As we’ve all learned in recent weeks, COVID-19 has found its way into every aspect of life; work and school, sports and play, municipal government operations, food shopping, going to the movies or parks, dining out with family and friends, getting a haircut and celebrating birthdays.
COVID-19 also is making it tough to celebrate weddings.
Couples are having to postpone their special day, one of life’s most carefully planned, choreographed and executed occasions, taking into account such factors as gathering families and friends together, decorating their chosen venue and preparing themselves to walk down the aisle.
“I stopped counting at 47 (postponements) and that was a couple of weeks ago,” Roxy Williams, owner and founder of Makeup by Roxy, Catasauqua, said in a telephone interview April 29.
Williams and her team of makeup artists, hair stylists and tanning technicians, help couples put their best self forward on their wedding day and other special events.
“Our normal has been jeopardized heavily,” Williams said.
Kathy Slane, of Michael Thomas Floral, Allentown, agreed.
Like Williams, Slane’s business has had cancellations in recent weeks, including two in April.
“I keep reassuring them (the brides). We will stand by our contract and do your flowers. I am not turning anybody down,” Slane said. “If they can get it rescheduled we will do the flowers,” Slane said in a telephone interview April 29.
In an email April 26 to The Press, Wesley Barrett, of Wesley Works Entertainment and Photography, Emmaus, a business providing photography and DJ services, totaled postponed or rescheduled weddings on his books at 50, most of which were originally to be held March through June.
“Overall, most of the couples we have been talking with have been taking these unprecedented times in stride. Obviously, after already waiting months to get married, there is some disappointment in having to wait some more, but for the most part, everyone has been handling it pretty well, which is great.”
According to the wedding specialty website TheKnot.com, the national average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $33,900, including the engagement ring but excluding the cost of a honeymoon.
The average cost for those marrying in Pennsylvania hit $35,900 in 2019. Nearby, wedding costs in Delaware and New Jersey averaged $34,900 and $53,400, respectively, according to TheKnot.com writer Maggie Seaver.
Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center hosts more than 115 weddings a year, Gary Kline, director of marketing and guest experience, wrote in an email response.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the resort has received many emails and phone calls regarding the postponing of weddings and social events,” Kline wrote. Some weddings at Bear Creek have moved to 2021.
“The vast majority of the weddings impacted to date were scheduled March – June with the majority being offered alternative dates in 2020,” Kline continued.
Destination weddings also are feeling the pinch.
Makeup by Roxy teams were scheduled to travel to Nashville, Raleigh, N.C., Las Vegas and London in the coming months for wedding ceremonies and related events.
All have been postponed to later this year and into next. For example, the London nuptials, originally scheduled for June 6 will now be held in March 2021.
Couples will be exchanging vows throughout the week. Saturday weddings are moving to Fridays and Sundays, Barrett noted. Thursdays too, Williams said.
“Monday definitely through me for a loop,” Williams said of a recent postponement.
Slane noticed brides taking into account fashion choices in postponement plans. One of her client’s talked with Slane about the watermelon-colored attendants’ dresses she selected for her May wedding remaining appropriate when choosing a new date. Silhouettes such as strapless or spaghetti straps also can matter, Slane said.
Changes beyond postponements also will continue.
Williams anticipates gloves, masks and other changes for herself, her team and her clients.
“It will be about protecting the client and ourselves,” Williams said.
Michael Thomas Floral offers contact-free delivery and curbside pickup for arrangements, Slane said. During the upcoming season, a perennially busy time for florists, Slane and seven coworkers will staff the workshop in shifts of up to four people to maintain proper social distance practices, she said.
Barrett was philosophical writing, “I think we will see some changes once weddings start to happen again. Guest lists will likely initially be reduced to meet recommended health standards. To avoid cutting out previously invited guests, online streaming and delivered “wedding” meals are all within reach. We expect to see more cellphone toasts streamed over our sound system and projector screens from guests who aren’t permitted to travel or video montages created in advance of the wedding to be displayed during dinner. And I say this jokingly, but who knows, tables might have hand sanitizer as centerpieces and bridal parties with matching face masks as a new accessory.”
Barrett noted the wedding industry was nearly recession proof in the 2000s.
“I expect it will move through a pandemic in a similar way,” Barrett wrote.
According to Kline, Bear Creek can host as many as nine weddings per weekend. In addition, other events and occasions are being planned and held at the resort.
“We continue to put action plans and processes in place for guests who would like to visit the resort even though the original planned event may not be taking place or being hosted with the size and scope originally planned,” Kline wrote. “Our goal is to host as many programs as we can do safely and within the established guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and state.”
The impact of COVID-19 also is felt personally for business owners.
“We love and miss each other,” Slane said of her coworkers.
Williams and her staff use a group text to keep in touch and team members have volunteered together for organizations where they could practice social distancing while helping others.
Meanwhile, business continues.
Slane expected floral orders to rise in the run up to Mother’s Day because taking mothers out for dinner or brunch was not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. A delivery of flowers offered an effective way to celebrate and honor moms.
Williams said she’s seen personal care industry groups and organizations offering Webinars and Zoom meetings to help with advice and boost morale during the current health crisis.
Calendars also are filling up with new wedding dates.
Williams has 12 weddings booked now for one Saturday in October.
“I just feel extremely lucky we’ve been able to accommodate them thus far,” Williams said.