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Getting Married during a Pandemic

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Marriage ceremonies, or weddings, are among the most important events in the lives of many people. The COVID-19 health crisis has severely affected weddings and damaged the multi-billion dollar industry that supports them.

Because of the virus, many couples in the United States and around the world have had to postpone “The Big Day” -- another way of saying wedding.

But now that some areas have eased rules on public gatherings, plenty of couples are ready to say, “I do!” However, they may need to wear a face mask when they say it. And that has led to some problems.

Many couples are not willing to have a pandemic-looking wedding party. So, they are not willing to follow restrictions on large gatherings -- like wearing face masks, limiting the number of guests and social-distancing.

Brides wearing wedding dresses hold a flash mob near Trevi fountain to protest against the postponement of their weddings due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Rome, Italy, July 7, 2020.

In early July, Reuters also reported that wedding venues in Turkey had re-opened, but with restrictions. Guests’ temperatures were taken upon arrival. Tables had to be separated. And everyone -- including the bride and groom -- had to wear masks.

The marketing research company KPMG says that families in India spend an estimated $50 billion on weddings every year. The market in the U.S. is also huge, worth more than $72 billion a year.

To make couples happy, some places, or venues, in the U.S., are not following coronavirus safety restrictions. And this may be putting wedding industry workers at risk.

Wedding planners, photographers and musicians are just some of the people who earn money from wedding parties and related events. The pandemic quickly put a stop to their earnings.

So now, as more couples are getting married, those employed in the wedding industry have little choice but to work. Recently, some have begun sharing stories of health risks.

One of them is Susan Stripling, a photographer from New York. She reported recently that some venues are not following guidelines on masks or limiting the number of wedding guests.

In Chicago, photographer Cherie Schrader told The Associated Press (AP) she felt tricked. Before taking a wedding job, Schrader had been told that all safety guidelines would be followed. Yet when she showed up for a July wedding, she found 165 unmasked people indoors and no signs of social distancing.

“It looked like a normal wedding pre-COVID,” she said.

Alexis Alvarez of Chicago works as a wedding planner. She said her bridal parties have reduced the number of guests to help with social distancing. They are also asking guests to wear masks.

She told the AP, “The reality is guests that don’t feel safe attending events … aren’t going to.”

Alvarez uses other safety measures at her weddings.

Tables are spaced farther apart than usual. When possible, people are grouped by family. To avoid crowd issues, she advises some couples to hold separate celebrations with smaller groups of people at different times.

The face mask issue

Some couples argue that face masks will ruin the memories of their Big Day. Other couples are giving guests the choice to wear or not to wear a face mask. Still others are wearing beautiful face masks that match the wedding gown.

In Turkey, Biricik Kiziltas, a bridal gown designer, makes beautiful masks for the brides.

“Brides are already feeling sad, and they have no excitement,” she told Reuters, “so we tried to make something to cheer them up.”

Wedding planner Lynne Goldberg is organizing a December wedding party for 200 guests. The venue will be the home of the bride’s parents in upstate New York.

Goldberg says the couple and their families do not want the pandemic to affect their wedding plans. So, there will be no face masks and no social distance warnings at the wedding.

Planning a wedding for 200 guests while social distancing is difficult, Goldberg said, “but doable.” But asking 200 guests to not wear masks, she added, “is crazy.”

Alexis Alvarez said she understands that face masks in photos and videos may ruin the look for many couples.

“The big question everyone needs to be answering right now,” she said, “is -- what’s the moral responsibility?”

Weddings causing COVID-19 outbreaks remain rare. But they do happen.

Back in early June, Reuters reported that a wedding party in Iran likely caused an increase in coronavirus infections. President Hassan Rouhani made this claim on state television, the story explained.

Reuters reported last month that Australia had banned singing, dancing and mingling at weddings. Health officials did this after an increase in COVID cases were reported.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Anna Matteo.

And I’m Bryan Lynn.

Words in This Story

couple – n. two people who are married or who have a romantic or sexual relationship

pandemic  medical noun : an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area or throughout the world

guest – n. a person who is invited to a place or an event as a special honor

bride – n. a woman just married or about to be married

groom – n. a man who has just married or is about to be married

photographer – n. a person who takes photographs especially as a job

cheer up – phrasal verb

crazy – adj. unable to think in a clear or sensible way

moral – adj. considered right and good by most people : agreeing with a standard of right behavior

mingle – v. to move around during a party, meeting, etc., and talk informally with different people

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