The Empire State decided to finally open itself up for "big" weddings, but if you think those nuptial celebrations are going to be the kind of fun you once knew, think again.
Weddings and catered events were allowed to resume statewide Monday with up to 150 guests, but with restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
According to wedding planners, these new rules from on high are spurring some couples to take their business to states with fewer restrictions, especially New Jersey, the New York Post reported.
What are the new rules?
Though Cuomo deigned to allow his citizens to celebrate their weddings with their friends and family beginning on the Ides of March, he implemented new rules on capacity, testing, masking, and social distancing that are causing event organizers to scratch their heads — and their clients to take their business across the Hudson River.
On top of the 50% capacity limit (up to 150 people), the state is now requiring anyone attending a wedding to provide proof of a negative COVID test with 72 hours of the event — or an antigen test within six hours, the Post said, citing state guidelines.
But New Jersey, which allows the same number of guests, has no testing requirements.
The Post talked to event planners in both states who noted that the Garden State is benefiting from the current rules.
"The testing is an issue," Max Janoff, a partner in the Crystal Palace in Livingston, New Jersey, told the Post, adding that he has been taking calls from New Yorkers who want to move their events since the day Cuomo's rules came out.
New York businessman Anthony Gerardi, who provides sound and music for wedding events in New York, told the paper that the testing requirement makes no sense.
"You don't get tested to walk into a Walmart, go to a restaurant or attend a Zumba class, so why do you need to get tested for a private event?" he asked.
And if you think the testing requirements are causing problems, check out the dancing rules.
Guests can dance only with members of their household or people seated at their table, the Post reported. On top of that, everyone wanting to cut a rug must stay in their own "zones" — a "designated and clearly marked" area for getting one's groove on — that is at least six feet from any other dancing zone.
Making sense of the socially distanced dancing rules is tricky for those tasked with putting the events together.
Mickey King, who owns a catering hall in Queens, told the Post, "I tried to explain the dancing rule and was told by one of my clients 'you're making that up.'"
"I guess I'll use masking tape," King added. "But how ugly is that going to look when I have to outline a box on a floor?"
Another anonymous venue operator was flummoxed: "How can we police whether table three and four are mingling? If they choose to dance together, who am I to stop their freedom of expression?"
Then there are the mask and contact tracing rules.
Masks are required at all time for all guests — unless they are both seated and eating or drinking.
And every guest is required to sign in at the wedding and provide contact information for tracing purposes.
Despite the many new rules, many couples are still going forward with their weddings and keeping them in New York — and they're eating the costs the regulations are imposing. For example, the Post noted, couples are offering to cover the costs of COVID tests — even going so far as hiring lab technicians to administer rapid tests as people arrive at a cost of up to $150 per test.