Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Wedding bells!

Planners jump for joy for tripling of guests in June

Published:Wednesday | June 2, 2021 | 12:12 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Prime Minister Andrew Holness gestures during his address on Tuesday in the House of Representatives where he announced adjusted COVID-19 containment measures.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness gestures during his address on Tuesday in the House of Representatives where he announced adjusted COVID-19 containment measures.
Francine Foster
Francine Foster
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Weeks after ratcheting up pressure on the Government about perceived inequity in the domestic wedding market, planners on Tuesday welcomed the more than tripling of attendance quotas for June, a traditional high-traffic month for nuptials. Prime...

Weeks after ratcheting up pressure on the Government about perceived inequity in the domestic wedding market, planners on Tuesday welcomed the more than tripling of attendance quotas for June, a traditional high-traffic month for nuptials.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ raising of the limit from 15 to 50 was a fillip for wedding arrangers in a multimillion-dollar industry with a wide range of stakeholder interests.

The relaxation in measures, including shorter curfews, comes as the island’s coronavirus crisis has eased over the past two months on the back of a series of weekend lockdowns and the tightening of other restrictions.

Though deaths are nearing 950, the daily positivity rate plunged to 6.6 per cent on Monday, climbing down from sustained recordings of high 30s weeks ago.

The bounce in business for weddings is likely to level the playing field amid criticism that hotels have been hosting up to 200 guests despite crushing restrictions for offsite planners.

Jennifer Borgh, a wedding planner, told The Gleaner on Tuesday that she was “very excited” by the development.

However, she said that people planning to get together need a definitive number for July and August if they were to come to Jamaica to get married.

“We need a solid number for that and we need some sort of consistency, because what happens is on the last day of June, he (prime minister) might go back and announce we are going back to 15 and they have already flown to Jamaica,” she said of the adjustments, which take effect on Thursday.

Borgh said that while local nuptials were easier to facilitate, wedding planners with overseas clients need much more time to coordinate the event because of the number of moving parts.

“If we had those numbers and if they were 50 to 100 until September, then we could save our wedding season, which is the summer,” Borgh added.

Another wedding planner, Francine Foster, was upbeat about the increase in the number of participants but also expressed some concerns.

“I am happy because we are on the cusp of the wedding season, which is the summer.”

She told The Gleaner on Tuesday that a lot of work and preplanning go into weddings, noting that many nuptials require up to a year of advance coordination.

“This is why we are stressed. This is why we are exhausted because they don’t understand that weddings are expensive,” Foster said.

“People are literally spending millions on their weddings, so they can’t just get up today and decide I am going to get married and have the type of wedding that they want and get married next month. It doesn’t work like that.”

Foster said that one of her clients was spending US$80,000 (J$11.6 million) on her upcoming wedding and has invited 120 persons, 80 per cent of whom have already been vaccinated. Foster said some 22 local companies have been hired to produce the wedding.

“Her wedding is literally next month, and I don’t know what to do. She has postponed already and she cannot postpone again because of the penalties she will incur,” said the planner.

As a destination wedding planner, Foster said that more than 90 per cent of her clients came from overseas.

Foster said that her first wedding for the season was held here last Friday.

However, she said it was a “nightmare for us because with the whole fallout from Mocha Fest, a police task force came to my wedding and almost shut it down,” she said, referencing the crowded party hosted at western Jamaica hotspot Rick’s Cafe, which has been ordered closed by the authorities.

Foster, who has been planning weddings for 11 years, said she has never seen brides so stressed, some suffering mental breakdowns.

“All we are saying, because we are part of the tourism product, if they say everybody coming to the wedding needs to be fully vaccinated, as a vendor, we are willing to do it. If everybody needs to do a COVID test, they are willing to do it,” she stressed.

That advocacy might soon find favour with the Government, which announced on Tuesday that the quarantine for vaccinated travellers would be slashed from 14 days to eight.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com