ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s ban on mass gatherings isn’t stopping people from getting married in front of friends and family. Wedding planners and companies said most couples are postponing or eloping to comply with state guidelines, but people in the industry said they are still hearing of some couples finding creative ways to get around the rules.

“Basically, they got married at a church. So, they’re kind of following all the guidelines, all the restrictions, everything that’s in place to have it legally, but hosting it at a church and then they did it at a local restaurant on the patio,” Shauna Pointer, founder of Wedding Collective New Mexico, said.

By having a ceremony at a church, which can hold indoor services or ‘other functions’ at 40% capacity, a couple may be able to have a hundred people at their wedding. Similarly, holding a reception or dinner on a restaurant patio at limited capacity can lead to more than 10 people.

“So, I definitely think with a little creativity they can have a wedding like that. However, it is kind of hurting a lot of the other local businesses that haven’t been able to have weddings like that because how their businesses are classified,” Pointer said. “We have a lot of small private venues that are hurting and so, they haven’t been able to open up at all unless it’s kind of an intimate elopement.”

With many venues closed, it’s also leading to people having off-the-grid weddings.

“I’ve seen lots of photos and stuff where everybody might go out into the desert, into the mesa, and spread out 6 feet apart in their little family clump and be able to just kind of off the beaten path, get married there,” Pointer said.

For larger weddings, Pointer said she’s seen some turn to vacation rentals or private residences. Viewers have sent complaints of weddings like this to KRQE News 13. It can put businesses who are trying to survive the pandemic in a tough spot.

“We have taken a 90% loss in our business. And I am trying to do whatever I can to stay afloat and it’s been a struggle,” a local caterer, who wanted to stay anonymous, said.

She said she’s catered about five weddings throughout the pandemic. She said even though the weddings were more than the mass gathering ban allowed with about 30 people, she felt like her company and the couples took the appropriate steps to stay safe like having people wear masks, taking temperatures, and having outdoor ceremonies.

Pointer said she, along with other companies in the wedding industry, is looking to work with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to see if weddings can happen safely with guidelines like wearing masks and no dancing.

KRQE News 13 reached out to state police to see how many people have reported large weddings, but state police said it does not track specific types of mass gathering complaints. It said it did not receive complaints on two alleged large weddings, viewers sent in.

In a Thursday press conference, Gov. Lujan Grisham briefly addressed large weddings in backyards calling them a ‘significant problem.’

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