New restriction at DC weddings is turning brides and grooms away

Brides and grooms are now forced to shift gears and find creative ways to plan one of the biggest days of their lives. A year into the pandemic, safety guidelines are still getting in the way for those planning weddings in D.C.

READ MORE: DC to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, offering walk-up vaccinations starting May 1

As wedding season kicks off in May, D.C. has a strict new rule in place. Guests cannot dance or stand during a wedding cocktail hour or reception.

FOX 5 spoke to Jillian Harig, a bride who is getting married in July, and she believes there is a better solution.

"We’re used to wearing masks at this point, we’ve been doing this since March. Why not allow dancing but make masks a requirement or even requiring a negative COVID test for wedding guests or provide your vaccination card," said Harig.

She said people look forward to having fun and dancing at a wedding as part of the celebration so this will change the experience brides and grooms are looking for.

"A lot of the country is reopening at this point so to me no dancing or standing at a reception seems like it’s a little bit more of stepping backwards instead of moving forward to more of that normalcy that we’re all looking forward to. I think the light is at the end of the tunnel. I am disappointed and shocked about this," said Harig.

READ MORE: DC crosswalk transforms into dance floor as group entertains drivers

For some couples no dancing and standing is a deal breaker so they’re looking to move their wedding to a place where restrictions are looser like their hometowns or Virginia or Maryland.

In Virginia, weddings are capped at 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. However, starting May 15, those numbers will increase to 100 people inside and 250 outside.

Over in Maryland, outdoor and indoor venues can operate at 50% capacity.

Both states do not have any sort of ban on dancing and standing during weddings like there is in D.C.

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The latest order in D.C. allows indoor and outdoor weddings to operate at 25% capacity – with a waiver required for more than 250 people that goes into effect on May 1.

However, guests must remain seated and socially distanced the entire time.

Stephanie Sadowski, Owner of SRS Events, said she feels blindsided by this new order Mayor Muriel Bowser put in place. She had a few weddings planned in D.C. and now she’s scrambling to relocate a lot of them due to this latest restriction.

"It has been a complete curveball. This goes beyond just May weddings that are initially effected. All of our summer weddings, all of our falls weddings are also very concerned and asking what should we do. Do we keep moving forward with these or look to move to Virginia or Maryland where it’s a very safe bet they can have their ideal wedding there," said Sadowski.

FOX 5 contacted the Mayor’s Office about the no dancing and standing ban at weddings. A spokeswoman said they have it in place as an extra layer of safety to reduce the spread of COVID-19 because when people stand and dance their behavior changes. For example, people are more likely to get close and touch each other. They did not respond to our request for an interview or further information about why the District feels the need to have that in place when neighboring states do not.

As for Harig, she plans to get married in D.C. in July, but hopes she is able to dance and stand with her family and friends.