As wedding season begins, many brides- and grooms-to-be are feeling relieved about their upcoming summer celebrations, as vaccine eligibility is increasing across the state. But many couples still feel extra wedding stress as they navigate stricter regulations in Philadelphia compared with the rest of the state.
On April 4, Gov. Wolf rolled back some of the state’s COVID restrictions, including those that limit event size. Statewide, indoor events can now safely operate at 25 percent capacity and outdoor events can operate at 50 percent capacity.
Philadelphia officials, though, did not roll back restrictions in the same way, as case numbers are still on the rise and vaccination rates are low in the city.
Some engaged couples say they are frustrated by this discrepancy; even if their event would be considered safe elsewhere in the state, it would still risk violating Philadelphia’s independent guidelines.
In 2019, over 300 weddings were held in Philadelphia and 40 percent occurred between April and August, according to The Wedding Report, a research firm specializing in the wedding industry. The average cost of a wedding was just over $17,000.
Amanda and Robert Waffle are set to be married in June and have been contemplating sending out their invitations and solidifying hotel reservations and dining arrangements.
“Even though Pennsylvania increased indoor and outdoor event capacity, Philly is following their own guidelines and monitoring what cases look like throughout April, which is hard for people with summer weddings because planning typically needs to be done three months in advance,” Amanda Waffle said.
The Waffles said a lot of the organizations they are relying on for the wedding agreed to help accommodate the couple should their wedding have to be postponed. For instance, their florist, Willow and Thistle, agreed to hold their deposit until a date is set.
Katie Calderone and her fiance Michael Nolte planned to get married in April 2020, but made the choice to reschedule in February 2020. Calderone said they had been monitoring the spread of the virus and decided early on to postpone.
“I checked in [with our venue] so often, and they kept telling me we couldn’t postpone,” Calderone said. “Finally, they allowed us to postpone, for a fee, in February.”
Their wedding will now be in February, 2022. The Wedding Report estimated that by Aug. 2020, over 60 percent of weddings had to be postponed, either to later in 2020 or into 2021.
Last month, Finley Catering, a popular wedding planning company in Philadelphia, launched a website called LetPAMarryUs, which calls on state officials to ease wedding restrictions. The website says the wedding industry employs over 12 million people in the state.
City health officials are expected to make an announcement April 30 regarding event capacity, potentially lifting some restrictions.