April 23, 2021

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Weddings in times of pandemic | PRESENT

NEW YORK— Photographers, wedding planners, and other providers seeking to create magical moments for married couples have new cause for concern amid the coronavirus pandemic: ceremonies without masks, increasingly invited and facilities that don't follow the rules for preventing infection.

As activities resume as quarantines begin to lift, horror stories abound of wedding services. Many are desperate to get back to work and don their masks, take their cameras and cross their fingers.

Weddings without masks and social distance are the talk of service providers across the country.

"People who works at these events is distracted about the chinstraps and the number of guests, "said photographer Susan Stripling of New York.

There are not many known cases of outbreaks associated with weddings. A ceremony was suspended by authorities in a San Francisco church. The couple had asked their nearly 100 guests not to use the main entrance but to enter from an underground garage, to go unnoticed.

Chicago photographer Cherie Schrades said she was cheated when she showed up for a wedding at July in which there were 165 people without face masks, in a closed place, after being assured that all precautions would be taken.

People did not keep their distance and rejoiced.

"The bride told me that there was a closed room and another outdoor space, but it was 95 degrees (Fahrenheit, 35 centigrade) and they never opened the door, "he said. "At the most there were three feet (one meter) between table and table," he added, stressing that, under these conditions, the use of chinstrap must have been obligatory.

"It looked like a normal wedding from the days before Covid-19 "he said.

The rules of his state were that half the capacity of a facility was admitted, as long as there were no more than 50 people, he said. Schrader revealed that he forced the couple to take photos outside of the room, with a lot of heat and humidity.

"They complained because everyone was sweating, but I tried to spend as little time inside as possible," he explained.

He said that He went into the living room for short periods, for special moments, like when the cake was cut. A colleague stayed inside the entire time, by choice. She did not reveal the name of the facility for fear of retaliation.

"I adore boyfriends and girlfriends, but being pressured to risk my life was very disappointing," she said. "My mother is 80 years old."

Many couples suspend the wedding several times and there comes a time when they are desperate to perform the ceremony. Sometimes they even opt for something in a small place, with few people, instead of the dream wedding they planned.

Big or small, the chinstrap is an element that generates conflicts, especially for the photos and the videos. Some couples say they mess up the visual part and directly ban them. Others leave that to the discretion of each person. And there are women who wear satin and lace chinstraps that match their dresses.

"I understand this is not what they wanted for their wedding," said Chicago planner Alexis Alvarez. "What everyone should answer is what is the moral responsibility of each and what can be the legal cost of holding an event that can generate contagion."

Álvarez has a contract for a wedding to be held in September in a closed room with 100 guests in which the use of chinstraps is optional. He says breaking the contract would cost him $ 4,000. It is his first job of the year. In normal years, he works up to 28 weddings from March to September.

Although the couple reduced the guest list, which was initially 175 people, "they will not give up in relation to the masks".

"The reality is that the guests who do not feel safe are not going "to the wedding, Álvarez said.

Álvarez plans to place the tables quite a distance from each other and group members of a family at the same table in the possible. He also plans to use a resource used by other couples in which guests are offered ribbons of different colors to put on their wrists and let them know what level of contact they prefer.

To avoid gathering too many people at the same time, some couples post schedules for the guests and they receive them in batches.

"Weddings are very emotionally charged this year and the idea of ​​wearing masks is the last straw," said Álvarez.

Planner Lynne Goldberg is preparing a wedding with 200 invited for December at the bride's parents' house in New York State.

"They firmly say that the pandemic will not affect their plans and that they will not be given masks or posters that promote social distancing", he commented. "The bride said that when she shows wedding videos to her children, she doesn't want them to look like a documentary of the 2020 pandemic."

Fred Cashman is a 55-year-old cancer survivor whose adoptive son will marry on 8 March. August in New York. He will not attend for health reasons.

The couple decided not to postpone the wedding due to the pandemic, but reduced the guest list from 100 to 50, he said. They wanted the use of chinstraps to be optional, until Cashman's wife, Cat, intervened after seeing that there had been several Covid-19 infections at a wedding in the area.

"I stood my ground and said that you have to be mandatory. Otherwise, the mother will not be present, "he said. "This is something important. It affects me a lot."

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