The wedding sector has not been told anything about when it could restart, but that isn’t stopping it from being able to restart properly from 1 May, with special measures in place.
First and foremost, the sector needs to know if weddings will be included in the next easing of outdoor events with a maximum of 50 attendees, planned to start from 1 April.
Currently, they have no idea.
“We are hoping that also includes marriages, but we cannot get it confirmed,” Cynthia De Clercq of the federation of wedding service providers HL Belgium, told The Brussels Times. “We believe ceremonies should be possible in the open air or an open tent.”
There is, however, more to a wedding than just the service, and “weddings without catering are non-existent,” explained De Clercq.
For this reason, the sector aims to reopen from 1 May – the date set by the Consultative Committee for the reopening of the hospitality industry, alongside a sector protocol to make the relaunch happen properly.
This would include measures such as basing the number of attendees on the available square metres of the location, according to De Clercq, as well as other measures to ensure proper precautions being taken.
“Mainly to give our clients the prospect that cancellation is not necessary, and also to give suppliers the chance – and enough time – to make the necessary preparations,” she added.
Without a plan for a structured reopening, people will start to hold parties at random, and couples will start looking for alternatives to a party hall, according to De Clercq.
“That will not help the infection rates. You have to rely on professionals in the sector to make sure that weddings are corona proof,” she said. “Because that is exactly what the wedding industry is for: making sure that a wedding party runs as it should.”
Additionally, De Clercq stressed that the sector “absolutely cannot” survive another summer without weddings.
“The travel industry has been offered a solution to the problem of refunded tickets by means of the travel voucher, but the matrimonial industry has not been offered a solution,” she said.
While a lot of attention is currently going to mass events such as summer festivals, the sector does not understand why the wedding sector is not being talked about.
Clients who have moved their celebrations from last year to this year are cancelling. “Couples do not want to wait two years to get married, and start on other life events such as children or house purchase,” said De Clercq.
“The wedding industry is of interest to 45,000 couples (or 90,000 now, if you count two years) and 20,000 suppliers,” De Clercq. “A mass of people who are being left out in the cold.”
Maïthé Chini & Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times