'A huge step forward': hoteliers welcome increase on wedding guest numbers, but say cautious approach still needed

'A huge step forward': hoteliers welcome increase on wedding guest numbers, but say cautious approach still needed

The Government announced yesterday that with effect from Thursday, August 5, the maximum number of guests permitted to attend a wedding will increase from 50 to 100. 

Hoteliers and wedding organisers in Cork have welcomed the decision by Government to allow 100 guests at weddings from August 5.

The Government decided on Tuesday that, with effect from Thursday, August 5, the maximum number of guests permitted to attend a wedding will increase from 50 to 100. 

Baptism services may also proceed but must follow all protective measures and social gatherings afterward should be avoided.

Michael Magner, owner Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Michael Magner, owner Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Owner of Vienna Woods Michael Magner, who is also a member of the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) board, said that the decision to increase wedding guests was “a huge step forward” but that further detail was required in relation to live music.

“The next thing now is we need to try to restore some bit of normality is the live music. If we could get the bands back it would be great and I think that would satisfy the majority of couples that they’ve got a potential guest list of 100 with the bit of live music, it would make all the difference.

Cautious approach

Mr Magner said that the hotel still has to be cautious, listen to the guidelines and respect health advice, not just for the health and safety of guests but also for those on the hotel’s 139-strong team who are yet to be fully vaccinated, with about 71 weddings planned between August and December 31.

Barry Looney of The West Cork Hotel.
Barry Looney of The West Cork Hotel.

General Manager of The West Cork Hotel Barry Looney echoed Mr Magner’s comments in relation to protecting unvaccinated staff going forward.

He said that if it can be done safely, he is very happy with the decision and that a smaller increase in the number of guests allowed is “probably better” as the hotel is very cognitive that it must be safe to protect staff.

“The hospitality industry and we here have new staff just now. They’re young and unvaccinated. There does seem to be a little bit more worry about this Delta variant as opposed to other variants so it’s important that it will be done safely,” he said.

'Huge difference' for hotels

He said that the decision will not just make a huge difference to couples for whom planning a wedding has been very difficult, but for hotels too.

“When we’re doing weddings for 25 and 50 there’s obviously less revenue on food and drink and there are less bedrooms, people aren’t staying because they’re not attending the function.

“With weddings, there is an economy of scale in that there’s as much work in a wedding for 50 as 100, the same work goes in the setup and the detail that’s involved,” he said.

Sales and Marketing Manager of Westlodge Hotel in Bantry Norma McCarthy said that the clarity offered on Tuesday in relation to guest numbers was needed as “the lead up to a wedding is stressful enough”.

“All the hotels and venues usually use pretty big ballrooms and there are strict protocols in place so they’re really safe environments for people,” she said.

She said that the hotel is receiving a huge amount of enquiries with people looking for guidance in relation to music but that they can only offer the information available to them at the time.

“The news, however, is really welcome and we now know what’s happening,” she said.

'Light at the end of the tunnel'

Founder and CEO of WeddingDates Ciara Crossan said the news is “hugely welcome by every single person connected to the wedding industry”.

She said that stress levels have been “through the roof” for couples trying to plan their wedding and that staff in hotels who are already under pressure with reopening have been dealing with an influx of calls from stressed and worried couples.

“I’ve been saying all along throughout the Covid pandemic that I was concerned about the impact on people‘s mental health. Staff of hotels, small independent wedding suppliers who rely on weddings for their income and of course the couples themselves have been put through the wringer and I’m so pleased that we finally have some definitive light at the end of the tunnel.

“For my business WeddingDates.ie it signifies the road to recovery. After what has been the most challenging 18 months in the 13-year history of my business I’m finally starting to breathe a sigh of relief,” she said.

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