SINGAPORE: Ms Seow was supposed to get married on May 2, in a small ceremony probably at home. That was a step-down from the originally planned church wedding with 500 guests. 

However, even that is now up in the air, after the Government last week announced stricter safe-distancing measures, with most workplaces shut down from Apr 7 to May 4.

READ: COVID-19: Singapore makes ‘decisive move’ to close most workplaces and impose full home-based learning for schools, says PM Lee

Ms Seow said she was informed by the Registry of Marriages a day after the announcement that her solemnisation would have to be put on hold.

With no guarantee that the measures, meant to slow down local transmission, will not be extended, her marital status hangs in limbo.

“We are disappointed, but we understand that what the Government is doing is for the good,” said Ms Seow, who asked that her full name not be used. 

Others, like Ms Nur Izzati Anwar, managed to hold their weddings before the stricter measures were introduced. However, plans have had to be radically altered.

When the Ministry of Health released an advisory in early March that social events and gatherings including weddings should not have more than 250 guests, bride-to-be Ms Izzati tried to cancel a hotel dinner reception that was meant to have 1,000 guests.

However, she was only allowed to postpone it.

When the advisory became stricter with an advisory on Mar 24 restricting the maximum number of guests at a gathering to 10, Ms Izzati and her partner realised that their plans were going to have to be changed.

With her solemnisation and lunch and dinner reception events fixed for Apr 4, she and her partner decided to make a difficult decision – to bring forward their solemnisation with just a few people present.

READ: COVID-19 temporary measures: Gatherings outside of school and work limited to 10 people, entertainment venues to close

“Everybody was quite sad, but we wanted to bring it forward because it seemed like anything could happen in one week,” said the 28-year-old therapist.

There were only nine present at the small ceremony held at her now husband’s home, including their parents and a witness.

Also present was her friend, who used Facebook and Instagram to stream the ceremony live to family and friends who could only watch from afar.

She hopes to be able to continue with her hotel reception events when the conditions allow.

“We want to do something for our families still,” she said.

PROFESSIONAL LIVE-STREAMING SERVICES

While Ms Izzati roped in a friend to provide the live-streaming services, the industry has also been stepping up to provide alternative services for couples who want to go ahead with some kind of celebration amid the strict measures in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Wedding photographer Kanthan Jay introduced a professional live-streaming package.

READ: COVID-19 Budget: Government to announce legal measures involving paid deposits as soon-to-wed couples stuck in limbo

Armed with a two-camera set-up, and an encoding machine for better connection, Mr Kanthan and his partner held their first such live stream from a Hindu temple last month.

The couple opted for the service as the family of the bride, who is Malaysian, could not make it for the wedding due to travel restrictions between Malaysia and Singapore.

The bride’s parents had no objection to them carrying on with the wedding as planned, but because she did not want them to miss the event entirely, they wanted the service, he said.

“I told them it was going to be like a one-take wonder, and there was no time for blunders,” Mr Kanthan said.

Mr Kanthan said the challenge was making sure that the live stream was uninterrupted. Something different from normal was that the ceremony ended within an hour and a half, as so few people were there. Typically, guests queue up to take photographs with the couple and congratulate them, which would take an additional two to three hours, he said.

ENSURING STRICT PRECAUTIONS, DOWNSIZING

Another temple wedding that was live-streamed, but with a mobile phone, was Ms Vidhya Nair’s. While hers was held before the 10-person maximum advisory was released, she and her husband went to great lengths to drastically reduce the number of guests.

“We didn’t want to be another cluster. We had already thought of what the hashtag would look like if that happened,” she said. 

Mr Kenneth Chew and his partner got married on Mar 29, after downsizing their wedding to adhere to the advisory on having a gathering of up to 10 people.

Their lunch reception at a restaurant was to have more than 170 guests, but then, after the venue did not have a solution for him for a smaller event, Mr Chew moved quickly to book a condominium function room for his solemnisation and tea ceremonies.

Present were just the bride’s and groom’s families – but no bridesmaids and no groomsmen. While traditionally, the tea ceremony involves extended family as well, because of the restriction on numbers, they held it with just their parents.

Mr Chew said he hopes to be able to hold another ceremony with his extended family. With the time that was freed up from having a reception, the couple got to do a photo shoot around their childhood homes in Hougang and Tampines.

There may not have been as much of a fanfare as originally planned, but Mr Chew said it was still a happy affair.

“I am still happy and delighted to have married the love of my life,” he said.

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