It is supposed to be one of the most memorable days of their lives, as couples commit to a lifetime union before their friends and family.
Often a celebration is held following the exchanging of rings and vows that includes food and festivities.
It is a time when society has collectively agreed that dancing is an appropriate form of expressing the joy one feels in that moment.
The global pandemic has changed that, at least in part. For months, wedding reception venues were closed, unable to cater to the needs of brides and grooms, because of a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and the need to maintain social distance.
Some of those restrictions have been eased, and venues are now allowed to operate once again, but cannot have more than 300 people at the reception. Attendees must also remain seated when eating or drinking, be sequestered to tables of no more than 10, and those tables must be at least six feet away from other tables.
Finally, there is no dancing allowed. Many of us have been to wedding receptions where families have celebrated with abandon. Perhaps the reception you attended served alcohol and if it did, you may have seen an attendee inebriated to the point where they actually may be dancing better than they would have otherwise.
As a young man, I worked banquet halls and often served during wedding receptions. I have seen thousands of people on countless dance floors, few of them anywhere close to being six-feet apart. At a time when the state is trying to slow the spread of COVID-19, dancing at a wedding reception can potentially be a moment of transmission.
Some industry professionals think they can make it safe enough to open up the dance floor. They have all kinds of ideas from marking off space on the dance floor that people would have to stand in or on that will keep them from getting too close to other dancers. Another idea is to allow the attendees to dance one table at a time, and yet another is to create mini-dance floors around the room so that only a small number of people can be on them at any one time.
Whatever the solution is, these professionals have shared their ideas with the state and are hoping for a swift reopening of dance floors. It may even be economical to do so. Professional DJs are reporting some couples are postponing weddings, because they cannot have dancing on their special day. While that means they will not miss out on the work they have already booked, it does mean that sometime in the future they will lose a potential work day as they make up for the original date.
At least for now, DJ’s are not seeing many cancellations, despite the normal financial commitment a wedding reception has and a potential crunch thanks to the pandemic. The DJ’s are just one of the many wedding vendors who have ended up shifting work over the next several months to two years.
As for couples who do not decide to wait and keep their booked date, some venues say there is a little bit of flexibility. John Brooks, owner of Brookshire, the Venue, says he has consulted with state officials and will be allowing specialty dances if the bride and groom want to have them.
The idea is the couple just got married so clearly they will be living together, if they are not already, so social distancing is unnecessary. The father-daughter dance is also being allowed, because throughout the day and the ceremony it is highly possible they have been closer than six-feet apart, especially if dad walked his daughter down the aisle.
Brooks hopes to see new standards allowing for dancing guests to be available by July 1st.