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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 20, 202005:10 AM EST

Coronavirus impact: Wedding industry goes on pause

Many weddings in March and April are postponed.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

Monday morning was difficult for Tara Lee, owner of LoveLee Events. 

Lee, who plans weddings and other events, made a call to a client whose wedding was scheduled for March 28 to tell her the venue she booked months ago had closed because of coronavirus concerns.

“I’m trying not to get emotional because you work so closely with these folks and to have to tell someone they have to cancel is a hard thing,” Lee said March 19.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, businesses shut down and authorities discouraged gatherings of more than 50 people and then no more than 10.

Wedding vendors have seen postponements and cancellations of nearly all their bookings for March and April. 

Lee is planning weddings for the fall, but she hasn’t had any inquiries in the past two weeks. 

“It’s a really scary thing for couples, but it’s also scary for us vendors, who a lot of us are small business owners,” Lee said. “It’s really scary that our income is going to be so drastically affected.”

While many weddings have been postponed to the summer or fall, booking popular venues and busy caterers, photographers and florists can challenge the couple and the business owner, Lee said. 

Luckily, Lee said, the hot and humid Florida summer usually isn’t popular for weddings. That freed up many couples to rebook then. 

But it can be difficult to rebook with the same vendors, because many need to be scheduled 12 to 18 months in advance, she said. 

Rescheduling also takes away an additional opportunity for vendors to make money.

“If people choose a new date, then that’s a date we can’t book more income for,” Lee said. “As vendors you want to be as understanding as possible. We want to honor your new date, but that’s going to prevent us from booking another date.”

Lee said she’s had some events cancel. Her corporate events postponed much earlier. 

Kristin Ivey, the owner of A Happily Ever After Floral, said three weddings planned for the weekend were postponed.

Kristin Ivey owns A Happily Ever After Floral off Roosevelt Boulevard. She had three weddings planned for this weekend and all were postponed, but the flowers already arrived. 

Since the flowers won’t be used for the wedding, the clients took them home to decorate or donated them, she said. New arrangements will need to be ordered for the new date. 

“We get them the week of the wedding, they’re already here,” Ivey said. “When they had to cancel, we already had all these flowers and it was really upsetting we weren’t able to do the wedding.”

A few of her weddings planned for April are still scheduled. 

Some florists are worried they won’t make it through the pandemic, but Ivey said she’s lucky to have money saved.

“We’re definitely going to be able to pull through this for sure,” she said. “My husband and I are savers, so we’re very thankful for that.”

Despite the lost income, Ivey and Lee said it was best that the weddings were postponed to keep people safe. 

“We want people to be smart,” Ivey said.

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