No masks, no distance: Pandemic wedding horrors for vendors

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FILE - People wearing face masks pass by newlyweds kissing as they posing for wedding photos at the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing on July 2, 2020. Now that weddings have slowly cranked up under a patchwork of ever-shifting restrictions, horror stories from vendors are rolling in. Many are desperate to work after the coronavirus put an abrupt end to their incomes and feel compelled to put on their masks, grab their cameras and hope for the best. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

NEW YORK – Wedding planners, photographers and other bridal vendors who make the magic happen have a heap of new worries in the middle of the pandemic: no-mask weddings, rising guest counts and venues not following the rules.

Now that weddings have slowly cranked up under a patchwork of ever-shifting state and local restrictions, horror stories from vendors are rolling in. Many are desperate to work after the coronavirus put an abrupt end to their incomes and feel compelled to put on their masks, grab their cameras and hope for the best.

No-mask weddings, no social distancing and dance floors prohibited in many states have been the talk of online groups for vendors around the country.

“People have worked in venues outright looking the other way on masks and size," said photographer Susan Stripling in New York.

Reports of COVID-19 outbreaks traced to weddings remain rare. One wedding was shut down by local officials at a San Francisco church; the nearly 100 guests had been instructed by the bridal couple to avoid the public entrance and go in through an underground parking garage instead.

Photographer Cherie Schrader in Chicago said she felt deceived when she showed up for a July wedding with 165 unmasked people indoors after being assured all safety precautions would be taken.

There was no social distancing. The crowd mingled at a happy hour and the dance floor was lively.

“I was told by the bride that it was an indoor-outdoor venue, but it was 95 degrees and they never opened the doors,” she said. “The tables were, at the most, 3 feet apart," she said, noting masks should have been required at all times under those conditions.