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May 3, 2021 -- As Washington, DC, begins its next phase of reopening, one rule has prompted couples to look elsewhere for wedding venues: Dancing is banned at indoor and outdoor receptions.

Under an executive order that went into effect on Saturday, facilities and venues can now host weddings of up to 250 people. But those who go must remain seated and socially distanced. Standing and dancing at receptions aren’t allowed, and that includes cocktail hours.

“There’s hardly been any time to react, rather than being incredibly frustrated and angry,” Stephanie Sadowski, a wedding planner and founder of SRS Events, told WUSA9.

About a month ago, the mayor’s office said the pandemic restrictions on weddings would be adjusted as needed, the news station reported. Last week’s update surprised couples and event planners alike. Now some people are scrambling to move their weddings to Maryland or Virginia to find looser restrictions.

Sadowski, for instance, has four June weddings planned in DC, and now she’s trying to move all of them. Couples with fall weddings are also asking her what to do.

“I cannot even believe we’re in 2021 right now, and we are saying no dancing,” she said. “Why can’t we just have masks?”

The executive order covers a variety of new provisions under phase two of reopening in DC, including restrictions on retail businesses, restaurants, bars, gyms, child care facilities, colleges, movie theaters, and live entertainment venues.

In most cases, capacity is raised from 25% to 50%, or up to about 250 people. Restaurants can begin to have live music outdoors, but customers must remain seated and served at their tables. Live entertainment venues can host plays, concerts, and other performances, as long as attendees remain seated and stick with their own household members.

Multipurpose facilities and venues can host regional business meetings, conventions, weddings, and other special events of up to 250 people. Those who attend are required to remain seated and socially distanced, and if dining is included, facilities must follow the rules for licensed food establishments.

The executive order is in effect until May 20 unless the mayor’s office issues another update. Anyone who violates the order can be fined, and venues can have their business licenses suspended or revoked.

“We’re used to wearing masks at this point, we’ve been doing this since March,” Jillian Hartig, who plans to get married in DC in July, told FOX 5 DC. She hopes the restrictions will change by then.

“Why not allow dancing, but make masks a requirement, or even requiring a negative COVID test for wedding guests or provide your vaccination card,” she said.

Show Sources


Government of the District of Columbia: “Mayor’s Order 2021-060, Modified Measures in Phase Two of Washington, DC Reopening.”

WUSA9: “DC has banned dancing at indoor and outdoor wedding receptions.”

FOX 5 DC: “New restriction at DC weddings is turning brides and grooms away.”

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