BALLARAT'S wedding industry anticipates it will be about 12 months behind in filling wedding requests once Victoria's restrictions are eventually lifted on large gatherings.
Like the accommodation and tourism industry, the wedding market across Ballarat has stopped in its tracks, as couples become concerned as to when they will be able to enjoy their nuptials surrounded by family and friends.
Business Manager of Golden Point's Willow and Stone Leisha Wachter (ok) said while the business would normally close down in the winter months, the lack of certainty about possible return dates meant new clients, who would normally tour the reception venue during this time of year, had been non existent.
"We've had to postpone three which were scheduled at the end of last season and fortunately all of the couples were happy to postpone," Ms Wachter said.
"We're not really getting new business as people are so unsure about the dates ahead. At this stage, we've rescheduled those three couples until later October to the end of December, but we're not able to take new booking until we've got all the back up dates for them.
"We're dealing with our current couples rather than trying to get new couples.
"We did have to cancel one for September as there would have been a number of overseas visitors for that particular event. It's incredibly disappointing, but all of our couples have been outstanding to deal with."
As of July 22, up to only 20 people, in addition to the celebrant and couple getting married, can attend a wedding.
If a wedding is held in a private residence, it will be limited to the members of the household, five attendees, plus the celebrant.
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Also from July 22, a celebrant from metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire must wear a face covering if attending a wedding outside of these areas.
The state government recently raised concerns about a number of people deliberately moving their weddings to regional Victoria in a way of avoid restrictions.
"We are facing a pandemic and this is not the time for parties - this includes traveling to regional Victoria to attend one," a spokesperson said.
Reception centres The Courier spoke to said they had not been aware of many couple attempting to avoid city restrictions.
With the wedding industry in a state of flux, the flow on effects from those and other cancelled events are also hurting accommodation businesses
Next door to Willow and Stone is the Mercure Hotel which receives flow on accommodation from weddings held nearby. It also runs itself as a reception and events centre.
"We haven't had a wedding since March," Owner Iain Gunn said.
"People are pushing them back as far as they can, deferring their date to celebrate with loved ones.
"Our catering business has had a few enquiries for weddings in the back half of the year but right now people are just pushing things back.
"We're hoping we get some clear air by end of September and fingers crossed from October to December we resemble some sort of normality."
Mr Gunn said the lack of business events had also contributed to a bleak four months.
"April and May was non-existent, June and July was starting to get some green chutes a little until restrictions hit again," he said.
"I've no doubt it will come back, it's just a matter of when and how.
"I'm hoping, expecting, praying by the end of September, Melburnians will be able to get out again and travel.
"We need the medical crisis resolved in Melbourne, as early as that happens it benefits everyone."
Mr Gunn said he hoped the corporate market would be able to return soon, suggesting there was much more than could be gained by running business events on site than through online meetings.
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