(Facebook/Emily McManus)

(Facebook/Emily McManus)

COVID-19 restart plan welcome but Chilliwack couple postpones wedding again

Bride Emily McManus is worried that restrictions, including those on international travel, may not be lifted by summer

British Columbia’s COVID-19 restart plan had Emily McManus scrambling to book a third wedding date, this time after more clarity about walking down the aisle without limiting the number of guests or worrying about who’s been vaccinated or is hugging and dancing too closely.

When the pandemic forced McManus to scrap her wedding last August, she decided to hold a small ceremony in Chilliwack with a total of 10 people but didn’t wear her wedding dress. She and her partner, Steven McManus, postponed their big day to this August and now to July 2022.

Provincial measures introduced Tuesday allow for up to 50 guests at outdoor events. McManus is worried those restrictions may not be lifted by summer, especially without enough people getting vaccinated, and that international travel may still not be permitted. That means her partner’s family from England couldn’t attend and relatives from Ontario would have to consider how travel could be affected for them.

McManus, 28, is also protective of her mother, who is immune-compromised after a liver transplant three years ago, and said she’d rather wait for a big wedding so she can experience the highlights of a day that would include lots of partying.

“Even if we were going to go through with it this year, it just seems stressful, so basically we now have nine weeks to invite everybody and get everything organized,” she said. “Hopefully, next year we can have a big party and hopefully COVID will be behind us, fingers crossed.”

McManus said there’s already been enough emotional angst attached to the wedding day so she’d rather look forward to seeing photos of that milestone day without people wearing masks.

Eron Jaskow, who owns an event planning company and was hired by McManus, said she got a flurry of calls and emails after Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the four-stage plan to reopen B.C.’s economy that would start to see a return to near normal by Labour Day.

Jaskow said she has told future brides anxious about whether they should go ahead with a scaled-down summer wedding to focus on what’s most important for them, especially after some of them had already cancelled a couple of times.

“If you can live without the big party and socialization aspect, if it comes down to just who’s there to witness you getting married and perhaps enjoy a light reception afterwards, then go for it. But if you’re looking for that big ambience, the festivity of your wedding, it’s going to be very different right now.”

Those getting married may also have a tough time finding caterers, officiants, DJs and venues in 2022 because of a rush on bookings from delays over two seasons, she said.

Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, said she would like to see more first doses of a vaccine administered, to a level of about 90 per cent of people who are eligible, in order to reduce transmission of the virus in B.C.

Nearly 60 per cent of eligible residents had received their first dose by Tuesday, but the number of second doses still stands at about three per cent for all eligible adults. The province is aiming to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of residents while focusing on second doses as it moves forward with reopening plans.

“We need those second doses out because they provide that extra level of protection and it will help with variants we have now,” Colijn said.

However, first doses should remain a priority to prevent more transmission of COVID-19 as the number of indoor gatherings increase and more people ride transit to events, she said.

Heidi Tworek, a University of British Columbia professor who specializes in health communications, said easing restrictions should also include a plan to provide mental health resources for people who may deal with phobias about interacting with others after more than a year of keeping their distance.

“It raises questions about how we help people get there, not assuming that that will be simple for people, like a light switch on Sept. 8 being back to where they were last March 1,” she said.

“The communication is going to be really crucial, not just releasing a plan to keep explaining and reassuring why this is the plan and updating people,” Tworek said.

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