Weddings in the time of COVID: How couples are coping
GETTING hitched in the time of COVID-19 isn't easy.
Regulations in Queensland are changing constantly.
Guest numbers are restricted and the allowed number is changing all the time.
There's no dancing allowed, except for the obligatory couple's dance and a dance between father and daughter.
At the moment, guests aren't even allowed to mingle at their venues.
So how are couples celebrating their love, abiding by regulations and making it an occasion to remember?
Cassie Simpson, who wed her husband Josh on August 22 in Hervey Bay, said the experience had been "crazy".
Her plans changed three to four times as they tried to adapt to make their wedding happen.
Josh's family live in Victoria and, as the second wave of COVID-19 hit the state, it became clear they wouldn't be able to attend.
Then the border between New South Wales and Queensland closed meaning his best man and one of his groomsman wouldn't be able to attend either.
One of Cassie's bridesmaids moved to the Northern Territory and couldn't return because of the border closure.
As venues closed due to COVID and tough restrictions were introduced, the couple decided they would exchange vows at lower Dayman Park and hold the reception at their home.
"It was an emotional rollercoaster," Cassie said.
"We just pushed through."
The couple used a iPad to livestream their wedding to loved ones using Facebook, making sure they were part of the celebration.
Cassie had a pair of socks made, with the face of Josh's best man on one foot and the face of the groomsman on the other.
She wrote on the note, "in case you get cold feet, your boys will be with you".
In the end, their day was perfect, Cassie said.
Josh's best man gave a speech via the livestream and the couple were able to celebrate their love together.
COVID-19 is giving couples who can't afford a huge wedding the chance to get hitched at a fraction of the cost.
That is what Hervey Bay wedding celebrant Cheryl Kidd-Lynch has been seeing since the pandemic began.
While 2021 was shaping up to be a bumper year for weddings as couples postponed or planned vow renewals after having a small ceremony this year, for some it was the chance to make the commitment without feeling the pressure to spend a fortune.
She said some couples needed to do it on a budget, as often one wasn't working because of the impact of the pandemic.
Ms Kidd-Lynch said the only negative was that the region's venues and restaurants were missing out on big dollars because of the regulations.
Next year could make up for that though, if couples decided to renew their vows and have the wedding they had dreamt of.
"Girls want to wear that dress again and show mum and dad," she said.
Ms Kidd-Lynch said she was doing her best to keep the mood positive in what had been a stressful time for couples.
"It's good fun, it's very casual, I just make light of everything," she said.
"The brides all look beautiful."
She is set to preside over three ceremonies this weekend.
"People don't want to put it off," Ms Kidd-Lynch said.
Natalie Stone, wedding planner from Urangan's Waterfront Restaurant, said the majority of couples were coping well with the changes and regulations.
"The unknown is more daunting than what is happening," she said.
Ms Stone said there were concerns among some couples that there couldn't be dancing and that family couldn't come.
But at the end of the day, it was still a celebration of their love, she said.
"That one thing they still say is that it was the most amazing day ever," she said.
With no guest dancing or mingling allowed due to regulations, Ms Stone said the venue had been coming up with games and encouraging people to participate to keep the mood fun and entertaining.
The venue had four elopements booked in this week, showing that for many, the most important thing was to formalise their commitment to one another.
While many were opting for a small ceremony now, couples were planning on a bigger celebration when borders reopened, Ms Stone said.
"We've had a number who have done a smaller package," she said.
"Every bride wants to wear her wedding dress twice - we're making it affordable so they can do both."