Singapore

Couples scramble to meet tighter safety measures for weddings

Some fret over whether guests will mind getting swabbed, one decides to host lunch and dinner celebration

For the last two years, Ms Leona Ye has been meticulously planning for her big day on May 29.

With the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic looming large, the marketing manager kept her fingers crossed and hopes high, drawing up preparations for 100 guests to witness her wedding solemnisation and attend her reception at Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel.

Then came the announcement of new, stricter Covid-19 restrictions, which has left her scrambling to make additional arrangements.

"The first thing that came to mind is if our guests are comfortable with getting swabbed," Ms Ye, 27, told The New Paper yesterday.

On Tuesday, the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic announced tighter measures to help stem the recent spike in the number of infections.

TESTING

One of the new measures, which will take effect from Saturday to May 30, is the need for pre-event testing (PET) for all marriage solemnisations and wedding receptions with more than 50 attendees, down from the previous requirement of 100 attendees.

The current cap of 250 attendees - including the couple, but excluding the solemniser and vendors - at marriage solemnisations still stands, with guests split into zones of 50.

Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, had said: "In a wedding setting, the risks are higher. People are gathered together without masks and eating."

Ms Ye said that discussions are under way on how the tables in the banquet hall can be rearranged, as the seating arrangements for her guests are currently set at eight to a table.

"I also did a poll on Instagram and asked my friends if they would still want to attend a wedding if they are required to do PET. Twenty-five people said yes and 20 said no," she said.

A search on the Ministry of Health's (MOH) website shows that antigen rapid tests (ARTs) used in PET cost between $40 and $60.

According to MOH, the person must get tested before the start of the event and not more than 24 hours before the end of the event.

The time from swab registration to notification of result is typically around 30 minutes for ARTs.

Kingston Medical Group said it has been providing PET since last year.

Its spokesman added that it will facilitate PET at four weddings at Fullerton Hotel this weekend.

Said Ms Ye: "At $60 a person, the total cost for PET may go up to $6,000 for 100 people, which is not a small sum."

She added that fellow brides-to-be who are getting hitched this month have created a Telegram group chat to help one another with planning and queries.

In the chat, which has more than 250 members, some brides-to-be are frantically asking for advice on the way forward.

Meanwhile, some couples have decided to do away with the hassle of PET altogether.

A professional in the creative industry in his 40s, who wanted to be known only as Mr Y.H. Low, had been looking forward to his wedding reception at a hotel this Saturday afternoon, but the new curbs have complicated matters.

"Even though my fiancee and I saw it coming, it is still a bit of a letdown. But we are taking it in our stride and trying to make new plans as fast as we can," he told TNP.

Instead of getting guests to undergo PET, Mr Low and his fiancee plan to split the original group of 100 guests into two - 50 for lunch and 50 for dinner.

"But this means we need to iron out many logistical matters. For instance, we may need two emcees. We are also concerned that some guests have already made plans for dinner, and we would not want to disrupt their plans," he added.

A spokesman for Millennium Hotels and Resorts, which operates hotels such as Orchard Hotel and Copthorne King's Hotel, said its hotels will offer competitively priced PET from external vendors.

"We will be extending full flexibility for couples to reduce their guest list or postpone their wedding date," the spokesman added.

Ms June Choong, director of events at Grand Hyatt Singapore, said PET costs will have to be borne by the event organiser or attendees directly.

"We are offering our full support and complete flexibility to all couples impacted by this latest advisory," she added.

"For those that are intending to continue with a wedding larger than 50 people, our team of wedding planners will be offering all the information and assistance we can."

coronavirus