Note: this article is written at the beginning May 2020, in relation to Weddings in Ireland. The Irish government have released Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. The document has target dates (real dates may differ) for the implementation of Phases but understandably does not detail every rule or circumstance of the application of the high-level guide. Clarification is required for numbers that will be imposed on Small Weddings and Larger Weddings.
Dr Tony Holohan CMO answers wedding question at the end of this article.
00:00 to 39:00 min, is background and setting the scene, and explaining our stance and feelings.
39:00 to 102:26 min, Should I Postpone My Wedding and more questions on restrictions etc.
For a longer explanation and detailed work through read the Roadmap & Weddings.
The short of it:
Should I postpone/cancel my wedding due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus, SARS CoV 2)?
Most likely yes. In order to get an answer for your exact situation you will have to take into account: your wedding date in relation to restrictions, your health (x2), immediate family health, wider guest health, your societal concern, you ceremony location opening, your officiants availability, your venues opening, your venues facilities opening, your venues social distancing rules, the dining experience, the drinks reception experience, the dancing experience.
My Wedding is in April, May, June, July, should I postpone/cancel my wedding?
Weddings may not take place before 20 July 2020. Small Weddings may take place 20 July 2020 if Phase 4 is in place.
What is a Small Wedding?
I would estimate 20 people on the low side and 50 people on the upside.
I think we are talking in the low tens; I do not think a Small Wedding is going to be towards 100. In Phase 2 up to four people not of same household to meet outdoors while maintaining strict social distancing. Phase 4 allows for slightly larger gatherings for short period of time. This leaves me to believe we are talking small numbers and we are not talking scorers of people.
I want to get married and I will have a larger party later, when can I get married?
From the 20 July 2020 if Phase 4 is a action you can get married. Get your house in order with the HSE for legalities and contact your officiant.
My Wedding is in August 2020, should I postpone/cancel my wedding?
Most likely yes, but it is still possible it could happen. The target date for Phase 5 is 10 August 2020. If Phase 4 is in place you can have a Small Wedding. If Phase 5 is in place you may have a Larger Wedding. There will be uncertainty as to whether Phase 5 will be entered into until the week before 10 August 2020. This uncertainty makes it extremely difficult to plan a wedding, including inviting guests. This may cause unnecessary stress, heartache, effort and disappointment.
What is a Larger Wedding?
I would estimate 100 people, being hopeful I would say 150 people.
The wording in the roadmap speaks of 4 people moving to slightly larger. There is no hint of Larger being anything beyond 100. The last number restrictions on mass gathering was no more than 100 indoor and 500 outdoor.
My Wedding is in September 2020, should I postpone/cancel my wedding?
Most likely yes, but there is higher probability you can have a Larger Wedding (restricted).
In August, your venue should be able to tell you that whether they will be open and whether they can provide a bar service. The gathering may be restricted to 100 people. Social Distancing will be in place. Social Distancing will impact your ceremony seating, your drinks reception congregating, your dining seating, your dancefloor. If you can have a wedding under those restrictions and the uncertainty in the lead up to your wedding, then you can go ahead with your wedding plans. Otherwise you should postpone your wedding.
My Wedding is in October 2020, should I postpone/cancel my wedding?
No, if the potential of restrictions does not put you of having a wedding of 100 people. As of May 2020, you are potentially in the prime situation that on 10 August 2020 your venue will be able to tell you the bar is open and what service will look like. This gives you 8 to 12 weeks to put in place the go ahead with the wedding or to postpone.
I am having 120 people to my wedding, should I postpone?
No, most likely your will have drop offs. Or if you are trying to cull to a lower number to meet restrictions certain people will be more comfortable not attending for personal reasons. You must be happy with the restrictions and how they will impact your celebrations. You must clearly understand what the rules are for the ceremony and the rules are in the venue.
I am having 121 to 199 people to my wedding, should I postpone?
No, if you are happy to meet the lower number per restrictions. You can invite the must haves (some will not attend). You can invite wider friends and family with the request that if they have any concerns please do not feel obliged to attend, due to number restrictions you can only accommodate a certain number. You can do this in a staged approach.
Yes, you should postpone, if you do not want to get into managing restrictions and do not want to manoeuvre your wedding plans into an alternative societal gathering.
I am having 200+ people to my wedding, should I postpone?
Yes, unless you are willing to do the aforementioned. If you are having a big 200+ wedding and want to have a 200+ wedding and major party, then you need to postpone.
My Wedding is in November or December 2020, should I postpone/cancel my wedding?
No, the world and Ireland has changed dramatically changed in 8 weeks. It will most likely change multiple times over by November 2020. If you have zero tolerance for restrictions and uncertainty, then you may consider your options in the coming months. You do have time on your side more so than couples that have gone before you, but the time will come when you may be in as difficult a situation and have to make a decision.
When should I postpone my wedding to?
Your threshold to move your date multiple times will determine this. The less you want to manage the stress and planning of the event the further you should postpone to. In 2021 there may still be restrictions. At any point there could be a big bang event that end the COVID-19 problem. If you want to dice with that 3 or 6 month rolling wedding date until normality shows up, then that may be how you roll. That way you can have your wedding the way you want as soon as the world allows you to. Otherwise you best opportunity for a ‘normal’ wedding is 2022. The Irish government has laid out a 5 Phase plan to reopening society and business nut there is no mention of lifting restrictions.
The restrictions could be lifted completely if the health system can manage a low instance of the virus and disease in society. It may however be policy not to lift restrictions for a prolonged period. In 2021, numbers may still be restricted for gatherings and social distancing may be expected or a social norm.
Department of Health Daily Briefing – Weddings Questioning
Tuesday, 5th May 2020 Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer of Ireland answered questions on weddings. The Roadmap was release on the Friday, 1st May. Our long article was released on Saturday, 2nd May. Our FAQs above were released on Monday (4th May) accompanied by the Audio Podcast that was recorded on Sunday (3rd May). Tony’s answers confirm the uncertainty and cautious approach being applied to the crisis and re-affirms that the Roadmap is not a guaranteed time frame but a tool that helps the public have an indication of the process to reopening society and business, including weddings taking place.
Zara King, Virgin Media: “What constitutes a small wedding or a big wedding in terms of numbers, cause people are completely stressed and they are trying to get their guest list under control so that they can adhere to the measures and perhaps go ahead with their big day.”
Dr Tony Holohan: “I am not able to give you any more clarity at this point then I gave you on Friday and I know that is a difficult situation.
The nature of weddings involves interaction, close interaction, social engagement with people, often in a context let’s be honest, where (you know) people have alcohol and so on. They are exactly the kinds of conditions that can give us among the greatest concerns we have about social interactions, that ease the spread of this infection.
I think it is difficult for us to say with certainty, suffice to say at this stage even though it is challenging, that we think that gatherings of this kind are going to be some of the more challenging of things for us to see resumed. I can completely understand what that means for brides and grooms. We are not in a position to be give assurance that we will be able to see a point in time that weddings of a certain type and social activities of that sort of scale or any social activity of a similar scale and being reintroduced and as soon as we are able to give that kind of clarity we will provide it.”
Zara: “So would recommend rescheduling then if you have a wedding booked between now [May] and September ?”
Tony: “Look, that is a very difficult place for me to get into.”
Zara: “I think people would really…”
Tony: “I understand. What is the right decision for one couple, won’t be the same decision to apply to another couple.
I hope they will be able to find ways of staying together, where they will be in a position to get married or not in the meantime, genuinely.”
Zara: “Thank you very much”