TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Shawnee County event venue owners and future newlyweds now have the peace of mind to start planning weddings, after the Shawnee County Health Department issued a new local health order that went into effect Saturday.
The order increased the maximum mass gathering limit, allowing 500 participants or 75% capacity for indoor events and 1,000 participants for outdoor events. To local venue owners, this ease of restrictions came as a blessing.
“A lot of dates have already been booked and people are ready to get on with it for 2021 and 2022,” said Jim Allan, owner and founder of Rose Wood Event Venue.
Among those excited are future brides engaged during the time of the pandemic.
“Venues weren’t accepting tours and you couldn’t even go try on bridal dresses,” said Tanya Simpson, who became engaged in August of 2020. “That kind of made it really challenging and kind of scary of not knowing what you’re going to be doing.”
Rose Wood is where Simpson will hold her wedding in May, but the day has not come easily.
“We’re still kind of preparing just in case, so we’ve got some precautions that we’re setting to the side and we’re just kind of taking it day-by-day and then we’re going to see where we are at come the day of the wedding,” Simpson said.
Rose Wood had many events canceled or rescheduled last year, according to Allan.
“For the most part, we were really shut down,” Allan said. “We might have done an event every-other month, just very small events, but nothing like doing big weddings.”
Although people can have more guests in attendance at events, The Vinewood is only allowing half of their capacity at events.
“The emphasis has always been the same, and it’s for community. For community to gather, whether it’s for a special event, for a wedding, for a dance and a band,” said Kerrice Mapes, marketing coordinator of the venue. “People are the key component and so, it’s so important to us that everybody is healthy and safe.”
These venues, and the people behind the events, hope everyone does stay safe and healthy, so they can have their special day.
“I’m feeling good. I’m excited, so I’m ready for it to be here,” Simpson said about her wedding. “It’s just almost two months away, and so it’s counting down to that crunch time, so it’s getting a bit of that hectic time coming in but it’s also exciting at the same time.”
Although health leaders increased the gathering limits, they also asked people to adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing to ensure it is safe.