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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus Cancels Wedding Season, Leaving Vendors In Financial Limbo

Free-Photos from Pixabay

Thousands of springtime weddings have suddenly been put on pause. The coronavirus pandemic means large gatherings are prohibited, and travel is restricted. Wedding vendors now have to deal with significant changes to the wedding season this year. 

Brides and grooms will need to make last minute, drastic changes to their wedding day plans because of coronavirus-related restrictions.

Kristen Maxwell Cooper is editor-in-chief at The Knot, a popular wedding planning website. 

“The research that we've done shows that 96% of couples are looking to reschedule their celebrations rather than outright canceling them,” Cooper says. 

Many who reschedule choose later dates in 2020. But that still puts the entire wedding industry on hold as the coronavirus spreads and economies screech to a halt. 

The timing could not be worse for small business owners who rely on the wedding season to pay their bills – often for the entire year. 

Meredith Russo owns the Flower Petaler, a florist shop in Huntington. About 80% of her business is weddings.  

“Not only are we losing our wedding business, we are losing Easter, Passover, Mother's Day, communions, christenings, prom, and graduation,” Russo says. 

Russo is studying all her options – the recently passed stimulus package, the disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.  

“I'm operating on a week-to-week basis,” she says. “Nobody knows where we're going to be next week.”

All of Russo’s April, May and June weddings have been rescheduled, many of them into next year. And it’s still not clear when the restrictions on mass gatherings will be lifted. 

“For me, right now, I'm looking at it as a loss of an entire year's revenue – my worst case scenario,” Russo says. 

Sarah Parlos owns the Avon-based wedding planning company, One Fine Day. Like Russo, she’s been devouring every bit of information she can find about resources to help small businesses get through the pandemic.

“Whether my bottom line is hurt is not a question of ‘if,’” Parlos says. “I'm positive it's happening. And I know it's happening to every person in the wedding industry. And so the fact that we are all in this together, not one person is failing alone. It is: ‘everyone is struggling together.’” 

Parlos says her company went through some painful layoffs, but one of her top priorities is making sure she can bring back staff as soon as she can.

“Taking care of your staff, stopping the financial bleeding, educating yourself and taking advantage of opportunity is extremely essential,” Parlos says. “Don't sit back and just assume that everything's going to fall into place. There is hard work that has to be done if you want to survive.” 

The wedding vendors are juggling so many unknowns. But the Knot’s editor-in-chief, Kristen Maxwell Cooper, says there is light at the end of the tunnel, if vendors can just make it through this tough stretch of financial hardship.

“Our parent company, The Knot Worldwide, recently announced a vendor assistance program consisting of financial assistance that also includes ongoing education, new products and services, to support this vendor community so that they can get through this moment,” Cooper says. 

She says even through history’s greatest calamities, wars and depressions, people still fall in love, and they still get married. 

“We ultimately know that weddings are going to happen again,” Cooper says. “They're just not happening right now.”

For now, wedding vendors are left pinching pennies and waiting for a call from a bride and groom to-be.  

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
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