Wedding venue owners prepare for business increase under new capacity limit rules

People who run wedding venues are getting a boost in business now that Gov. Phil Murphy increased capacity limits for ceremonies and receptions.
“I had even some of my past brides that texted me and said, ‘Are you excited? Do you see this in the screenshot of the governor’s announcement?’” says Paula Lara, event specialist at Collingswood Grand Ballroom.
Under Murphy’s new rules, wedding venues can have capacity limits of 35% or 150 people, whichever is lower. For a large venue like the Collingswood Grand Ballroom, that means using every space.
“We are at 150, so we’re happy about that because we can easily socially distance 150 people,” Lara says. “If anybody is uncomfortable or still feels a certain kind of way, we can put them upstairs to feel a little bit more comfortable. It’s very open, so you can still feel like you’re a part of the party.”
During the pandemic, the venue has had to either postpone or move events outside. Some couples chose to cancel the event altogether.
“It’s been rough. It’s been a struggle. We are limping along,” Lara says.
The venue now has 30 weddings scheduled for the year.
But while the capacity limits have been increased, the state still has the same restrictions in place for the events, which include no dance floor and mandatory mask wearing.
“You don’t know if people are going to abide by restrictions or not. That kind of thing always puts a question in your mind; how are people going to be?” says Lara.
The first wedding will take place next weekend. Many late-winter and early-spring couples are holding out hope for their events.
“They are holding strong. They kept on saying, ‘Other places are loosening. We’re going to wait, we’re going to wait’…so all the ones that are coming up right now are ready to go,” Lara says.
The Collingswood Grand Ballroom owners say that they also usually host about 12-15 proms each year. It is still not clear if proms will be allowed. The venue says that some schools have reached out to hold proms outdoors.