weddings

To the couple who broke wedding restrictions on the weekend: How could you be so selfish?

Yesterday there was a headline that dominated all of my news apps.

My friends were all texting it to me as well, and it was being hotly debated in all the wedding groups I'm in on social media. 

It was about the NSW couple whose wedding severely breached COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday. 

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Video via Sussex Royal.

At the weekend, the capacity for wedding guests was 300. According to police, they allegedly found up to 700 guests at the wedding, which took place at Imperial Paradiso reception venue in Fairfield, NSW - more than double the number of guests permitted. 

On Sunday, the number of guests permitted was immediately slashed to 100, as per the four square metre rule. The venue was fined a mere $5,000, which is nothing when you consider the average cost per head at a wedding is typically $150. 

If the venue hosted 700 guests, they'd have pocketed $105,000 - the fine barely makes a dent in that. 

A police source also told the Herald Sun that the venue was not complying with other conditions of their COVID-Safe plan; they didn't restrict the movement of people throughout the venue or socially distance on the dance floor. 

"That is just a blatant breach of the orders," Police Minister David Elliot told radio station 2GB on Monday. "It has infuriated me."

Acting NSW Premier John Barilaro also condemned the breach, stating "no-one wins when someone cheats".

"In this scenario and this case, we got an example of someone who's done it bloody wrong," he said.

"He puts his own business and reputation at risk and the sector at risk, the broader economy and jobs, and worse the health of this state."

So why does this story bother me so much?

My partner and I have been planning our wedding since August 2019, months before COVID-19 was even on our radar. It’s safe to say - and I am sure all engaged couples will agree - that having a pandemic thrown in the mix has made it far from easy. Yet we’ve had to accept that our wedding day might look a little different to what we originally hoped for. 

We haven’t argued and we haven’t tried to flout the rules despite our plans being thrown up into the air more times than we can count. What we have done is cried. We've felt sad and disappointed. But we haven’t for one second considered going against the rules brought in to protect us, our friends and family, and the community at large from COVID-19. 

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We’ve cut our guest list at the drop of a hat and just as quickly scrambled to contact friends and family when increases have been announced. We’ve been on the phone to vendors, trying to get the latest information. Trying to work with those who have been financially impacted too. The industry has suffered. Vendors have lost substantial income as a result of these restrictions yet everyone we have dealt with has still put us, the couple, first. 

We’ve written about a hundred versions of our guest list and sent out two different wedding invitations. We’ve included a note on COVID explaining the situation to our guests and how they can help us in planning our day. Yet the truth is we don’t even know anymore. It's really strange being this close to our wedding day with no idea who is going to be by our sides when we say 'I do'.

We’ve faced border restrictions opening and closing. We shed happy tears when we thought my partner's family from Queensland would be able to join us, only to have that taken away from us just a few weeks later. 

We held onto hope for a New Zealand travel bubble so that my partner’s family from New Zealand could be here. As it stands, they face two weeks mandatory hotel quarantine, a cost many simply can’t afford. We have one groomsman who is doing just that to be by my partner’s side on the day. I don’t even have words for what that means to us. 

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Every single couple getting married amidst COVID has had to give up something they desperately wanted on their wedding day, whether it be a particular guest, dancing, mingling, or hugging loved ones. They've also taken on the financial burden associated with postponing and pivoting time and time again.

It’s this situation that led to Wedded Wonderland’s ‘Save Our Weddings’ initiative, which saw their founder Wendy Daoud El-Khoury campaign to the government on behalf of the industry and engaged couples to provide a clear way forward for weddings in each state and territory. We thought we were finally getting there, only to go backwards once again. 

So seeing a breach like this, so blatant, so planned and so calculated, makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t understand how this couple could have been so selfish. They've put at risk the weddings of every couple who is doing the right thing. 

This wedding and the one that came before it, with a Northern Beaches couple breaching stay at home orders along with their guests to have their wedding in Pyrmont, have now become the posters of a wedding during COVID. 

But thankfully this is not what most COVID weddings look like. I would know, because I’ve seen lots of them on my Facebook feed. 

Most have followed the rules. COVID didn't make it easy but couples are still getting their wedding days - they just look a little different. 

I hope, despite a selfish minority, we are still able to have ours. 

Valentina Todoroska is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow her on Instagram

Feature Image: Love at First Sight Photography

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