Quebec wedding planners grow frustrated as COVID-19 restrictions ease in other sectors, but not theirs

Wedding planners in Quebec are looking at the easing of COVID-19 measures for events, bars, and conferences and wondering when they'll be able to plan an event the same way they used to.

According to current COVID-19 health measures, you can throw a birthday party with as many people as you want, but when it comes to tying the knot, there's a 25-person maximum if the reception is indoors, and 50 outdoors.

There are no limits for meetings, conventions, ceremonies, trade fairs and exhibitions or for events and shows. Group bookings at restaurants are also allowed without limits, but weddings are forced to comply with capacity regulations, leaving those planning events with a conundrum.

"We're all just a little bit baffled. Should we just stop calling them weddings?" said wedding planner Elyna Kudish. Large group bookings in restaurants are allowed, "but according to these contradictory regulations, it just can't be a wedding."

The relaxation of rules is based on recommendations from the Quebec Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) based on the current epidemiological situation, as well as risk of transmissions in each sector, the health ministry said in an emailed statement.

The ministry said it was gradually relaxing measures in order to see their impact.

Wedding planners are left to find ways within the rules to hold their events.

"A lot of us vendors-at-large have found ways of navigating these murky waters, not doing anything illegal per se, but either just not calling it a wedding or finding ways to make it happen," said Kudish.

Depending on whether her client is local or international, comfort levels can vary.

Kudish said locals understand that it may just be an omission, but for international clients, it becomes more complicated.

"They may be going online and checking what the official word is and they're confused," she said. "How do we plan a 200-person wedding for next year?"

The ministry said it's too early to comment whether further relaxation of measures will be possible, but that its teams "are working to adjust the sanitary measures to the epidemiological situation."

"We fully understand that families and loved ones want to be able to gather at these events," the ministry said.

A music festival with 10,000 people? Fine. A business convention packing a ballroom? Sure.

A wedding reception with 28 people? Against the rules. Kudish said it's been difficult on her business.

"We understand things will still be changing, but it's causing enormous stress and confusion," said Kudish. 

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