Wedding bells are not ringing — just yet — for bride-to-be Jacquelynn Sharman and future groom Dan Scheuerpflug.
The province announced this week, starting 12:01 a.m. Friday, 10 people plus an officiant and a photographer/videographer will be allowed at Manitoba marriage ceremonies under newly-loosened COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
That's up from five people — a limit put in place in November, among other restrictions, while novel coronavirus infections skyrocketed in the province. Photographers and videographers hadn't previously been allowed.
However, the Winnipeg couple isn't rushing to hold a pared-down ceremony amidst the pandemic.
"It's just not worth it," Sharman said.
When the virus first arrived in Manitoba in March 2020, the couple waited with bated breath.
"Not only was I learning how to work from home and getting my home office set up, but I was also having to think constantly about the restrictions and about what was going on in the world, because of my upcoming wedding," said Sharman, who works for the federal government.
They decided in May to push back their late-summer wedding 2020 date all the way to August 2022.
"At that point, it did feel like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders, because I know no longer had to watch what was going on in the world so intently," she said.
Now, some of that stress has returned.
"It’s a lot of, ‘Should we keep planning? Should we postpone again? Should we just try to do everything last minute?" she said.
"It’s stressful in the way... it’s the fear of the unknown. I don’t necessarily want to put forth thousands and thousands of dollars that I don’t currently have… and then have to postpone again."
"I want to do it right, I want to celebrate with all of my closest friends and my closest family, even having to reduce the guest list… I don’t think to get family and close friends there we could do it with under 50 people." – Jacquelynn Sharman
The couple's uncertainty is compounded by circumstance.
Scheuerpflug's parents live in Saskatchewan and are in their mid-70s. The province requires 14 days of self-isolation for people returning or coming to Manitoba from all jurisdictions.
Plus, most of the wedding party and many close friends are Americans who can't enter Canada under current travel restrictions. (Scheuerpflug is a retired Canadian Armed Forces veteran who served overseas alongside U.S. military.)
"I want to do it right, I want to celebrate with all of my closest friends and my closest family, even having to reduce the guest list… I don’t think to get family and close friends there we could do it with under 50 people," Sharman said, adding she wants to hold her wedding safely, even entirely outdoors if need be.
"Right now, that’s all we can do. It’s waiting and hoping."
"Any current and new couples coming to us, we're just really advising them: (start) with making a few lists, where there are 10 guests, 20 guests, 30 guests.... We’re just trying to keep the hope and excitement alive, because really we just don’t know what’s going to come down the line." – Raydan Zacharias
Meanwhile, Winnipeg-based wedding planner Raydan Zacharias doesn’t necessarily expect anyone to call, hoping she can quickly arrange pandemic-safe nuptials for the weekend — but she’s open to it.
"If someone still wants to have their wedding here, right away, we definitely would be willing and able to turn around and get a 10-person wedding and we would do whatever we can to make that possible," the owner of Divine Weddings & Events said.
The loosened restrictions on nuptial ceremonies brings hope for the industry in the coming months, she said. Most of the upcoming weddings her company is planning have been moved to 2022.
"Some people have really adapted and enjoy having the smaller, intimate wedding," Zacharias said.
"Any current and new couples coming to us, we're just really advising them: (start) with making a few lists, where there are 10 guests, 20 guests, 30 guests.... We’re just trying to keep the hope and excitement alive, because really we just don’t know what’s going to come down the line."
Erik Pindera is a multimedia producer at the Winnipeg Free Press.