the safety of all involved. Otherwise, we recommend chatting to your suppliers about postponing to a later date.”

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A survey conducted by the website of more than 1900 couples found that a total of 65 percent of couples are concerned with the impact these measures will have on their wedding day.

In terms of couples marrying between March and May, 21 percent said they will postpone while another 5 percent will downsize.

Only 2 percent have made the decision to cancel their wedding entirely with the vast majority choosing to either go ahead (35 percent) or wait until other initiatives are put in place (35 percent).

Elise James. Image: Supplied

James said couples should wait for any updates as the response to coronavirus progresses and advises waiting four to six weeks before making any decisions.

“Weddings are a fairly recession-proof industry as there will always be couples who want to get married,” James said.

“These next few weeks and months will be tough for small businesses in the industry. We are urging all businesses to have a conversation with their couples to postpone weddings rather than cancel.”

James said while there will likely be negative growth in the wedding industry this year, she expects the postponements will cause a boom in 2021.

“Most couples who are postponing their weddings currently are looking at rescheduling to October and November this year. So we hope to see the industry start to build itself back up towards the end of 2020," she said.

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Currently most couples who are planning their weddings at the moment have dates set for September and onward, with 74 percent of couples stating they will continue their planning as per normal.

“The best thing you can do if you’re planning your wedding for later this year or early next year is to keep planning. The industry will need a lot of support over the coming months and your future wedding will help businesses and vendors ride out this storm,” James said.

“Above all we urge all couples and wedding suppliers to remain calm and remember that safety comes first.”

Featured image: Getty

Do you have a lifestyle story or personal experience to share with us? Reach out and tell us about it at vtodoroska@networkten.com.au