DC ban on dancing at weddings sends couples and venues scrambling

May is peak wedding season in D.C. but a new coronavirus order released by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser makes it hard for the happy couple to celebrate. As of May 1, dancing is not allowed at any wedding in the District.

Under the new order released last week, the city will permit venues to host events, such as a  wedding at 25% capacity or up to 250 people maximum. But attendees must “remain seated” and “standing and dancing receptions are not allowed.”

The mayor said at a news conference Wednesday that she is following the guidance of D.C. public health officials. But the backlash is growing from venues, wedding planners and, most importantly, brides and grooms.

“You might look at this differently. You might say that for 14 months, we haven’t been able to host weddings at our venues, our hotels, and now we can. So I think people will book here, and I am very hopeful about that,” Bowser said.

But Stephanie Sadowski, a wedding planner and owner of SRS Events, said many couples are rescheduling or moving their nuptials out of D.C.

“It’s been a really crazy time over this past week. I am personally shifting weddings and moving them into Virginia and Maryland, where dancing is allowed and standing is allowed,” Sadowski said.

She said the couples she works with, especially those who had to reschedule their 2020 weddings, are frustrated. But they aren’t the only ones, venues that are seeing cancellations also express frustration at losing the first real business in over a year.

City Winery has been completely closed since the pandemic and just opened up for wedding season this month. They have already seen weddings canceled this month.

“There are all kind of crazy rules that are being instituted and some make sense and some don’t make sense,” City Winery owner Michael Dorf said. “The way we’re approaching it, is if every one is vaccinated or has a negative test result, Dr. (Anthony) Fauci believes it’s safe to have some social gathering with some distancing and safety.”

Speaking to last week’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated outside mask guidance, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told WTOP that there are a lot of indoor activities that fully vaccinated people can confidently resume as long as they also wear masks, such as going to a barbershop, riding public transport with capacity limits or going to the movies.

Dorf said that enforcing the dancing ban falls on the venues, and it would be a tall order.

“How do you tell the 80-year-old grandma and grandpa of the bride when they hear some klezmer music and they start moving their big ol’ tushies because they are dancing? Is it really up to the venue to tell them to sit down. These things are very challenging,” Dorf said.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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