OREGON, USA — Wedding vendors and venues in Oregon and Washington face new challenges as pandemic restrictions loosen.
Following the CDC's new guidance that vaccinated people can be unmasked for many indoor and outdoor gatherings, both states are taking things at their own pace.
Washington governor Jay Inslee announced the state would follow the CDC guidance effective immediately.
Oregon governor Kate Brown said Oregon would do the same, but the state's mask mandate remains in place as of Sunday. She said Oregon Health Authority is working on an update, but the state told KGW Saturday it did not know when that would happen.
Masking is just one of the factors engaged couples have had to juggle while planning their big day.
"[Weddings are] a bit of the Wild West," said Portland-based wedding coordinator Elisabeth Kramer.
Kramer's blog has chronicled Oregon's ongoing policy changes throughout the pandemic. She said since the state does not have many specific rules covering weddings during COVID, many planned events are up for interpretation.
The mask and vaccination issues create further confusion.
"We're in a holding pattern like most of the state," Kramer said. "[Couples are asking] 'How do I talk about vaccination status with someone whom I'm engaging in a business relationship with?'...A lot of vendors are even posting their vaccination status on their website...it has become a way to market yourself."
In Washington, Gov. Inslee said during a news conference that businesses should vet people for vaccination status, since the state would not have a structured system to do so.
That's the plan for The Foundry, a venue in Seattle.
"At any point of the evening, we as a business, can ask them to show proof of their vaccination card," said director of operations Sam Benton. "There's no more social distancing. If you are vaccinated, then you don't have to wear a mask. If you're unvaccinated, then you still have to wear a mask unless you're eating or drinking."
Oregon leadership said a similar type of screening system may be the model for local businesses down the line, too.
Kramer said if that's the case, businesses need immediate state guidance to know how to document vaccination status of both guests and vendors.
"Weddings are a place to celebrate joy," she said. "It's much easier to feel joy if you also feel safe."
Kramer's free newsletter keeps people updated on policy changes that impact weddings. She plans to update it for subscribers as soon as Oregon Health Authority releases a new mask guidance.