SINGAPORE: Ms Woon and her fiancé decided on March 1,2020 as the date to tie the knot, and after 15 months of planning, things were almost set.
However, the COVID-19 that landed in Singapore on Jan 23 has unraveled their plans. Ms Woon, 29, a legal counsel, said that she and her fiancé decided to postpone their wedding banquet and tea ceremony to December.
While they already began considering postponing some aspects of their wedding ceremony once news of the virus broke here, what cemented their decision was the escalation of the colour-coded Disease Outbreak Response System Condition from yellow to orange, she said.
“We have many guests who are flying in from overseas, and some of their flights are so long and we don’t know who will be on the flight, so we didn’t want them to take the risk,” she said.
Among the 30 to 40 guests who will be arriving from other countries are her two sisters who live with their families in the United Kingdom.
“They have young children and some of my parents’ relatives coming from Malaysia are elderly, so they are more vulnerable,” she said.
Before the decision was made, some guests had already asked whether it would be possible to postpone the wedding.
They checked with the five-star city hotel venue, and they agreed to postpone the wedding, with no penalty.
While the couple has decided to go ahead with their solemnisation, they have to yet to secure an event space for it. They are looking at a small gathering of about 30 people, as opposed to the 60 people they would have been able to accommodate.
Ms Woon said she has also been lucky that her photographer and make-up artist are available on the new dates.
DROP-OUTS, FORFEITED DEPOSIT
However, others have not been as lucky. In a Telegram group that is bringing together couples whose weddings are affected by the virus, there are stories of forfeited deposits, drop-outs from many guests and cancellations by make-up artists from Malaysia.
Ms Lim, a counsellor, 30, cancelled her church ceremony due to be held in June, as she was not sure of the attendance. She forfeited the S$1,000 deposit she had paid.
However, she will be going on with her restaurant banquet on the same day, as cancelling that would cost her about S$12,000. Even then, she and her fiancé are cutting down the number of tables to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.
TAKING ADDITIONAL PRECAUTIONS
Others are ensuring that their guests will be at ease. Ms Charisse Lee’s wedding will take place this weekend at the Paya Lebar Methodist Church, which a confirmed case was reported to have visited.
Ms Lee has gone to great lengths to ensure that risk of infection is minimal. She sent a three-page document to guests which outlines the precautions which will be taken, including temperature-taking, a single exit that leads to a toilet where guests are encouraged to wash their hands with soap, and a registry in case contact tracing needs to be conducted.
Ms Sandra Lim, a private a tutor who set up the Telegram group, is also stepping up measures. Ms Lim’s wedding will be held next week. Alongside the gift box on her reception table at The Masons Table will be a bottle of sanitiser. She also intends to have someone moving about the guests with another bottle of sanitiser. Ms Lim is also finding ways to provide temperature-taking.
She and her fiancé will be sending a text message to guests ahead of the wedding to urge them not to attend the wedding if they are unwell, and that there will be no hard feelings. They are expecting about 140 guests.
Some of her guests, especially the elderly and those with children, have said they will not attend. However, she said she is grateful that the restaurant has been flexible about the minimum spending required.
Hotels CNA approached said that they being flexible and taking precautions.
Sofitel Singapore City Centre said all guests are required to fill in a mandatory health and travel declaration form and have their temperature taken prior to entering the ballroom.
Hand sanitisers are also available at the reception for guests to use.
“In addition, food served during the banquet will also be portioned out individually for each guest,” it said.
General manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts Patrick Fiat said that other than temperature-taking, the hotel has medical referral contacts readily available for guests and employees who are unwell, and that there is an increase in the frequency of sanitising public areas including lifts and toilets.
Sofitel Singapore City Centre is also being flexible with a change of plans.
“We have allowed couples to postpone their wedding until the end of the year with no penalty and are flexible with regards to the number of tables in light of the current situation,” it said.
Mr Fiat also said that couples will be allowed to postpone their weddings till the situation improves, “as we understand that it may be challenging for them and their loved ones”.
“Couples should try to stay calm and proactively call their guests ahead of their wedding to confirm the guest list and have an open conversation with their hotel wedding coordinator if they have any concerns with regards to their banquet,” Sofitel Singapore City Centre said.