Long-standing Jersey events caterer Simon Harper has written to senior ministers to express his frustrations at the continued restrictions on guest numbers at weddings, and other events - he shared his letter with Express.
"Further to the announcement that wedding receptions are to be increased to 50 guests, I am still frustrated at the disparity between a private garden and a licensed venue.
It seems that the reasoning behind this decision, is the apparent increased risk that people will enter the home of a private garden to use the toilet and also perceived lack of controls in place. In over 25 years’ experience of catering for hundreds of weddings I do not believe this is the case.
Wedding couples always have portaloos in the garden, as the last thing they want is people traipsing into their house. If this is what is preventing an increase to unlimited numbers, I’m sure people would be happy to have a “no going in the house” rule !
Furthermore, I believe that the risk is lower for a wedding party that is held in their private garden / premises rather than a hotel or a restaurant, as there is no interaction with people who are not part of that Group. In an indoor venue, there is generally less room and less air circulating than in a marquee. There is absolutely no reason that the same controls can’t be put into place in a private garden, that are in place in a licensed venue, whether it be a marquee or hotel / restaurant.
Whilst I’m sure wedding couples are grateful that they can invite an extra 30 guests , I’m sure there will also be a lot of heartache in deciding who those 30 are, and letting the rest know they are not in the chosen few.
It is farcical that a wedding couple could hold their reception for unlimited numbers in a licensed venue, but are restricted to 50 guests if they decided to hold it in the garden next door to that venue, but separated by a fence!
With my vast experience in the event and wedding industry, I am disappointed that nobody has been in contact with me or my other colleagues in the industry to discuss the practicalities of an event or wedding being held during a pandemic.
Sadly any change in numbers is too late for most wedding couples, but I know of at least 2 weddings at the end of May that are had invited 100 guests for a marquee wedding but have now uninvited half of them. Even if we could salvage their wedding plans, that would be some good news for someone at least.
I am well aware of the complexity of the challenges of COVID and I am grateful for the small concession made; however I strongly feel this does not go far enough and implore you, as a matter of urgency, to reconsider the facts.