The weddings are coming.
The long-awaited fourth phase of the state’s reopening plan begins on Monday March 22nd. The limits for public gatherings will be increased from 10 to 100 for indoor gatherings and from 50 to 150 for outdoor gatherings. This means that wedding venues and event rooms whose events have been severely restricted since the beginning of the pandemic a year ago can host more traditional celebrations again. While some couples rolled back their bigger plans for more intimate ceremonies, many others just took a break on their big day to try to get out of the pandemic.
“A year later, most couples want to customize their weddings,” said Sarah Narcus, co-owner of Olio in Peabody. “There is just no guarantee of when things will be ‘normal’. The couple who postponed it last spring and summer for this spring and summer … they for the most part will not postpone it again. They will hug, where they are and adapt to where we are right now The difference between a pre-pandemic wedding and a wedding now is really small. “
This is because there are other elements to a typical celebration that will be allowed again on Monday – especially dancing, which Narcus said was a forbidden activity until now.
“We haven’t been allowed to dance for over a year,” she said. “Things are really going to feel a lot more like a ‘normal’ wedding because when you go to a wedding you expect to eat, drink and dance.”
As a result, there is a rush to book events.
“Whether people are booking with us or looking elsewhere, I would suggest that they make an appointment now at a venue as our phones will no longer be bookable for the spring and summer,” said Joe DeLorenzo, manager at Danversport. A popular destination for weddings, proms, and other large celebrations. “It’s everything from bridal showers to baby showers, celebrations of life for someone who passed away last year. We see a lot of it and it’s exciting for us to be able to do it.
“We get calls for all sorts of events that couldn’t happen – even birthday parties. We did quinceaneras that turned into sweet 16s,” said DeLorenzo. “Actually, everything was only delayed by a year.”
The historic Smith Barn next to Brooksby Farm in Peabody has been more than a year since they held weddings. The rustic barn owned by the Peabody Historical Society last held an event in December 2019, usually closed every winter season. By the time they would have reopened last April, the pandemic had already closed the region.
“We’ve been doing weddings since 1990. We have an average of 100 weddings a year and our last event was on December 4th, 2019. Last year we had to postpone or cancel 101 weddings,” said Tammy Messina, the events manager. “We’re very excited this year – our first wedding is on the first weekend in May. We’re looking forward to it.”
However, other venues have complicated logistics to deal with. For example, at the House of Seven Gables in Salem, there are several competing capacity limits that can be balanced for the gables as they operate on multiple fronts: retail, events, office space, museum, and more. For the time being there won’t be any indoor weddings.
“Many of our weddings in 2021 are weddings that have been postponed from last year. Most of our couples have already proactively downsized their weddings by this point. I think most of our weddings are still around the 50-person mark.” said Julie Arrison-Bishop, Community Engagement Director at the House of Seven Gables. “I can imagine that we will be accepting bookings for these (indoor weddings) again from 2022.”
That’s not to say any of the weddings will be big in the coming months. Many families planning events still keep the numbers low.
“Everyone is more forgiving and people are more understanding when it comes to things like that. Ultimately, an older generation doesn’t want to go to an event with 100 people,” said Messina. “I have a client and her aunt is older – she said, ‘I don’t want to go to the front desk, but I want to go to the ceremony to see you outside.”
In such cases, a ceremony that can now be attended by 100 people could drop to under 80 guests for the reception, according to Messina.
“Capacity is the biggest (problem), and then comes the dancing,” DeLorenzo said. “People also don’t strive to have masks in all of their wedding pictures – just the aesthetic of being labeled a COVID couple.”
But then other couples are okay with it.
“There’s a cake cutting and there’s a first dance. There’s a ceremony, photos, a great meal,” said Narcus. “This is a wedding in the truest sense of the word – it looks just a little different than the year before.”
Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or [email protected] Follow him on facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.