“All my weddings have been canceled because the venues had to close due to orders from the state as non-essential businesses, and so I returned deposits to those couples,” said Michael Domingo, a California based event photographer. “Photo gigs make up a third of my income.”
With social distancing in place in most states, the spring wedding season has come to a halt. Leaving vendors and photographers without jobs and income. Prior to the stay-at-home orders, the wedding industry was already experiencing trouble due the halt of all production in China due to the coronavirus.
The U.S. wedding industry is a $2 billion dollar industry, with the early months in the year being primary months of shopping and wedding planning.
Following the outbreak weddings have been canceled in response to social distancing guidelines which limit the number of people gathering to 10 people. Venues are cancelling and postponing weddings to adhere to the guidelines.
Melissa Ann Pierson, a freelance writer in California was forced to postpone her March 20, wedding until July. The California stay at home order went into effect the week before.
Pierson and her husband planned their wedding using all their savings and planned to continue with the original wedding date due to their contract with their venue. Then 20 of their guests cancelled and their officiant, three days before their wedding the couple was forced to cancel.
“It was horribly stressful, we got called ‘socially irresponsible’ on social media,” Pierson said. “ We had to make calls to the florist and baker about postponing the florist was nice enough to move the date without losing the money we paid.”
The Piersons were unable to cancel their wedding due to having paid the venue in full. The couple rescheduled their wedding celebration to a weekday in July to avoid losing their money.
According to Alexandria Catherine, owner of Alexandria Catherine Events a Philadelphia based events planning company, events are being moved from April-June to the fall/ winter season rather than being canceled. While the venue will not lose the wedding party, the income for vendors and event planners like Catherine will come much later in the year. This poses a problem from expenses incurred at the moment.
“We are doing our best to work with everyone to be prepared. Fall clients are now anxious if they’ll be in the clear,” Catherine said. “My hope is that they will be but it is an uncertain time for us.”
Prior to a global outbreak of the virus, the wedding industry was already experiencing trouble with wedding dress production. Due to the outbreak the Chinese government extended the week-long break following the Lunar New Year break. Factories in China opened in the first week in April and had to apply to reopen and comply to certain standards.
The bridal gown industry is primarily made up of 6,000 small businesses that receive silks and lace from China. While the dresses are made in the United States, the materials are sourced in China. The United States imports 80% of wedding dresses and materials from China .
The National Bridal Retailers Association released their only statement regarding the virus, downplaying the issue of a possibility of a shortage in dresses and materials.
“We have been consistently monitoring the situation in China since the reports of the virus began. Fortunately most shipping delays are minimal and anticipated the close of the factories due to the Chinese New Year, and they expected the production times were already calculated into most orders placed by bridal retailers.” the National Bridal Retailers Association said.
The association represents over 1,000 independently owned bridal retailers in the United States that work with each other to provide for their customers.
According to the National Bridal Retailers Association facebook page the Knot couture Bridal Couture Week, originally scheduled from April 18-20 has been cancelled as well as London Bridal fashion week.