WINNIPEG -- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, large group gatherings, such as weddings, funerals, and religious services, had to be postponed or cancelled.

But, on Wednesday the Manitoba government announced it will be increasing the size of group gatherings beginning on Friday. This means indoor gatherings can have up to 25 people, and outdoor ones up to 50.

The information was also present in the draft plan for the second phase of reopening Manitoba's economy, released Thursday morning by Premier Brian Pallister. It can be read below.

Amanda Douglas, owner of Amanda Douglas events, said the decision will benefit couples planning smaller weddings.

“I know vendors as a whole in our community are really trying to work with couples that might want to have a micro wedding, or mini wedding, or elopement, or intimate wedding," she said. "We’re all trying to work with what our couples want and be safe for them, for ourselves, and create a safe work environment as well."

Douglas noted a lot of couples have postponed their events throughout the summer. She said many have postponed until August, while some are still waiting to see what the government does.

“I do feel a lot of the couples that were planning 100 to 300 person weddings will likely still continue in the path of postponing to next year," she said.

Marla Paul-Merasty, a marriage commissioner for the Province of Manitoba, said the changes are “huge” for the wedding industry.

“Within an hour (of the announcement) I had an email already, and so people are making sure that I would still be available,” she said.

Wedding commissioner

(Marla Paul-Merasty, supplied photo)

Paul-Merasty said she’s lost about 30 per cent of her business during the pandemic, and that going forward, physical distancing will be one of the biggest changes at weddings and large events.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of weddings now that are just going to be backyard weddings with close friends and family,” she said.

Douglas recommends that if any couples are worried or wondering what they should do now, they should reach out to their wedding planner and vendors to make plans.


The province also announced on Thursday that, as part of the second phase of its reopening plan, it will allow religious organizations to hold outdoor events with an unlimited number of people.

Those attending must stay in their vehicles or outside on the left side of their vehicles. They also must stay two metres apart from others at all times.

Rabbi Matthew Leibl, of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, said in a statement that it feels like the synagogue is getting closer to resuming regular operations, but this is just the first step of many more to come.

Drive-in style services might also not be entirely useful for synagogues, as some Jewish people do not drive on the Sabbath due to tradition based in the Torah, he said.