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Getting married amid outbreak is 'irresponsible', warn wedding planners

20 March 2020 - 12:51 By Nonkululeko Njilo
With 202 cases of coronavirus recorded in South Africa on Friday, local wedding planners are advising clients to postpone their celebrations.
With 202 cases of coronavirus recorded in South Africa on Friday, local wedding planners are advising clients to postpone their celebrations.
Image: 123RF/Ruth Black

With more than 200 cases of Covid-19 recorded in SA on Friday, local wedding planners said getting married may be a very irresponsible thing do, even though this advice will means more loss of business.  

Johannesburg-based wedding planner Precious Thamaga said she had advised clients to postpone their celebrations to limit the spread of the virus and avoid disappointments.

“I decided to be proactive and contacted clients who had bookings. I advised they postpone to later dates because going ahead would be irresponsible and put people’s lives in jeopardy,” she said.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Wednesday announced the gazette on the regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act.

Part of the regulations assert that gatherings with 100 people (and more) are prohibited: “An enforcement officer must, where a gathering takes place, order the persons at the gathering to disperse immediately; and if they refuse to disperse, take appropriate action, which may, subject to the criminal procedure act, include arrest and detention.”  

Thamaga said while gatherings with less than 100 people were still allowed, she had not encouraged anyone to proceed with their marriage celebration.

“There’s a lot to consider. A client may decide to have 70 guests, for example, but there’s also workers involved, which takes the number up and puts people in danger,” she said.  

“Another downside is that chances of half the guests not pitching are quite high because everyone is concerned about the outbreak.”

Durban-based wedding planner Loga Henri said the outbreak had also dramatically affected her business. Just this week, she had 15 cancellations of weddings, parties and corporate events.

“It’s pretty bad because for some of us, this is our only source of income. Business was starting to pick up last month, but it seems we’ve just entered into darkness,” she said.  

Small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Thursday said the government would help small businesses hit hard by the virus.

Henri said she hoped the crisis would soon be over as it had taken a huge toll on many people. While she also encouraged clients planning big events to postpone, she said one client insisted on having a big party for their child as all planning had been finalised.

Also affected by the new regulations is Lesego Seokwang, whose dream of having a lavish traditional wedding with 300 guests has been crushed.

Seokwang anticipated she would tie the knot with the love of her life later this month at her matrimonial home in the Northern Cape, but she has been forced to postpone her wedding indefinitely.    

“It was a tough decision to make. I had so much anxiety because we had been planning for this. We had to consult both our parents and eventually decided to postpone because we didn’t want to be part of the problem,” she told TimesLIVE.

Seokwang said while she could have continued with the wedding with fewer guests, she did not want to exclude anyone.  

“It was not going to be the same. Who do you cut? We have elderly family members, pregnant friends and ones with young babies. We did not want to endanger anyone.”