New Restrictions Concern Owners of Reopening Wedding Venues

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Wedding bells are ringing again in Massachusetts as Phase 3 allows larger events to resume, but not everyone in the business is happy to say "I Do" to some of the new rules.

At The Villa in East Bridgewater, employees are setting up for a wedding on Friday. It will be their first since the pandemic forced them to shut down. Under the new guidelines, bars and dance floors are still off limits and plexiglass barriers are part of the décor.

"We've been in good communication with the couple and they're like, 'We're ready to go, we're ready to do it,'" Jon Saphire of Saphire Events Group said.

Saphire owns several wedding venues in Massachusetts, including The Villa. In Phase 3, he is allowed to have outdoor events with up to 100 people, but his indoor ballrooms sit empty. Saphire said the maximum capacity of 25 guests is just not feasible.

"It's really not a reopening. It's basically a continued closure," Saphire said.

Saphire is not the only one in the business of happily ever after who is not happy with the state's guidelines, especially for indoor spaces. On Thursday, wedding venue owners from across the state gathered at the Canoe Club in West Bridgewater to discuss what to do next. Their goal is to come up with a plan that is more specific to weddings and events and pitch it to state leaders. They claim it could save their industry.

"That is why this is an emergency and why today is so critical," Mike Gallant, the owner of Oceanview of Nahant said. "We need to create awareness and understanding of our industry."

The venue owners are hopeful things will change in the second step of Phase 3. They said it is hard to send save-the-dates without knowing what date restrictions will be lifted.

"'What's it going to look like? What will my wedding look like and how many people can I have at my wedding?' We would love to give them that now," Saphire said.

The owners are hopeful they can salvage some of this wedding season. With so many couples choosing to postpone, they said a lot of 2021 is already booked up.

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