Wedding planner: “I had never seen the industry I love come to a halt”
By Hunter McCoy
TUSCALOOSA – One Georgia-based wedding planner says she thought the COVID-19 virus would never reach the states. However, she was proven wrong when the first few cases were confirmed, and couples began canceling weddings back-to-back.
Melissa Adams, owner of Godfreys Weddings, says the first shutdown was only supposed to be for a two-week period. However, after that two-week period, she began to experience something she has never witnessed.
“I had never seen the industry I love come to a halt,” she said. “I had 14 weddings postpone to this year and some to 2022, and some canceled their wedding all together.”
With the unpredictability of the deadly virus and people not wanting to put others’ health at risk, engaged couples had to make tough decision regarding their wedding plans. Some weddings were canceled all together, some were rescheduled and some were held with caution.
One recently married Georgia couple made the decision to proceed with their original wedding date in April of 2020, but they had to cut their guest list significantly, cut the bridal party completely – except for the bride’s siblings – and cancel their reception.
Kinsey Cannon, the bride, says it was really difficult to have to alter her dream wedding. Mainly because she could not have all the people she wanted in attendance.
“As a little girl, I dreamed of this wedding,” she says. “I wanted all of my family and friends there. I wanted my bridal party next to me. I didn’t get that.”
Leighton Cannon, the groom, says everything he and his then fiancé had planned was suddenly changed.
“The changes for the ceremony were drastic,” he says. “We had to adjust everything.”
Couples were not the only ones who had to make changes. Vendors, like Adams, had to make changes to the services they offer just to keep business afloat.
Adams says she had to create and offer another package so that she could keep things moving throughout her business.
“As most of the venues were shut down, I created a small wedding package,” she says. “The ceremony had to be under 20 guests, and I continued working at private estates and state parks. It felt like the safest way to keep my business afloat and be able to help couples.”
“Now, there is a pandemic section added to my Force Majeure in my contract.”
Some wedding venues are even making changes to the services they offer so they can better accommodate couples.
Jessica Cunningham, a November 2022 bride, says her venue changed the payment due date because of the unpredictability of the virus.
“Because of the pandemic, I don’t have to have everything paid in full to my venue until 90 days before the wedding,” she says. “The venue has that in place just in case the date has to change.”
However, some wedding vendors, like photographers, are having to up their prices because of the health measures they are taking, according to Cunningham.
“Planning a wedding right now is not the greatest,” she says. “But with the pandemic going on, I am finding some really good deals. However, I am also finding people who are charging way too much for their services – such as one photographer was $8,000, because she only does one wedding a month.”
Even though the country is slowly getting a handle on the pandemic, couples are still facing problems when it comes to trying to plan a wedding. However, they are not the same problems 2020 engaged couples faced.
Adams says the remainder of this year will be a huge wedding year due to postponements from last year.
“The Wall Street Journal said the wedding boom was coming and they were not kidding,” she says. “Between postponements from last year and weddings that were scheduled for this year, I have 26 weddings.”
Cunningham, who got engaged in February of 2021, says she had no intention of waiting until November of 2022. Yet, because of the wedding boom, venues are booking up quickly.
“I was originally going to get married in February of 2022, but that date was not available,” she says. “The venue had an opening in November, and I felt that would be the best decision, because hopefully it will also allow for the craziness to die down.”
Because of the predicted wedding boom, Adams says couples need to keep that in mind during the planning process and to not wait until the last minute to book vendors.
“For anyone getting married this year, 2022 and 2023, do not wait to book your vendors,” she says. “Everyone’s schedule is booking up quickly and there is nothing worse than having to turn away a couple because we are already booked for their date.”
After a crazy and sad year, she also says all the upcoming weddings are giving people something to look forward to.
“I think people want something to celebrate when we have been in a moment of disparity,” she says. “We have all watched millions pass, our political climate change, the issues with race in our country implode. Our new normal is a strange place to be in, we are all managing through it.”