Wedding Planners Are Hurting as Couples Turn to Mini-Ceremonies to Follow Social Distance Rules

click to enlarge Texans are turning to micro-ceremonies of 10 or less guests during the COVID pandemic. - Courtesy Flour and Bloom Events
Courtesy Flour and Bloom Events
Texans are turning to micro-ceremonies of 10 or less guests during the COVID pandemic.
With large gatherings up in the air for the foreseeable future, wedding industry professionals say they're seeing more couples downsize to avoid postponing their special day.

Those smaller gatherings — called "minimonies" — are helping couples salvage their wedding plans by bringing together 10 or fewer guests in a way that follows social distance guidelines. But San Antonio's wedding industry vendors say they're feeling the financial impact.

“I‘ve stayed afloat somehow,” said San Antonio floral designer Erin Rose. “I've had a few weddings that have just had to happen, funerals. The weddings I have booked over the next few weeks are going to be just the bride, groom and their minister.”

That's a big change, considering the average wedding size in the Alamo City tended to average around 120 people before the pandemic.

Spring is the most popular season for weddings in Texas, and COVID-19 has ripped the proverbial rug out from under both couples and the vendors who help them pull off the ceremonies.

“This is typically when I build my nest egg for the summer,” Rose said. “Before it gets too hot for people to get married.”

During her 25 years in the business, Tara LaMontia — owner of Flour and Bloom Events, an event planning service in the Texas Hill Country — has never seen anything like the current slump.

“Like any business, there’s always an ebb and flow, but this has been devastating," she said. "Not only financially, but emotionally.”

Ten couples LaMontia was working with have canceled or rescheduled ceremonies in the past two months. That's created a ripple effect. Florists, waitstaff, bartenders, caterers, dry cleaners, musicians, photographers and venue maintenance staff are also affected by each cancellation.

“People don’t understand how far-reaching it is when they have to cancel,” LaMontia says. “To have to keep telling other vendors, ‘You know, I’m sorry, it’s just not happening,’ is emotionally draining.”

In interviews with five wedding professionals, the consensus was that the social distancing policies will lead engaged couples to consider smaller weddings instead of the pricy soirees that grew in popularity over the past few years. And they don't expect that to change for the foreseeable future.

“The average wedding is $30,000,” LaMontia said. “People are realizing that that amount could be a sizable downpayment on a nice home.”

As with most industries affected by the pandemic, wedding pros are unsure of what the new normal will look like. However, those who survived previous downturns say humans still crave the comfort of gathering together.

“After 9/11, weddings were still happening,” LaMontia said. “It was one of the most horrible things to have ever happened to the United States, but we were still able to get together and hug each other. Weddings are such a celebration of love, and when that’s taken away from us, we realize just how much we need it.”

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