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Washington, DC couples upset about ban on wedding dancing

A ban on dancing at wedding receptions in Washington, D.C., has couples contemplating postponing or scrapping their celebrations.
/ Source: TODAY

Couples planning to tie the knot in Washington, D.C., this summer feel like they have been turned into characters from "Footloose."

They want to dance, but town restrictions won't let them.

COVID-19 guidelines in the nation's capital are drawing comparisons to the small-town laws in the classic 1984 Kevin Bacon movie after Washington, D.C., officials banned all standing and dancing at wedding receptions just as wedding season is getting underway.

The order means no traditional father-daughter dances, no first dances between newly-married spouses and no group get-downs on the dance floor with friends and family.

"One of the things we were most looking forward to was our first dance and not being able to do any of that kind of just puts a damper on the whole celebration," bride Tory Waltrip told Hallie Jackson on TODAY Friday.

The dancing ban, which was ordered by Washington mayor Muriel Bowser last week, comes at the same time that restrictions have eased on the number of people allowed at receptions in the city.

Up to 250 people or 25% of a venue's capacity are now allowed at receptions as COVID-19 numbers trend downward with more people getting vaccinated.

Waltrip has already rescheduled her wedding twice and gotten legally married to her husband in the midst of the pandemic.

"If it remains that we can't have dancing, we're probably just going to go ahead and cancel, which would be a huge, huge bummer," she said. "To not be able to have a real celebration or a real party, it just honestly doesn't seem worth it."

Wedding planner Kaitlin Przezdziecki envisions a loss of business for venues in the city due to the restrictions. Couples may also swap in comedians or magicians for a band or DJ.

"Clients are ready to pull the plug on D.C. and move out to spaces that are going to allow them to be dancing with their friends and family," Przezdziecki told Jackson.

Bowser maintains that the dancing ban is to prioritize safety and prevent receptions from turning into superspreader events. She has indicated she could lift the restrictions in a few weeks depending on the success of local vaccination efforts.

"You might look at this differently," Bowser said at a press conference. "You might say that for 14 months, we haven’t been able to host weddings at our venues, at our hotels, and now we can."

Public health experts, like NBC News medical contributor Dr. Kavita Patel, are backing up Bowser's approach.

"At something like a wedding where people are together on a dance floor and are likely to have their masks off in order to drink or eat, those are exactly the types of risk activities that we would not want to engage in especially when we are still trying to vaccinate a majority of the country," Patel said on TODAY.

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