WNY couples and business owners demand guidelines for weddings from the state

Posted at 11:46 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 11:17:01-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For one Buffalo couple, Western New York nearing Phase Four meant their wedding day could feel a little more normal. After guidelines were released earlier this week, Sydney Hohl and Tony Mastrangelo said they were not only disappointed but confused why wedding venues were not included.

“When things change on a daily basis, it makes it really hard to plan the biggest day of your life,” Mastrangelo said. Hohl added: “And they’re not changing for the better.”

It’s five weeks until the couple walks down the aisle on August 1st.

“This is going to be the best day of our lives and coronavirus is not going to stop our wedding,” Mastrangelo said.

They said the weeks leading up to their wedding have been nothing short of a nightmare. From travel restrictions to capacity issues, there is a new problem seemingly every day.

“That moment, I can’t have it taken away from me. I can’t,” Mastrangelo said.

The couple agreed, they do not understand how establishments like bars and restaurants can reopen at half capacity, but not wedding venues. They continue to turn to local and state leaders for answers.

“I think the frustrating part is we have five weeks but who knows what’s going to happen in that five weeks, but we can’t wait until the week before to say okay here’s our new plan,” Hohl said.

“What was is no longer what is, and we’re hoping we can get a voice,” Laurie Clark, owner of Avanti Mansion, said. The event venue is where Mastrangelo and Hohl will exchange vows.

The wedding venue's usual busy summer wedding season now sees an empty parking lot as the space remains closed Friday.

“The guidelines are extremely limited and extremely vague. And here we are in Phase Four and there’s no end in sight for us,” Clark said.

According to reopening guidelines, Phase Four allows non-essential gatherings to grow from 25 to 50 people. The Governor’s Office said it’s working on “additional guidance” for events like weddings.

Clark argued event venues are asked to follow the same health and safety guidelines as restaurants and bars, but questioned why the guidelines changed when it comes to reopening. Many bars and restaurants have successfully reopened for both inside and outside dining by operating at 50% capacity. To Clark’s knowledge, weddings can only have 50 people wherever it may take place.

“If we’re held to the same standards that restaurants and bars are we want an equal opportunity to operate," Clark said.

Aside from constantly cleaning and disinfecting, Clark said event venues can social distance and contact trace even better than restaurants and bars due to a guest list and seating chart.

Clark wants not only answers from the state, but reopening guidelines to follow. She also wants a chance to calm any concerns lawmakers may have, but until then, she said her heart goes out to couples like Mastrangelo and Hohl.

“We do understand what they are going through and we feel for them and want them to know we are advocating for them and we are fighting for them,” Clark said.