Those taking place are much smaller events
By Mary Spyrou
After over a year of cancellations or at best hugely scaled-down affairs, the wedding sector remains a troubled industry despite recent relaxations in the number of guests allowed.
From June 10, weddings can be held with up to 250 people indoors and 350 people outdoors. Receptions and cocktail parties are only allowed outside with a capacity of 250 people at any time.
For many Cypriots, that number is simply not large enough and continued uncertainty that measures will change makes planning difficult. For the once lucrative foreign wedding business the number restrictions aren’t the problem, but travel uncertainties reign supreme.
However, wedding planner Vicki Squirrell of Paphos-based Tie the Knot said that she has 50 to 60 weddings booked for 2021, compared to their 100 a year they would organise prior to the pandemic. But most of her clients come from abroad including the UK, Israel, and Dubai.
“We are sure to lose some… people might postpone to the following year,” Squirrell said. “It’s extremely sad for not only the wedding industry but the tourism industry as well.”
She added that the company are desperate for Cyprus to be on the UK’s green travel list – a hope that was dashed once again on Thursday.
“We’re here, we’re waiting, we just want our couples to come to Cyprus. We can guarantee the sunshine, whereas the UK can’t.”
Those weddings the company are arranging are much smaller affairs with couples seeking to save money. They have booked “smaller elope weddings…where it’s just the couple and two witnesses” she said. Many weddings are also just the couple with Tie the Knot providing the two witnesses.
Katie Williams, owner of Paphos-based Marry Me Cy, said she had organised the company’s first wedding on June 12 and have about 100 weddings left.
Referring to the many wedding postponements due to the pandemic she said: “It’s disappointing, heart-breaking for the bride and soul-destroying for us as planners in Cyprus, as we are ready.”
Despite these change of plans, Williams noticed a general trend, that with fewer people, couples are spending more on “extravagant pre-wedding and post-wedding parties”.
Nicosia-based RSVP Events caters to both local and international clientele.
“But due to travel restrictions and uncertainty, this year we have mainly local clients or local nationals who live abroad,” said wedding planner Rania Michaelidou.
“Since the relaxations, interest has been on the rise for smaller events in 2021. People have missed getting together and celebrating small events but we are expecting postponements and some cancellations,” she said.
Andreas Andreou co-founder of My Special Event CY organises largely weddings for Cypriots. Pre-pandemic they handled around 30 weddings in the summer.
This year looks very different. “There is one in June, four in July and two in August,” he said. Weddings remain uncertain in 2021 with many postponed to 2022 and 2023.
“Despite the relaxations of measures people are still wary about a 2021 wedding,” Andreou explained.
“The main problem is there are no official announcements after September and couples are postponing their weddings to avoid last-minute cancellations.”
He was referring to last summer when capacity restrictions were placed on weddings and couples had to cut down on their wedding plans without much warning. All the uncertainty from 2020 has entered the 2021 wedding season.
“One more difficult year, I don’t know who will survive until next May.”
Perhaps the starkest example of the challenges facing the wedding sector can be found at the civil marriages office of Paphos municipality.
In the first two weeks of June in 2019 they had about 105 weddings. For the same period in 2020 there was just one. For the first half of June this year that number has risen to 15.