Weddings still on hold despite ‘govt’s blessing’

by NUR HANANI AZMAN/ pic by BERNAMA

WEDDING planners, caterers and event management companies might have to wait a little longer before their businesses can be fully rebooted as Malaysian couples are still having the jitters to tie the knot amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Association of Wedding Ceremony Operators Malaysia president Zarinah Mohideen said clients are still indecisive about their wedding plans due to safety and health concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus, despite the government’s decision to allow such receptions to be held from July 1.

She said some clients had already paid deposits of 20%, 40%, 60% and even 90%, but they still could not decide if they want to hold their receptions any time soon.

“We understand their concerns, and I think it is best for the brides and grooms to discuss further with their wedding planners. They can at least start by picking a date.

“In fact, if they still want to continue with their wedding receptions or feasts with a large number of invitees, each ceremony can be divided into different sessions,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

The different sessions — each would allow a maximum capacity of 250 people in a room — would help planners and clients to still manage the numbers while adhering closely to the stipulated standard operating procedures (SOPs).

On June 24, the green light was given for social gatherings, including wedding and engagement receptions, as well as religious ceremonies such as tahlil, akikah and doa selamat.

The ruling allows a gathering of up to 250 people, effective July 1, along with a set of SOPs that must be adhered to.

Zarinah, who is also the MD of Zarlith Events & Management Sdn Bhd, said the government’s decision to allow wedding ceremony would ideally save the jobs of 200,000 workers in the wedding planning industry.

However, with most couples having cold feet due to the pandemic, Zarinah said the main issue now lies with the millions of refunds that might have to be dealt with.

She said wedding planners now would have to meet the consumer association to discuss refund matters since more than half of the clients are asking for their money back, while the remaining said it is okay to postpone their weddings.

Zarinah said according to the usual terms and conditions as agreed by both planners and clients, deposits are non-refundable.

“An estimated 300,000 weddings are held in the country every year.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a huge number of weddings to be postponed this year,” she added.

However, Zarinah said some of the association members are faring better than the rest as they are already fully booked for the weekends, with ceremonies being organised as early as July 4.

She said SOPs include the scanning of body temperature of each guest, the wearing of face masks at all times and adequate sanitisers throughout each ceremony, among others.

“There also will be no hand shake or close contact with the bride and groom as we don’t want to create a new cluster. We all need to stay careful.

“Every guest, who attends any wedding ceremony, must maintain social distancing,” she added.

Your DIY Projects Sdn Bhd owner Raja Juliza Raja Soid said party and event rental suppliers are also beginning to receive bookings for dais and decorations that look grander.

“During the Movement Control Order (MCO), people rent simple and minimalist decorations as solemnisation ceremonies were mainly held online.

“Now, we are beginning to receive grander requests for various gatherings, including birthdays, baby showers and baby naming ceremonies,” she told TMR.

While the bigger planners are forecasting a rather gloomy year, Raja Juliza said smaller outfits are beginning to get the momentum going from as early as August.

“More people are inquiring about the best dates as they place their bookings for the month of August. July is also good.

“But in this time of complex uncertainties, we really hope that event organisers would follow the SOPs and take all the necessary precautions,” she said.

Full-time make-up artist Nurul Aini Zainal said the last few months had been “very sad” and tough for her business.

“Before the MCO, I would be involved in between two and three brides each weekend. I used to earn almost RM4,000 per month.

“But I earned nothing during MCO. Luckily, the banks introduced the six-month loan moratorium. If it weren’t for the deferment, I definitely would not be able to pay for my car loan,” she told TMR.

Nurul Aini said almost all her clients, who had booked for her make-up service since March, had decided to either postpone or cancel their weddings altogether.

“Now, with the Recovery MCO, even if the demand is not as high, at least there’d be two to three brides who’d use my service each month,” she added.