'Another level of stress': Couples worry about pre-event COVID-19 testing for wedding guests under new rules

'Another level of stress': Couples worry about pre-event COVID-19 testing for wedding guests under new rules

Couple wedding rings
File photo of wedding rings. (Photo: AFP/Jay DIRECTO)

SINGAPORE: When tighter restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 were announced on Tuesday (May 4), Stanley’s mind went blank. The changes would mean that guests at his wedding reception on Saturday will need to be swabbed.

On Tuesday, the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force announced that the number of attendees allowed for wedding receptions and marriage solemnisations without pre-event testing will be decreased from 100 to 50 from this Saturday.

Wedding receptions can still proceed with more than 50 people and up to 250 attendees, but pre-event testing would be required for all unvaccinated attendees. They will also have to be separated into zones or timeslots of 50 people each.

For marriage solemnisations of similar sizes, only unvaccinated wedding couples have to do pre-event testing.

READ: Enhanced precautionary measures for religious organisations under tightened COVID-19 measures

Stanley and his fiance Megan had to decide what to do. The couple, who requested to go only by their first names, had postponed their wedding twice before.

Their wedding was initially due to take place on May 9 last year, but it was postponed to January this year, and then again to May.

Speaking to CNA, Stanley said they considered postponing again, but decided to proceed with the wedding after checking with close friends.

READ: Cap of 5 people for social gatherings, household visits to return as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

“My mind was blank, the stress was there, it was another level of stress,” the 33-year-old groom-to-be said.

“Our Whatsapp and Telegram (chats) were being spammed by everybody (asking) if there are any changes, (if we are) postponing the wedding."

Megan said that she was shocked and felt “very unlucky”.

“Out of all the days, it just had to be that day, and we are already so near, and we already postponed twice,” she said.

 

covid-19 restrictions on events, may 4, 2021 - infographic

While they will be carrying on as planned, they said they are facing some challenges. The couple has invited separate groups of 150 guests for their solemnisation in the morning at a church and 100 guests for their reception in the evening at Orchard Hotel.

Under the current rules, their guests at both events would not have had to undergo pre-event testing. However, tighter restrictions that take effect on their wedding day mean that guests to their reception who have not been vaccinated will have to be swabbed. 

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), attendees who completed their COVID-19 vaccination in Singapore at least two weeks before the wedding will be exempted from pre-event testing.

The couple will also have to be swabbed for their solemnisation.

READ: Possibility of circuit breaker ‘not ruled out’ as COVID-19 task force announces tighter measures

"I (have been) calling up all our guests … to see if they are comfortable with taking the test for the pre-event testing, if they are comfortable to even come out for the reception or solemnisation,” he said.

“The couples have to foot the bill for the tests, so it’s also a financial decision that has to be made, and all the guests have to come earlier.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, 10 per cent to 20 per cent of their guests have pulled out of the wedding, he said. The hotel is checking with their vendors to see if they can provide testing services - if not, guests will have to arrange to take a test themselves, he said. 

While things are up in the air for them, the couple said that they have found a silver lining - that they would be having more intimate events. They also took comfort that they have friends who gave their "unconditional support" to any decision they make.

POSTPONING IS AN OPTION

Another affected bride is Ms Joy Wang. The 28-year-old was planning to get married on May 22 at the Shangri-la Hotel in the presence of 100 guests, with the date picked out before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, things are in limbo for her partner and her.

“I’m panicking,” she said.

Of the 100 guests to the wedding reception, 63 would need to undergo testing, she said. The rest will have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before her wedding date, she added.

While the hotel may be able to provide a room to facilitate the testing, this would require guests to reach the venue at staggered times, she said.

READ: Mandatory TraceTogether-only SafeEntry brought forward to May 17

“They need to come at 3pm to be tested, then again for dinner at 7pm. It might be too inconvenient for some guests, so they may have second thoughts before confirming their attendance," she said.

Those who decide to go to the wedding may have to get their testing done on their own if the staggered testing proves too difficult to pull off, she said. 

The process to get to the wedding date has been a long one, she added, with things “ever-changing” and information slow to come.

On Apr 24, the limit for solemnisations and receptions was increased from 100 to 250 with pre-event testing requirements. But the hotel was not clear on whether there would be changes to safe management measures, and was waiting for a page detailing the rules on marriage solemnisations and receptions to be updated, she said.

READ: Singapore returns to tighter COVID-19 measures: What's allowed under the new rules?

They were not sure how far apart tables had to be – information that they would need to decide how many guests the ballroom could hold, she said. They also did not know the measures to take to facilitate the pre-event testing, she added.

“There was no information for one whole month,” she said.

She also lamented the additional cost of the pre-event testing, which can go up to S$5,000 in total, she said, adding that she does not know what her next steps will be.

“There’s a possibility of postponing it. It is one of our options. We need a good date, and make sure of the availability of the hotel,” she said. 

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Source: CNA/ja(mi)

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