Shelby Simanton and Jesse Fischer look forward to their May 23 wedding — even though the virus leaves them uncertain about the size of the guest list. Many couples with destination weddings are dealing with other headaches.(Contributed photo.)

Virus prevention means scaling down or postponing the big day for many Red Deer-area couples

Guest lists and destination weddings are being re-examined

COVID-19 is giving central Alberta couples a valid reason for the pre-wedding jitters.

Shelby Simanton and Jesse Fischer are supposed to tie the knot on May 23 with 70 guests at their reception dinner.

Their big day now has to be down-scaled as legal gatherings in the province are limited to 50 people or less to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The couple is considering whittling their guest list down even further, to immediate family members only, since Simanton’s grandfather is officiating at the ceremony.

She doesn’t want to put him, or other vulnerable older people, in danger of falling seriously ill.

“In the worst-case scenario, we will still be married — just the two of us — and we’ll have to do a reception later on,” said Simanton.

The pharmacy technician already has a wedding dress, and her future mother-in-law has volunteered to do her hair.

While Fischer isn’t sure tux rental places will be open in a few weeks, the couple is staying as positive as possible in these “very stressful times,” said Simanton.

But she’s frustrated to have no response yet to the daily questions she receives from friends and relatives about her wedding plans.

Simanton and Fischer don’t want their marriage to be remembered for the wrong reason — consider the Edmonton bonspiel causing 12 viral infections — so they are waiting to see if Alberta’s viral cases will drop over the next few weeks before final decisions are made.

Other central Albertans with upcoming nuptials are having their wedding-size decision made for them.

Some local ministers, including Pastor Ben Elliott of the Deer Park Alliance Church, are telling couples to scale back their plans to immediate family and best friends.

“If they can all fit in my office, then it’s OK,” said Elliott, who advises having a huge celebration on their first anniversary instead.

Destination weddings are creating a different kind of headache, with the pandemic prompting international travel bans.

It’s ironic because getting married in an exotic locale is supposed to be easier, with resorts providing flowers, food and decor, said Shauna Sharp, of Red Deer’s Rock-It Travel.

Last week, Sharp put in some 16-hour days postponing seven local weddings that were supposed to take place at Mexican resorts in April.

All seven had to be rescheduled for later this year, or in 2021.

Emotions understandably ran high as she acted as intermediary between the resorts and the bridal couples.

But Sharp said the resorts were accommodating, and the disappointed local couples had to come to terms with delays at this unprecedented time.

“It’s been a really stressful situation,” admitted the travel agent, who anticipates things running more smoothly in the fall when she has 12 local destination weddings planned.

The hardest thing is the uncertainty, she admitted. Will the virus still be creating problems later in the year? Sharp keeps hearing this question, but nobody has the answer.

Coronavirus

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