Wedding planners wait for more leeway as state loosens restrictions |

Wedding planners wait for more leeway as state loosens restrictions

Danielle and Jeremiah Hughes of Silverthorne are married by Leon Little Bird in August 2010 on Loveland Pass. Colorado’s recently amended safer-at-home order allows wedding ceremonies and receptions, but wedding planners remain hesitant to move forward. 
Summit Daily File

BRECKENRIDGE — While Colorado’s amended safer-at-home order means wedding ceremonies and receptions are both allowed, wedding planners remain hesitant to move forward. 

Weddings, along with nearly every other part of society, fell victim to the novel coronavirus response efforts. Couples across America were forced to reconsider their plans and many of them moved their weddings to later dates.

On Thursday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment amended its safer-at-home order, opening almost all businesses in a limited capacity. 

Under the amended order, “life rites” ceremonies, which include graduations, weddings, funerals and other religious ceremonies are allowed to occur at 50% capacity or up to 50 people. If an indoor venue is considered extra large — greater than 7,200 square feet — the ceremony can have up to 100 people. Outdoor venues can have as many people as the local public health department allows, as long as groups are 6 feet apart from each other. 

Receptions are authorized as well but have different limitations. Depending on the venue, a reception falls into the indoor or outdoor activity category. Each venue will have to use the state’s social distancing space calculator to determine how many people it can hold. For outdoor venues, the maximum is 175 people. For indoor venues, it’s 100. 

Elizabeth Long, who owns Distinctive Mountain Events in Breckenridge, said the amended order doesn’t really mean anything for her weddings. 

“We’ve moved most weddings from 2020 to 2021,” she said. “Even September weddings have moved.”

Long said many brides are worried about what the future would look like and feel it’s better to reschedule to a later date. 

“Polis can say at any moment ‘shelter in place again,’” Long said. “That would just completely take away all of the planning for a wedding.”

Shawna Henderson, owner of Breck Mtn Weddings, said she has some weddings planned for September, but all other events through August are cancelled.

Clients who wanted to have a bigger wedding have decided to push back until 2021, Henderson said. 

“For those that are looking at having larger events, they definitely made the right call of postponing to next year and hopefully there’ll be different restrictions in place,” she said. 

Even with larger wedding sizes allowed, social distancing is next to impossible at a wedding reception. 

“There’s merriment and drinking and dancing, you kind of want all of those things at your wedding,” Long said. “To do that without being within 6 feet of another person, it’s really tough.”

Unlike restaurants, which have been able to adjust to the public health guidelines by requiring masks, limiting groups and having customers keep to their table, weddings aren’t easily controlled. Buffet lines, dancing and large groups at tables all make it nearly impossible to have a wedding that prevents the spread of the virus. 

“In terms of very joyous, fun, happy occasions such as a wedding it’s pretty difficult to abide by CDC guidelines,” Henderson said. 

Henderson is working with vendors to make her September weddings as safe as possible. She said she’s spoken to venues about cleanliness standards, considered having hand sanitizer available at different areas throughout the venue and is working on a plan for masks. 

“A lot of the brides are still wanting to make their dreams of having a wedding this particular year still happen,” she said. “They are looking to the experts in the field to make executive decisions on how we can do that in the safest yet fun environment.”

Long said her biggest strategy has been to simply move the weddings and hope for better circumstances later on. 

“There’s so much gray area about who’s supposed to be taking temperatures or making sure people are wearing masks,” she said. “It’s been the easiest to move things to 2021 and a little bit less pressure on the couple. They don’t want to put their guests at risk.”

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