Wedding planners in Nova Scotia say they are still struggling to stay afloat while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, even as the province moves through its reopening plan.
"There were these rules when the pandemic was in full force, which I absolutely understand ... I also want people to be safe, but the rules are just so strict that I think there can be some compromises," Jessica Murray, the owner of The Wedding Whisperer in Halifax, told CBC's Information Morning on Friday.
In Phase 3 of Nova Scotia's reopening plan, which was implemented on June 30, informal private weddings can have no more than a single household plus 10 guests without physical distancing.
If the ceremony is outside, there can be 25 people without physical distancing.
However, ceremonies that are hosted by a business or organization, like a venue or wedding planner, must adhere to strict gathering limits and follow physical distancing rules for the entirety of the event.
Murray said these rules have pushed more couples to choose the informal option or to elope, which has affected her business almost as much as last year when the pandemic began.
"I was holding out hope for this year and I've actually, because the rules are so confusing and people can't bank on what the rules are going to be, I have again lost 50 per cent," she said. "But instead of people postponing this time, they fully cancelled."
Claudia Habib, of the Halifax-based Simply Weddings, has noticed a similar trend.
She organized a photo shoot of a staged wedding on Monday because vendors have been running out of fresh content to post on social media since so many ceremonies have been cancelled.
She believes some of the current rules are outdated as they were first established in March.
"I don't feel that information that we have … should apply right now as people are getting more and more vaccinated," she told CBC's News at Six on Monday.
"It doesn't make sense that we would have to stick to those rules from March."
She said right now, guests at formal weddings must stay at their table of 10 people and can't mingle with other bubbles.
"It's like going to a restaurant. All your food and drink is coming to the table. You have to sit in your 10-person closed bubble at your table. Those tables have to be spaced out," she said.
"The current rule is if you're serving alcohol, there's no dancing so that's been a bit of a hiccup for a lot of my clients."
Both Murray and Habib say they are hopeful Phase 4 of the reopening plan will allow more freedom for the industry.
Phase 4 is expected to take effect on July 15 as long as case numbers remain low.
This phase will allow informal weddings to have 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors without physical distancing.
However, professionally planned ceremonies will still need to adhere to social gathering limits of 50 per cent of the venue's capacity or a total of 150 people inside or 250 outside.
"We're just looking for a little bit of give so people can have a semblance of a wedding day," Murray said.
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