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COVID-19: Weddings are allowed again in Malaysia, but industry players expect lull to continue

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite green light from the Malaysian authorities allowing weddings to take place again from Jul 1, those in the industry are prepared for the lull in business to continue as couples take a wait and see approach. 

Ms Lane Ho, the principal planner at MY Wedding Planner told CNA that most of her clients are waiting to see if the government would further ease COVID-19 restrictions later in the year.

“The very important thing is all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that need to be complied with. If you look at the National Security Council requirements, guests would need to wear masks and only five guests can sit at a table which would usually accommodate 10. 

“Besides that, people cannot walk around or gather for cocktails. Even photography sessions would require social distancing. That would definitely mess up the vision that the couple had in mind for their big day, so a lot of our clients would rather wait,” she said.

Ms Ho, who usually has at least one wedding every weekend during the June to July period, said her earliest booking after the easing of the restrictions is at the end of September.

On Jun 24, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that weddings and social events will be allowed starting Jul 1. However, guest capacity would be limited to 250 people. 

The minister also stressed that SOPs such as the using of masks and social distancing should be complied with, in addition to limiting the duration of the event to a maximum of five hours.

READ: COVID-19 – MICE sector and spas to resume operations from Jul 1, says Malaysia Senior Minister

Newlywed couples react during a mass wedding in Kuala Lumpur

Newlywed couples react during a mass wedding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

Mr Cassian Tan from Cassian Kitchen Catering Service said that his clients did not want to “take the chance” during COVID-19.

“Right now, there are a lot of grey areas and the onus of ensuring the guests comply with the SOPs is an added stress that the couples need to take on. So at the end of the day, their wedding may end up being more stressful than enjoyable,” he said.

“Yes, everyone is stressed on their wedding day, but in this case, they would need to worry for at least 14 days after their wedding to make sure everyone is okay. I don’t think any of my clients want that extra stress at the moment.”

READ: Malaysian couple opts for Skype wedding amid COVID-19 curbs – in their respective homes

CHALLENGING TO ARRANGE FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

With the various health protocols in place, wedding photography has become a challenging exercise.

Wedding photographer Nick Lim said that his clients had told him not to be present at their wedding because it would be a “waste of time”.

This was just after he explained to them that the National Security Council had issued SOPs for photography sessions which include maintaining social distancing during photos as well as requirements for crowd control.

“The bride I was speaking to was almost in tears. She simply said that she would rather I just photograph them at home,” he said, noting that the couple wanted to avoid a hassle during the event. 

In the end, the plan was modified to shoot their immediate families at their respective homes, followed by some shots at the wedding venue.

“As a photographer, even for me, it would be difficult to tell people to stand 1m apart in photos … Moreover, if there is alcohol being served at the wedding, things will get much harder,” said Mr Lim.

He was echoed by Raj Photography’s Danish Raj who said he encountered a lot of frustration when speaking with his clients.

“They are happy that they can go ahead with their celebration. But the thing is, when you have to prepare for a celebration like preparing for surgery, it might be quite overwhelming … I cannot imagine what they are going through,” he said.

Mr Raj said many of his clients have simplified things to a pre-wedding or post-wedding shoot. “I think they are worried about how things may go down on that day with all those SOPs in place,” he said.

ENQUIRIES POURING IN BUT BUSINESS FAR FROM USUAL

Wedding makeup artist Nurhafizah Ibrahim shared that the number of enquiries has certainly surged since the announcement on Jun 24, but added that it was far from her usual numbers.

“Yes, the number of enquiries has surged … Things are slowly getting back to normal, but not as busy as the same time last year. I believe it is because clients are still very uncertain about everything.

“I feel like probably by the end of the year, maybe December, the numbers will start getting back to normal. But then again, that would depend on COVID-19 and whether it (the pandemic) is still around,” she said.

The makeup artist who specialises in Malay weddings added that she usually did up to five clients a day around the middle of the year. However, she is now limiting herself to three clients a day so as to give her enough time to strerilise her equipment. 

Blush Beauty and Beyond’s Dinesh Nair also told CNA that he has dealt with many enquiries since the announcement was made.

“I do have a wedding in July, but a lot of my clients only start from September.

“Business is definitely not back to normal yet. On a regular weekend, we would usually have three or four brides and receptions that stretch into Mondays. Then we also have pre-wedding shoots on Thursdays and Fridays, so all that is not happening now,” he said.

The owner of the makeup artist firm added: “I think it would take about eight months to a year before things get back to normal for us, because my clientele are mostly Indians and they all want their big fat Indian wedding. Now with all the SOPs, it is definitely going to take time.”

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