Rings at the ready, but COVID-19 ruins couple’s wedding plans … again

The rings, outfits and flowers were ready, but COVID-19 has again dashed the wedding plans of Templestowe couple Zoe Mior and Anthony Stagliano.

Zoe Mior and Anthony Stagliano with their eldest daughter Isla in 2018.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday banned weddings in metropolitan Melbourne, effective from Thursday.

Ms Mior, 29, and Mr Stagliano 36, have been left sad and disappointed, and don’t know when their nuptials will take place.

Having been together for 10 years, the couple wanted to take their vows in front of family and friends, including grandparents and great-grandparents.

Over the past six months, COVID-19 restrictions have progressively whittled away at their dreams, moving from plans for 150 relatives and friends to having 20 guests in a Queens Road chapel with a restaurant meal.

In the end their wedding, planned for Monday next week, was to be a simple ceremony for five people – including the celebrant, themselves, Ms Mior’s best friend and Mr Stagliano’s brother. They would have had to wear masks and their daughters, Isla, 3, and Harper, 1, could not have attended.

Ms Mior now vows to have a big party with their loved ones "once COVID is over, even if that meant in the next year or so".

She is philosophical.

"I just think there’s bigger things in the world to worry about. I know we’ll eventually get married. It’s not good but we can’t change it."

Their celebrant, David Schneider of registryweddings.com.au, has 25 weddings in the next three days – before the ban kicks in – at his private chapel in Queens Road opposite Albert Park Lake, up from six before Mr Andrews’ edict.

After Sunday’s announcement, 66 couples postponed their weddings with Mr Schneider.

He is seeking clarification on what would qualify as "compassionate reasons" – the only clause for exemption – but otherwise his calendar is bare for six weeks from Thursday.

Anthony Burke, the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants president, said the wedding ban was "devastating for couples and the wedding industry in the metro areas".

AFCC members "will be supporting their couples and their families during these difficult and uncertain times".

Melbourne celebrant Cherie Arrowsmith said last year she officiated at 25 weddings. This year she did four before the pandemic hit, "and then none".

Ms Arrowsmith, who operates under the name Eternal Connection, said celebrants had stopped advertising and promoting work "because it’s pointless. Because there’s no end to this, there’s no anticipated date.

"I was just building my business up. I was on a roll. And it was fabulous. It’s a job that I just love. The rug’s been pulled out from beneath the whole wedding industry."

But she has qualified for JobKeeper and says she is not complaining, "because there’s people worse off than me".

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