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Virginia Wedding Venue Sues Gov. Northam Over Gathering Restrictions

Published Friday, Mar. 26th, 2021

Cover image featuring venue owners Isabelle & Jordan Russell, via the Belle Garden Estate website.



A wedding venue in Virginia filed a lawsuit against the state’s Gov. Northam earlier this month, in response to an executive order that strictly limits wedding sizes. The lawsuit is scheduled to be decided this week. 


The plaintiffs, Belle Garden Estate, have argued that regulating wedding venues as private in-person gatherings, rather than amusement and entertainment businesses, is discriminatory and damaging. 


The regulations for amusement and entertainment businesses in Virginia during Covid allow for much larger groups -- up to 30% occupancy, or 250 people indoors and 1,000 people outdoors -- than the cap on weddings, which are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.


This week, on March 23, the restrictions loosened somewhat, allowing 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors during ceremonies, but venues like Belle Garden Estate still face stricter guidelines than other, similar businesses. 



Read the full scoop in Cortney Moore’s article for Fox News. 








Wedding officiants and other vendors have felt neglected and overlooked by state and local governments for most of the pandemic. 


Throughout the Covid pandemic, wedding professionals across the country have felt that their needs are being overlooked by state and local government.


A primary complaint from vendors has been the lack of industry-specific guidance and financial assistance that was offered to similar businesses --  specifically the safety guidelines and grants that were quickly created to salvage struggling restaurants, bars, theaters, and concert halls.


And vendors argue that because weddings and receptions have been classified as private gatherings, they face stricter limits on size than do similar businesses. 


The wedding industry has combated these limitations with incredible creativity over the past year, but their concerns continue:






Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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