‘Enough is enough:’ Event planners say it’s time to allow receptions


SAN DIEGO — The California Association for Private Events is calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to give the industry guidance when it comes to reopening.

“Baby showers, Quinceañeras — you can’t redo these moments and what’s happened is the state’s been extremely hypocritical in what they are allowing to reopen,” CAPE president and small business owner Amy Ulkutekin said.

Group members marched to the State Capitol building in October after more than seven months of discussions with state leaders and the health department. CAPE outlined guidelines for what they call a safe reopening but Ulkutekin said the state is not being helpful.

“Sorry, we’re not going to allow you to reopen,” Ulkutekin said of the response she’s gotten. “However, you can go to a dinner with 200 people you don’t know and do the exact same thing that is essentially a reception. But, no, you wanna call it a reception? That’s not allowed. We will not allow that.”

Under current guidelines, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other cultural ceremonies can be held at 25% capacity indoors but receptions are still banned regardless of tier status. Ulkutekin and other event coordinators argue if ballparks and amusement parks can reopen as soon as April 1, they should be able to plan private events as well.

“We’re not going to the state asking for a dance party for 200 people right now. We understand that there needs to be a tiered and measured approach to the reopening effort,” Ulkutekin said. “Enough is enough! I mean that really sent our industry into a tailspin. People can’t wait. If you can go to a Major League Baseball game or you can go sit in a suite at a stadium, you can definitely sit down like a restaurant that’s open right now and have a restaurant-style reception.”

Meanwhile, sought-after wedding venue The Fairmont Grand Del Mar found a creative way to survive the shutdowns.

“We’ve followed the rules. We’ve been very, very good. We haven’t had any gatherings and we won’t until we’re allowed to,” General Manager Michael O’Donohue said.

Instead, they’ve created a socially-distant celebration.

“Guests can be up on their balconies toasting champagne and eating wedding cake while the couple shares their special moment right in the courtyard below,” O’Donohue said.

Bride Morgan Young said wedding planning during a pandemic has been stressful but she understands that the entire industry is doing the best they can.

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