Warwick weddings under threat as couple’s brace for 4th wave
IT MAY be the day couples dream of as kids, but new coronavirus restrictions have left many Warwick wedding parties jilted at the altar.
Under the new regulations, private wedding services in public areas across the Downs region may only have up to 10 people gathered - including the bride, groom and marriage celebrant.
While wedding services performed in Covidsafe venues are exempt, for many wannabe newlyweds it is the latest obstacle to overcome.
Wedding and Events Warwick owner Peta Murphy said as a wedding planner she could technically operate under a Covid-safe licence, but wasn't willing to take the emotional or financial risk.
"Because of the possibility of fines as a business, it's something we're not offering," she said.
"It would also break my heart to tell a bride she can't stand up and talk to parents on her wedding, that she had to sit down because she was breaking Covid wedding rules."
Mrs Murphy said the easing, and subsequent tightening, on restrictions wreaked havoc in the lives of many Warwick families and the industry as a whole.
"Some of our brides and grooms are very upset and emotional.
"They spend 18 months in planning and now they're suddenly only allowed to have 10 people at their wedding," she said.
"Every time there's a tightening of restrictions, the postponements flood in that day. We had a wedding recently cancel because her bridal party couldn't make it into the country.
"It's the unknown. We could be looking at cancelling and postponing again next season."
Despite that, she had also seen an uptake in couples determined to tie the knot - with more decorative elopements than ever before.
Sarah and Michael Benz married a fortnight ago after many coronavirus-related hiccups.
When coronavirus first hit, it spun the big day of their dreams into disarray.
"We had pretty much planned most of wedding and had over 100 guests with catering staff," Mrs Benz said.
"It got to May and then we started changing our plans … we didn't want the stress of continuing planning and potentially losing money and unable to do the said plan anyway."
"Cutting the guest list down to five, Mrs Benz even had to sub out her sister as maid of honour as she was stuck in America.
Preparing for the worst, the loved-up couple were overjoyed when restrictions eased just enough to invite their parents to the big day.
Although hopeful they may one day be able to have the reception they originally envisaged, Benz said the choice to marry now rather than later was the right one.
"I would have done it again in a heartbeat," she said.
"I would say to couples if they're unsure whether to postpone, that it's what you make it. We made sure it was still a really special event even and were still able to support local business."