Altered wedding experience

Indran is prepared to hire extra personnel in addition to Rela personnel for better crowd control.

THE Covid-19 pandemic has affected many, even businesses in the events sector have not been spared.

Malaysian Indian Association of Event (MIAE) president Datuk Sivakumar Kuppusamy said event venue operators, bridal services and other related services were badly hit by restrictions under the movement control order imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

He said the recent lifting of the interstate travel ban was good news and they hoped that the

protocol for social gatherings, including weddings, could be reinstated as issued earlier by the National Security Council (MKN) in August.

“We are prepared to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOP), even if it means operating at half capacity, to help cover rental, utility bills and staff salaries, ” said Sivakumar.

“As much as we are concerned about the rising number of Covid-19 cases, we need to give attention to our livelihood that is badly affected as well.

“There are more than 500 companies and 20,000 workers in this sector and they need help, ” he said.

Under the conditional MCO, large gatherings such as wedding receptions, celebration dinners and prayer meetings are not allowed.

Association of Certified Wedding Planners vice-president Lee Hui Chin said given the situation, couples must decide on what they want.

“They have to weigh their options and see if they want to get married now or after the pandemic.”

She noted that some might feel that it was a waste to tie the knot now or even have wedding photo shoots or videos taken.

“Some couples may not want to carry on as the photos and videos cost a lot and will show them masked, with expressions hidden.

“They also may not want to take the risk for fear of Covid-19 infections and will postpone plans to a safer date, ” said Lee.

She said some couples who wanted their elderly relatives to attend their special day, might also defer plans to accommodate them.

“In Asian culture, family presence, especially that of older relatives, is considered especially meaningful to a couple’s union, ” she added.

Wedding planner Jim Tay pointed out that based on guidelines set by MKN, marriage ceremonies for Muslims and non-Muslims could still take place but with a set number of people, which was no more than 30 people for now.

Tay said about 40% of his clients had taken advantage of this ruling to proceed with their wedding.

“Many got married during the recovery MCO in August and September, ” he said, adding that the events were conducted on a smaller scale.

“There are many ways to make a marriage ceremony special.

“Even those held on a modest scale can be made meaningful, depending on the creativity of the wedding planner, ” explained Tay.

Wedding planner Jovita Lo said the pandemic had led to many couples evaluating their priorities.

“A wedding does not have to be grand but can be made memorable even without the crowd or usual trimmings.

“Now that interstate travel is allowed and more than three people can be in a car, this should be no problem, ” she said.

She pointed out that the marriage registration could be an occasion on its own.

“Decorative touches like flowers and thematic settings can set the mood for a meaningful official ceremony or even tea ceremony with the bride and groom’s parents and close relatives present, ” she added.

Due to the pandemic, live webcasts are trending and this is ideal for couples who do not want to leave any of their friends or relatives out of their big day.

Lo said couples who chose this option for their guests’ safety had stronger reason to look their best and ensure their surroundings were decorated to suit the occasion.

Bridal make-up artist Aishu Ash Krishnan and Muhamad Rushdi Mohamad Mokhtar, who runs an online job matching service for freelance photographers, said brides could still choose to look their best and couples could record the moment when they take their marriage vows during the pandemic.

“I make sure all my make-up brushes are washed and sanitised after use every time, ” said Aishu.

“I use disposable sponges and I ensure there is no crowd when making up the bride.

“Only the bride and I are in the room, unlike before where relatives and friends crowd in. This is to curb infections, ” she said, adding that make-up artists must protect themselves by donning face shields, masks and gloves.

To ensure safety, Muhamad Rushdi said he advised photographers to decline requests from guests to help take pictures with individual handphones at events.

“Handphones may have bacteria and are not safe to touch.

“The photographer must also ensure that he observes physical distancing.

“Stay away from the crowd while doing your work, ” he reminded.

For caterer Alan Yap, who has 30 years of experience in this field, the pandemic has changed the way he operates.

“At most events now, the food is pre-packed or waiters in masks and gloves serve the guests who must also wear masks.

“Self-service is not allowed.

“I even deliver food to guests who are unable to attend an event, ” he said.

Indran Thangarasu, who runs an events venue, said he was prepared to hire extra personnel in addition to Rela personnel for better crowd control.

“I make sure all adhere to physical distancing and comply with the SOP, like registering their details, donning masks and have their temperature checked.

“The focus will be on the ceremony. There will be no dancing or entertainment until these restrictions are lifted.

“The client is briefed on all this and made to sign an agreement with the organiser, ” said Indran.

Another events hall operator, Rajan Raman said that under the new norm, tables were placed two metres apart and chairs spaced out.

Two couples StarMetro spoke to said they decided to have their wedding ceremonies despite the uncertainties and restrictions during the MCO, but with safety measures in place.

Veshalini Omprakasarao and Gaajhenra Rao said they had set their wedding date in March next year following advice from an astrologer.

“However, we decided to have the engagement ceremony, registration and photo shoot this year.

“The engagement was in March, before the MCO was imposed.

“Gaajhenra is based in Perak and I am in Kuala Lumpur, so interstate travel restrictions affected some of the plans.

“We only had the wedding photo shoot after travel restrictions were lifted in June and the registration ceremony on Sept 2, before the conditional MCO was reimposed on Oct 14, ” she said.

Although legally married, the couple will only begin life together after their traditional wedding ceremony in March.

“If there are no restrictions by then, we will have the ceremony and dinner at a hall in Hutan Melintang, Perak, or else a small ceremony at a temple with close family members present, ” said Veshalini.

For Mohd Shukri Mohd Yassin and fiancee Ain Syafieqa Bakhtiar, it will not matter if they cannot proceed with their wedding dinner on Dec 26.

“We planned on having 1,000 guests but now, we can use the money to buy necessary items for our house, like electrical appliances.

“We will go on with the akad nikah if the Islamic Religious Department permits it.

“If interstate travel is still allowed then, we plan to honeymoon in Langkawi, ” said Mohd Shukri.

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