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Marriage sector sees little change despite relaxed measures

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Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend a wedding ceremony from Monday 18 May, Belgium’s National Security Council decided on Wednesday.

The guests may only attend the wedding ceremony. Organising a reception or a party afterwards is still not allowed. Additionally, all guests must be able to keep their distance from each other.

The measure follows a previous relaxation that also allowed the parents of the marrying couple to attend, in addition to the witnesses.

“It is positive that couples can invite friends and family again. However, little will change for the sector,” Cynthia De Clercq of HL Belgium, the professional organisation of wedding suppliers in Belgium, told VRT, adding that in addition to civil marriage, alternative ceremonies are also possible.

During the press conference after the National Security Council, Wilmès talked about “ceremonies,” not about civil marriage. This means, according to De Clercq, that alternative ceremonies can now also be held, such as in the couple’s garden.

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However, since receptions remain forbidden, the marriage ceremony would have to be very short. “The question is whether couples would want such an alternative wedding ceremony, since they cannot offer a drink afterwards,” she said.

In practice, the relaxation “changes very little for the sector,” according to De Clercq, as weddings in the summer are still being cancelled en masse because of the lack of perspective. The sector already called for clarity, “even if it is negative,” in April, after it saw its earnings for March, April and May disappear.

De Clercq is a fan of the Dutch arrangement and wonders why the same system cannot be used in Belgium. In the Netherlands, marriages are allowed with a maximum of up to 30 people until 30 June. From 1 July, this will be extended to 100 people. The 1.5 metres has to be respected at all time.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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