Within the midst of an emergency, wedding ceremony venues provide alcohol-free celebrations

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In emergencies, wedding venues offer alcohol-free celebrations: The Asahi Shimbun

It looked like a typical wedding reception as about 90 guests raised their glasses as the 36-year-old groom’s labor inspector toasted a toast.

However, at the wedding, which took place in the early afternoon of April 29 in Happo-en in Tokyo’s Minato district, glasses were filled with non-alcoholic champagne.

The venue first prepared to serve the traditional beer, sake, wine, and other drinks that wedding guests usually drink.

But after the 17-day state of emergency was imposed in Tokyo and three other prefectures on April 25, wedding venues in the capital were asked to stop serving and close their doors until 8 p.m.

The newly married couple decided, at the suggestion of the operator of the venue, to switch all drinks to non-alcoholic versions.

The bride and groom set their wedding date last summer and expected the pandemic to be under control by spring 2021.

“We selected the drinks ourselves and paid attention to how well they go with the meal. So we thought about offering non-alcoholic drinks that would also go with the menu, ”says the 31-year-old bride.

Alcohol-free wedding celebrations are becoming the new norm as many venues struggle to survive the new coronavirus pandemic and force their operators to adapt.

The measure aims to meet requests to stop drinking alcohol in areas where a state of emergency or pre-emergency measures are imposed.

While soft drinks are well received by guests, members of the wedding industry say they are trying hard to find ways to keep their business going.

At the ceremony on April 29th at Happo-en, tThe operator provided the best possible service in the unexpected circumstances. In addition to the preparation of special non-alcoholic cocktails with syrups in their theme colors, non-alcoholic sake and other drinks were also ordered.

The operator received positive feedback from guests who said they had the opportunity to try a wide variety of drinks, even though some of them didn’t like alcohol.

“Without the coronavirus pandemic, this wedding ceremony would not have been possible. It became a unique ceremony that will remain unforgettable,” said the groom.

According to Happo-en, between 29.

Of these, around 10 percent postponed their appointments. However, the rest decided to take thorough infection prevention measures and serve soft drinks to hold their wedding banquets as planned.

Happo-en has implemented a party schedule to offer an enriched selection of soft drinks. Employees are busy securing drinks, placing bulk orders at liquor stores, and buying additional drinks from supermarkets to make up for bottlenecks.

ESTIMATED LOSS OF 1 TRILLION YEN

Members of the wedding industry are trying their best to organize wedding banquets as they face financial hardship in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Bridal Institutional Association, the market is 1.4 trillion yen ($ 12.8 billion) annually, including the cost of banquets.

It estimates the industry’s sales were around 450 billion yen in March 2021, and lost nearly 1 trillion yen.

At an average cost of around 3.6 million yen for a wedding ceremony and banquet, at least 200,000 couples have been forced to postpone their wedding or suffer other setbacks, according to the association.

The industry was particularly hard hit in May of last year when the first state of emergency was declared nationwide. Sales were down about 98 percent year-over-year, with an estimated decrease of about 129 billion yen.

The association added that the industry lost about 42 billion yen between January and March this year when the second state of emergency went into effect in Tokyo, Osaka and other prefectures.

Officials from Tokyo and other prefectures also urged wedding venues to stop karaoke machines and close their stores at 8 p.m. to avoid the 3Cs (limited and crowded spaces and close contact with others). They also made other requests, including requests to end wedding events within 90 minutes and limit the number of guests to 50 or the total number of attendees to up to 50 percent of a venue’s capacity.

Industry members share a strong sense of crisis.

Before the recent emergency was declared, industry officials visited the prime minister’s office on April 23 to urge the government not to ban wedding ceremonies.

“We all now want to find a partner with whom we can build a strong bond,” said famous bridal designer Yumi Katsura, who also attended the meeting. “We will rack our brains to find ways to prevent coronavirus infections, even in humble ceremonies.”