On February 10th, 2021, Ontario released their plan on how the province will be reopening. They’ve used a 5 stage colour-coded approach in which factors such as weekly incidences, percent positivity and level of community transmissions of COVID-19 will determine which regions in the province can move into which colour-coded stage. The problem here is that we just don’t know when and we have to continue to be patient. If you haven’t seen Ontario’s plan yet, you can visit the framework here.
So, what does this mean for your wedding in 2021? We’ve actually created a snapshot of the framework (excluding the Grey colour-coded stage) to make it easier for our clients to understand the rules and regulations pertaining to weddings and we’re happy to share this with you as well. The link we’ve shared above can seem a bit daunting to read as there is so much information! Keep scrolling to see our snapshots of each stage, but before we get into the details, we do want to caution the following:
1) We understand some information isn’t as clear and we’re still waiting for more specific information to come out to guide all of us in the right direction. Therefore, some of us might be understanding some of the rules and regulations differently. The information we are going to share with you below is our understanding of the framework after calling Stop the Spread and Public Health and asking for clarity around some of the restrictions. We’ve provided their contact information as you are more than welcome to also call and get clarity on any questions you may have!
2) As we’ve learned over the last year, and as Public Health has told us, things are always changing! These guidelines are subject to change and could vary depending on the region you or your venue are located in.
3) If you already have a venue, we strongly recommend that you contact them and understand how they are planning to execute events in each stage. For example, last year in Stage 3, both plated and family-style dinner service were allowed. However, some venues only allowed for plated dinner service while others allowed for both. Therefore, it’s important to contact them and get clarity.
GREEN STAGE – PREVENT
YELLOW STAGE – PROTECT
ORANGE STAGE – RESTRICT
RED STAGE – CONTROL
Important Factors to Consider Overall:
- Private Property Guest Restrictions: Private property is considered a house or a park as examples. If you are getting married at a venue and you are unsure if it’s private, it’s best to call them to understand as this will ultimately impact your guest count. We understand it’s difficult to see the low guest restrictions on private property, but this is in place because private property such as your home, does not have employees which makes it difficult to implement health and safety measures such as physical distancing. We do want to clarify that if you are planning a backyard wedding at your home and you are hiring event staff for food and beverage, this does not make your home a staffed venue. Your home is still considered a private property.
- Outdoor Weddings With Food & Beverage Indoors: It’s fantastic to see that in each colour-coded stage, 100 guests are allowed outdoors at staffed venues. However, we do want to caution that if you are hosting an outdoor ceremony and planning to transition lunch or dinner indoors, you must follow the indoor guest capacity restriction. For example, in the Green (Prevent) Stage, 100 guests are permitted outdoors but only 50 guests are permitted inside. Therefore, it’s imperative you understand this from a food and beverage standpoint. Start asking questions such as does my venue have space for food and beverage outside and if they do, do they have a rain plan? Once again, if you already have a venue, we strongly recommend you reach out to them to understand this.
- ‘Dancing, Singing, and Performing Music is Permitted, With Restrictions’: This statement in the Green, Yellow and Orange colour-coded stages leaves you puzzled, doesn’t it? It left us puzzled as well. After discussion with Public Health, what we found out was that what we consider ‘normal dancing’ during pre-COVID times is not permitted. What is permitted instead are things such as a first couple dance or a performance by a professional dance group who can maintain physical distancing from guests. We are hoping we can get some further clarity on what restrictions look like for this component down the road. But trust us – just like you, we are waiting for our couples and their guests to get crazy, wild and sweaty on the dance floor! Unfortunately, we don’t see this happening in this particular framework. It makes sense though right? Nightclubs are only allowed to operate as a restaurant and bar in each stage so the same should apply for weddings, right?
- Makeup Services: Unfortunately, in the Orange and Red colour-coded stage, services requiring removal of face coverings are prohibited. Therefore, professional makeup services are not allowed in these stages.
- Vendors: You can’t run a wedding without your wedding vendors. So, does this mean they are considered a part of the guest count? After discussion with Public Health, we have found out that vendors who are required to be on-site to execute your wedding in either a staffed venue or private property, are not considered a part of your guest count. If your caterer has to bring 5 employees to your wedding, they will not be considered as part of your guest count. This is great news!
We hope that providing you with a snapshot of the rules and regulations pertaining to weddings in Ontario’s reopening framework has helped. Once again, we do want to caution that these guidelines are subject to change, can vary from region to region and that it’s best you also contact your venue for clarity. If you have any questions or want to discuss how you can plan your wedding this year, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here. We’d be more than happy to discuss!
As a last thought, we want to say that seeing these restrictions can be a real bummer. But we do need to understand that they are in place to keep each other safe and healthy. Just remember, love will always conquer and you can still get married both happily and safely this year!