Engaged Montrealers frustrated as their weddings plans stay on hold while the prom season forges ahead
MONTREAL -- After Tuesday’s announcement that an exception in COVID-19 restrictions will be made so Quebec high school students can attend their prom, some Montrealers are disappointed that the same allowances aren’t being applied to weddings.
Teacher Ashley O’Grady says that while she’s happy students are able to enjoy this “special moment in their lives,” she finds it unfair that she can’t do the same.
“I am finding there to be a double standard when it comes to weddings,” she said. “Hopefully things can change for our situation as well.”
Currently, restrictions in Quebec limit weddings to 25 people. At upcoming prom celebrations, however, up to 250 people are permitted to gather, although it must be outdoors.
Although the province initially determined there would be no prom in 2021, they changed their decision following the outcry of students, parents, and some teachers, with a number of students protesting outside the National Assembly on Monday.
Most 12 to 17-year-olds are expected to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by June 24. Prom celebrations will begin on July 8, allowing the minimum requirement of two weeks for the vaccines to take effect.
When asked in a press conference Tuesday why a large number can gather at prom but not at weddings, Quebec public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said that weddings are riskier since there is a wider age range among guests.
“[There are] older groups, not only youth that are there, there is grandma or grandpa, aunt and uncle," he said.
While most high-risk Quebecers have received their first vaccine, the majority have yet to receive their second shot, which is required to provide the maximum level of immunity against COVID-19.
O’Grady said the constant uncertainty surrounding weddings has been taxing for herself and for other grooms and brides-to-be she has interacted with through an online wedding planning forum.
“Many couples have postponed weddings several times,” she said. “This is not only a financial burden, but an emotional one.”
Frustration has also been expressed by those working behind the scenes in the wedding world.
Wedding planner Sue-Ellen Cotter said she is disappointed the Quebec government did not work more with the event-planning industry in developing a long-term reopening plan. Without knowing the restrictions well in advance, there isn’t enough time to prepare for a wedding, Cotter says.
“We have to plan a couple months before, to make sure we have a bunch of vendors, photo, video, DJs, band, cake, food,” she said. “It’s sad that the government didn’t want to work with us during the winter so we [could prepare to] launch the second season this summer.”
Cotter believes that, with the help of the government, event planners could have established a way to safely carry out larger events by cutting out activities such as dancing to avoid close contact between different household “bubbles.”
“We could have done [safe weddings] this summer,” she said.
Montreal is set to move from an orange zone to a yellow zone on June 14, when up to 50 people will be allowed at weddings as opposed to 25.