No dancing? Wedding receptions return, but logistical questions remain
Wedding planners across the state are scrambling to keep up with the number of phone calls and text messages they are receiving since Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement Thursday that receptions, caterers, and banquet halls may restart on June 1 under the same rules as restaurants.
April Gladieux, owner of Your Perfect Day, said her phone was “blowing up” until 11 p.m. Thursday.
“It felt like Christmas,” Ms. Gladieux said. “Not just for my clients, but it’s allowing me to get back to doing what I love and have been doing for the last 10 years. We’ve had a couple clients who decided to un-cancel their wedding. We’re going to call all the guests and tell them the party is back on.”
While weddings have not been prohibited under the stay-at-home orders, wedding receptions were subject to the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
The parties are indeed back, but they will likely look different for the foreseeable future. Ms. Gladieux said about 90 percent of her clients are making masks an option for guests.
She said plans will have to be altered based on the venue, guest count, and location to abide by social distancing guidelines.
“Whatever the fire code is, they’ll have to cut that in half,” she said. “So that 300 mark that DeWine brought up is for a venue that can hold 600 people, and there aren’t many of those in Toledo.”
Leslie Tansey, owns Classy Bucket Events, said she used some of the downtime to research and offer smaller, more intimate packages for couples who still wanted to get married this season. She thinks masks will become part of the getup at ceremonies.
“The fashion industry started getting masks made,” Ms. Tansey said. “If you look at companies like Jupmode and Homage, they’re making these masks. I see it as an extension of a fashion statement for people.”
She said she wouldn’t be surprised to see hand sanitizer on each table and thinks buffet lines could be a thing of the past.
“There’s got to be some guidelines that couples will have to agree upon regarding social distancing,” she said. “You want to make sure everyone is safe. I think you’ll see smaller weddings.”
But cutting a venue seating in half could be problematic for those weddings that already have been planned.
Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids, Ohio, can seat 300 in its main ballroom, which earlier was just fine for a bride who had invited 250 guests to her reception, said Abby Robenolt, lead events coordinator at Nazareth Hall.
“Does that mean that now she has to disinvite 50 people or 100 people because I’ll have to slash the number of my max capacity in half?” Ms. Robenolt said. “It’s like I’m in a very weird nightmare that won’t stop.”
Some brides have suggested maybe having a tent outside to supplement the overcapacity. “I said, ‘Well then you’re isolating people. Do you really want to do that?’” Ms. Robenolt added.
Nazareth plans to limit the number of people at a table and the number of tables to meet social distancing guidelines. And it will eliminate salt and pepper shakers and other shared items on a table.
But Ms. Robenolt said most of the guidelines were made for restaurants and don’t cover items that involve wedding reception venues.
“So I don’t know about dancing. Will there be a minimum number of people allowed on a dance floor? Do we say ‘No Dancing’ but only allow the first dance [for the bride and groom and their parents]?” Ms. Robenolt said. “And what about getting ready for a bridal party in the bridal suite? How many are allowed in there? Is the cake allowed in the ballroom?
“We’ve got clients calling who want to move back to their original June date but we don’t even know how that would look like with my room layout,” she added.
Dolly Keyes, events director at Toledo County Club, has many of the same questions. Fortunately the first wedding at her venue doesn’t occur until August.
‘We’re kind of still learning. We are planning on reopening, and we’re going to go by all the Ohio guidelines, and we’re excited to be reopening,” Ms. Keyes said. But there are “tricky questions” like the dancing issue that she has yet to resolve.
“We definitely have to social distance on the tables, and if they wanted, we could do a tent outside to give them more room,” she said. “We do a lot of tent weddings anyhow, so it wouldn’t be out of the norm for us.”
Ms. Keyes said that despite the restrictions created by the coronavirus, she is determined not to let them deter her from making any wedding reception a memorable event. “We will accommodate and do whatever we have to do to make the bride’s day special,” she said.
Sylvania Country Club events coordinator Chelsea Pariseau also is resolute that health guidelines will not detract from any bride’s happiness.
“Everything, right now, is plastic or disposable which some people don’t like. But just because it’s disposable doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful,” Ms. Pariseau said.
Sylvania Country Club has been operating its restaurant and already worked out protocols for social distancing there. Mr. Pariseau said the staff is prepared to begin using those protocols on the banquet venue for weddings.
Tables are at half-capacity and spread six feet apart, sanitizer stations have been placed strategically around the banquet hall, and workers have been designated as cleaners to sanitize specific areas of the venue.
Ms. Pariseau said her venue has even resolved the “tricky” dancing issue.
“We’re thinking about putting ‘X’s on the floor to let people know where they have to stay when they dance. We’re using all our creative juices over here at SCC to figure things out,” she said.