SINGAPORE - As soon as the Government announced that capacity limits at weddings would be doubled to 100 from Oct 3, bride-to-be Sheryl See whipped out her alternative guest list and started making telephone calls.
The 31-year-old said she was well-prepped for any sudden changes in plans, given the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic. She had even created four separate guest lists - for up to 20, 50, 80, and 100 people - to accommodate different scenarios for her wedding on Oct 18.
"We had always hoped that government regulations would change in time for us to invite more people, and it really worked out. We knew exactly who we wanted at our special day, so it was just a matter of informing them as soon as it was possible to include all of them," said the bride, whose guest list will now be almost 100.
Ms See, who helps to run her family's home appliances and furniture retail store, will be tying the knot with bank employee Eddy Ng, 30, at a hotel in Orchard.
They are among the many couples in Singapore who have asked venue operators to make last-minute changes to floor plans and guest lists for their weddings this month, now that it is possible to have up to 100 people at wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Wedding venue operators have also received more enquiries on bookings.
The new capacity limit, which includes the wedding couple but excludes vendors and service providers, is up from the previous cap of 50.
But attendees must be split into either multiple zones of up to 50 persons each, or split by staggered timings, with up to 50 persons in each time slot. At least 30 minutes should be allocated between the time slots for cleaning and disinfection of the event space.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had announced the changes at a virtual press conference last month, noting that some couples put off their wedding plans in the hope of riding out the pandemic and proceeding with their original plans for a large wedding reception.
"But the end of the pandemic is still some way off and indefinitely postponing a wedding may not be practical or desirable," he had said.
The Ministry of Health added that the relaxation of rules is aimed at facilitating marriages that may have been postponed or put on hold.
But the cap on solemnisations held in homes and the Registries of Civil and Muslim Marriages building remains unchanged at 10 people, excluding the solemniser.
Popular wedding venue operators, including Goodwood Park Hotel, Hotel Fort Canning, Grand Hyatt, and the Millennium Hotels and Resorts group, told The Straits Times that they received requests from couples about making changes to their wedding plans almost immediately after Mr Gan's announcement.
They have also received more enquiries about venue bookings in general, they said, signalling a potential boost in business.
Mr Lee Richards, Millennium Hotels and Resorts' vice-president of operations for South-east Asia, said: "The relaxation of measures is timely and positive for business. This win-win situation allows hotels to generate more business, while couples can share their special day with more family and friends."
A spokesman for Hotel Fort Canning said: "Following the easing of restrictions, there has been an increase of 25 per cent in the number of enquiries. We remain optimistic and foresee a rise in enquiries and confirmation of bookings."
Still, not all couples are rushing to have larger weddings.
Engineer Wesley Lum, 25, and property officer Joyce Sim, 24, who will be getting married at Upper Peirce Reservoir on Oct 10, decided to stick to their plan of having 40 guests.
Ms Sim said: "We are thinking about the safety of our friends and families too - it's probably best to keep the party as small as possible. If the Covid-19 situation gets better next year, we could have a large wedding anniversary dinner and celebrate with more people."
All that matters is that they can go ahead with their marriage plans, added Mr Lum. "The pandemic has proven that you never know what's going to happen, or when things will ever return to normal. We just want to be together and have our loved ones there with us," he said.