June 7, 2023

The transition from fall to winter is almost here, which also means the end of an unorthodox wedding season. COVID-19 protocols have affected many couples who planned to get married during a worldwide pandemic. Shortening guest lists, unhappy family members, and vaccination protocols have all become normal aspects of wedding planning in 2021.

Submitted photo of Abby O’Leary and her husband-to-be.

Any couple who has had the unruly task of planning a wedding during this time knows that the first issue to arise is the guest list. With ever-changing COVID-19 protocols, it’s difficult to nail down an exact number for how many guests are allowed at your wedding.

Upcoming October bride, Abby O’Leary, says that her guest list was a constant battle.

“Not knowing how many people will be able to attend our wedding has been the biggest challenge,” said O’Leary. “We’ve been planning three different weddings since the beginning. One for under 50, one for under 100, and a restricted wedding. We had to prepare for all options and try not to get our hopes up.”

Luckily for O’Leary, she did foresee certain problems that she may run into. When the rollout for vaccinations began during the middle of planning her wedding, she made sure that she was on top of it.

“It was one of the tougher calls we had to make along the way,” said O’Leary. “We learned how uncomfortable some people actually were with being around unvaccinated people and these people being around unvaccinated children.”

O’Leary eventually concluded that everyone who plans to attend her wedding must be vaccinated. She says that this decision caused some conflict with her guests, but it was necessary for the execution of her wedding. A week later, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that vaccine passports would soon be mandatory to enter certain facilities, including event halls and spaces alike.

Brides and grooms are not the only individuals with a lot on their plate this wedding season. Plenty of wedding vendors such hairstylists, wedding planners, event organizers, and florists have been feeling the pressure as well.

Linnea Figueiredo, senior stylist at Romeo’s salon, says that COVID-19 has affected her salon significantly and that the status quo for bridal parties is different.

“We normally would have at least two brides and their wedding party at the salon every Saturday,” said Figueiredo, “Now that we are dealing with COVID, there isn’t weddings really happening.”

She says that the lack of weddings has impacted many stylists financially in the summer months, which is an added stress on top of stylists being out of work during lockdowns. The brides that they do see must follow strict COVID-19 protocols.

“We are only allowed a certain amount of people in the salon as well, so no big wedding parties. Normally when we do have brides, we would always offer them lattes and treat them, but we can’t do that anymore either. Before anyone enters the salon, they have to answer the COVID questions, sanitize, and have a mask on. No exceptions.”

Reflecting on her 26 years of experience, Figueiredo says her job now is like nothing she’s ever experienced before.

O’Leary’s wedding is set to take place on Oct. 23 in Stratford, the city she calls home. While the planning has been trying, she is excited for the day and is confident everything will go to plan.

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