RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With Governor Ralph Northam expanding gathering restrictions from 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, wedding professionals say their industry continues to be impacted.
“It’s been hard, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Christine Greenberg owner of Urban Set Bride and the Wedding Hive Collective. “People who haven’t gotten married in a long time or don’t know the industry might think weddings are frivolous, but this is our career. This is how we shape our lives, how I pay for childcare, how I feed my family. I am excited for the new restrictions, I hope this is the beginning of the end of this.”
Fifty-seven out of the 60 weddings Greenberg’s business had on the books were either postponed or canceled in 2020. She says a PPP loan did not apply to her wedding planning business, but a PPP loan was able to keep her employees at Urban Set Bride paid when they closed their doors for two months during the pandemic.
“It is a balancing act. We would love long-term projections for the rest of the year to budget and guide our clients, but we have to all make sure we are not pretending this is over,” said Greenberg. “I am hoping May 1 [capacity] can be even more. If we can have a chance to prove ourselves and have safe events, we can be good to go.”
Greenberg, along with photographer Alex Tenser, is happy about the upcoming increase in social gatherings but do admit the wedding industry has felt left out.
“Back in the height of things, in summer and fall, there was a rollout plan. If we are under these numbers, this is what happens, this is what it would like, look. We don’t have that now,” said Tenser. “It would be nice to hear from the governor, if numbers maintain or lower, this is what these gatherings can look like on these dates, that would really help us and our clients to plan in advance.”
Tenser hopes easing restrictions will come with more guidance about how to safely move forward with weddings. She says spring is the busiest season for weddings in Richmond.
“Everyone wants to get married on a Saturday, there are only so many of those in a year. As we see the spring come forward and move through with clients that have already postponed, we as vendors, are already seeing money fly out of the window because we are going through the most profitable months not being able to operate on the weekends. We operate on certain days of the week for the most part for our revenue,” said Tenser.
Tenser says some clients have postponed their weddings up to three times, and with gatherings restricted to 10 people inside and 25 outside until April 1, many are choosing to wait.
“Once you take into account the couple, the officiant to make it legal and the photographer, you’re left with six people. Some people come from blended families and that doesn’t even cover parents sometimes,” explained Tenser. “It is really difficult to ask a couple that had a 150 or 100 person plan with everyone they love and care about, to pair it down to just six people,”
Tenser and Greenberg say wedding professionals have been taking the pandemic seriously, taking all safety precautions at weddings, and they hope to be able to prove their industry can operate within COVID-19 guidelines.
“This is a well-planned, well-thought-out event, with professionals at the helm - capable of showcasing we can do this in a safe way. I am hopeful with what the governor has to say this week, that we can expand the guest count and show we can do this in a safe way,” said Tenser.
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