'I'm on cloud nine': Couples, wedding venues rejoice with eased restrictions in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Kelly Gardner was ecstatic when she found out Governor Cooper had lifted restrictions on indoor events this week.

She plans on getting married in Hillsborough in two weeks.

"Our wedding ends at 10 p.m. and trying to get people home by the curfew or back to the hotel -- it was stressing me out whether my wedding was going to be cut short or are we not going to be able to enjoy it," Kelly said.

Indoor events will soon be able to operate at 30% capacity or a max of 250 people. The overnight curfew was also lifted along with the alcohol curfew which, according to experts, allows events to go to a more normal time.

The new mandate also means guests sitting at the same table don't have to come from the same household.

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The new order will also allow some indoor businesses to open at 30% capacity with a cap of 250 people. These businesses include bars and taverns, indoor amusement parks, movie theaters, indoor sports arenas and others.

"Getting this news where we can be at 30% or the lesser of 250 is great because my 30% is 224," said Nicole Clayton, owner of the Cloth Mill, a former textile mill that she took over in 2015.

The capacity inside is more than 700, which under the eased mandates means she can hold more than 200 guests in safely.

All but 10 of the 50 weddings planned for 2020 at the location didn't happen.

Wedding photographer Kate Pope barely had any business either, "I think the trend is turning around," she said. "I think people are starting to feel more confident now that we have a vaccine out there and that's encouraging but it's been weird."

Wedding industry experts say the eased restrictions help medium to large venues more but any step in the right direction is good.

"I've been on cloud nine," said Kelly.

She had dreamed of getting married in Italy but opted for North Carolina and Hillsborough because her mother is from Warrenton.

She and her husband live in Mount Vernon outside of New York City.

"I'm beyond grateful," she said. "To all the brides who have had to cancel, this is the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm very blessed to not have to cancel or postpone anything."
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