Weddings were put on hold when COVID-19 forced venues to shut down and put in place restrictions on social distancing. After a year of postponing, brides and wedding vendors on Long Island want some restrictions lifted to make their special days feel as normal as possible.
In New York, the current restrictions limit gatherings to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors, and for private residences 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. The guidelines require all wedding guests to provide proof of negative tests 72 hours prior to the event or vaccination. In addition, there are designated dancing areas to keep households together.
The Brides of Long Island, a website and Facebook group where over 14,000 brides-to-be and newlyweds share ideas and their wedding vendor reviews, released a petition and letter, urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to consider brides and ceremonies when announcing the relaxing of restrictions now that there’s a downturn in coronavirus infections.
“Lets just simplify it,” said Heather Cunningham, the group’s founder, “make it even for everyone across the board, in a reasonable and safe way.”
“I would like to think that my very loud and proud brides will make enough noise to get Governor Cuomo’s attention. That’s the goal,” she continued. “So, you know, hopefully he hears us and takes into consideration what we’re proposing.”
The organization wants Cuomo to eliminate COVID-19 testing requirements for weddings up to 150 at 50% capacity, put wedding vendors on the vaccine eligibility list, lift the midnight curfew and to let people dance.
“These incredibly restrictive rules are forcing many brides to reschedule or cancel their weddings, hold smaller events at their homes, or in a devastating blow to our local vendors, decide to get married out of state,” the petition said.
Cunningham said couples are taking their business elsewhere. The wedding industry on Long Island generates an estimated $6 million a year in sales tax.
“New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, a lot are going down to Florida,” she said. “So that’s hurting us badly, our money, our economy, so if there’s a way that we can do weddings similar to our neighboring states, while keeping things as safe as can be, I think that’s the better way to go about it.”
The organization has gained support from wedding photographers, make-up artists, painters, DJs and other wedding vendors.
“Well, it just means that these thousands of people can get back to work,” Cunningham said. “I mean, they’ve been out for a year, that’s a long time, and we are seeing companies go out of business left and right.”
Cunningham lost her storefront wedding business last July and said she will most likely not be able to reopen.
The petition has over 5,000 signatures as of Friday.