By Michael Giles
WEDDINGS are off again this weekend, all over Victoria, and despite a further easing of restrictions in regional Victoria at 11.59pm on Thursday, June 10, several weddings will not be going ahead locally as well.
Phillip Island Ceremonies wedding celebrant, Pam Lewis, was supposed to have a wedding this weekend but it has had to be cancelled.
“They’ve tried three times now. They were going to get married on the Island and put in a lot of preparation but this time, they decided to have a smaller group, but the venue was in the Yarra Valley, which is included in the Melbourne metro lockdown,” said Pam this week.
“Everyone is very disappointed, and they’ve had to call around and tell everyone again.
“The earliest they can get now is in November, so fingers crossed, they are able to get married then.”
Ms Lewis said she did the ceremony for another local couple, who succeeded at their fifth attempt, due to the COVID restrictions, in February this year.
“They were supposed to get married in Bali but ultimately had a nice ceremony here.
“On the positive side, I had a lovely couple call me today to say they will be getting married next month on the Island. Hopefully we’re all in the clear by then.”
Cruel blow for wedding reception centres
At The Shearing Shed on Phillip Island, one of the region’s most popular wedding reception centres, the story is even more distressing.
They’ve had to cancel five weddings this month alone.
“They locked us down on, when was it, Thursday, May 27, and we had a wedding that weekend and had already done all of the ordering and put on the staff,” said venue owner Abbie Patton.
“We postponed one last weekend, our second, and we can’t go ahead this Saturday (May 12), because they wanted to have a lot more than 20 guests.
“We’ve had to postpone one on the 19th, our fourth lost wedding, because the changes won’t come in soon enough for us to finalise the ordering.
“And another couple, who were supposed to be married at the end of the month have so little confidence in what’s going on that they’ve cancelled just to be on the safe side – our fifth lost wedding.
“It’s the same right through July with everyone unsure what’s going to happen and on the brink of calling it off.
“We’ve actually had cancellations right through to next March. It’s pretty distressing, especially when you have staff that aren’t getting any government support.”
Ms Patton said The Shearing Shed employed a permanent grounds person, a chef and bar manager, regardless of the work, but there were up to 16 casuals, some of whom had left for other jobs and would be permanently lost to hospitality and others who needed to look for work.
“The inability to plan with any confidence is really killing this industry at the moment.”
The Shearing Shed is just one of dozens of wedding venues across South Gippsland and Bass Coast dealing with similar issues, exacerbated by their inability to get access to new government support payments.
On June 4, 2021, the Australian Government announced the new COVID-19 Disaster Payment of $500 for eligible Victorian workers but conditions, including inability to work due to restrictions for more than a week, rules out those in regional areas.
Monash MP Russell Broadbent went into bat for affected regional Victorians, but so far to no avail.
As of 11.59pm on Thursday, June 10, the following restrictions apply to weddings in regional Victoria:
* Weddings regional (indoor and outdoor): Permitted with no more than 20 people (including the two persons being married, celebrant, two witnesses).
* Weddings Melbourne metro (indoor and outdoor): Permitted with no more than 10 people (including the two persons being married, celebrant, two witnesses).