Covid wedding confusion tying brides-to-be in knots

While certainty has now been provided over the numbers that can attend weddings, there are still questions over guidelines for the likes of venues and photographers 
Covid wedding confusion tying brides-to-be in knots

Tony Barry and Anna Killeen, from Dublin, outside the Government Buildings in Dublin, before presenting health and safety guidelines seeking to raise the guest limit for wedding receptions to 100 guests from August. Picture: Damien Eagers

Here come the brides, all dressed in white.

Instead of walking down the aisle, a group of five brides-to-be had a bridal procession down the steps of the Department of Health on Tuesday morning.

Wearing white dresses, and holding signs that said "love is not cancelled" and "celebrate without you", representatives from the sector marched to Government buildings to express their frustration with the lack of clarity on weddings.

Currently, just 50 guests and the bride and grooms can attend weddings under public health guidelines, with the Government originally planning to increase this to 100 by August.

However, last week Tánaiste Leo Varadkar threw the hopes of this into doubt when he advised couples to plan for just 50 guests in light of the Delta threat.

The Government did a further U-turn on Tuesday, when it confirmed the number limit would rise to 100 from August 5.

The confusion over the past week was just another blow for the many hopeful couples who have been intending to tie the knot over the past year.

Ali O’Mara, a Dublin bride, is getting married in Clare next, week after a 14 month delay.

“I had 200 on our first list. To find out 14 days before your wedding, that the number might fall again with no guidance in between was stressful. The level of vaccines in our guests was about 90% so it was hard to rationalise that,” she said.

“It’s not about who you think should be there, or what other people will think. 

We postponed it because we wanted to have a safe event and there’s people that we really want to be there, that are fundamentally important in our lives and that’s what we’re holding out for.

Orla O’Huadhaigh, who is due to get married in Laois, said the past year and a half has been “really tough”.

“I’ve postponed it three times. My fiance hasn’t seen his family in over a year, he’s from the UK. It would just be really great if we could relax into it but I feel like we can’t because it’s just stop and start,” she added.

Wedding International Planners Association Ireland president, Tara Fay, right and Vice President, Michelle McDermott. Picture: Colin Keegan
Wedding International Planners Association Ireland president, Tara Fay, right and Vice President, Michelle McDermott. Picture: Colin Keegan

Paudie Herlihy, a father-of-the-bride from CastleIsland in Kerry, said his daughter’s wedding in September had several guests from England due to attend.

The latest confusion over permitted numbers threw the “whole thing in disarray”.

“People had to cancel their flights after everything had been paid for. I can sense the frustration of the families, who don’t know if they’re coming or going,” he added.

While clarity has finally been provided on the numbers permitted, the sector is still seeking additional certainty on the way in which the events should proceed.

Tara Fay, president of the Wedding International Professionals Association (Wipa), called for specific guidelines for the sector.

“A lot of weddings don’t just have it in hotels. The only guidelines, currently, are two pages of Fáilte Ireland for hotels,” she said.

Weddings happen in marquees. There have to be guidelines for venues, for photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists. There are lots of different people feeding into the industry.

She added: "We have developed comprehensive guidelines. We urgently want to engage with Government on this.” 

Tony Barry, from Claire Hanley Catering company, said there are currently more questions than answers for service providers.

“We feel a bit neglected with every other sector being given the go-ahead before us. There’s just been nothing said to us,” he said.

“We’re looking for information on curfew, if you’re allowed to dance at the table; there are thousands of things that need to be answered.”

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