Weddings return without the dancing

Even group photos, like this one taken at the Sebel in November, will have to be done differently now.

Kiama’s wedding industry is on the cusp of recovery, as couples begin to make new plans to fit in with the latest COVID-19 arrangements.

“We have got our first wedding happening in mid-August,” says the Sebel’s General Manager, Craig Hardy.

“Very few people have canceled their weddings with us, with most pushing their dates into the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next.

“It has been a very stressful time for them, as they look at how to reduce their numbers without causing offence and deal with looking after older relatives.”

As of 1 July, there are no set maximum guest numbers. Instead, the venues are limited by how many they can fit in using the four square metre formula.

Whereas once the Sebel could cater for 140 in its downstairs marquee and restaurant, it can now only seat up to 90.

Similarly, their upstairs function room used to seat 115 and now can only seat 60.

“Our average wedding is for 80-100 people, so we still have capacity,” says Mr Hardy.

“The thing people are going to miss is not having a dance floor.

“Even entertainers have to be three metres away from the guests.”

With the hotel having gone into hibernation in April and May, Mr Hardy is pleased with the way things have bounced back.

“We have had strong demand for accommodation as people want to get outside of Sydney.”

Jackie Hall, Events, Conferences and Marketing Coordinator at the Pavilion Kiama, is pleased at least the bridal party can dance.

“It wouldn’t be a wedding without the bridal dance,” she says.

The Pavilion has been similarly fielding lots of wedding enquiries, and rescheduling postponed weddings as none canceled.

“At this stage we think we might have a wedding in August, we already have three locked in for the October long weekend, and the end of the year is solidly booked.

“People are feeling they are able to start organising something again, but they need a bit of lead time to resend invitations and the like.”

Where once the Pavilion could hold up to 240 guests, it is now limited to weddings of 120.

“I’m really grateful we have lots of space to offer a COVID-safe environment,” says Jackie.

“It will take a bit for everyone to get used to the new rules, but people are so happy the really tight restrictions are over.”

Even seating plans will be looked at in a different way, with families being encouraged to sit together rather than being dispersed.

Sonya Slyer of Bush Bank on the Kiama Bends says they are getting a lot of enquiries for 2021/2, and will be having their first wedding in October.

“All of our affected weddings have rebooked, despite us offering to refund them,” she says.

The economic flow-ons to a region from weddings is significant, with adjunct service providers – such as photographers, florists, hairdressers and event organisers – also rejoicing at the return of larger weddings.

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