By Elise Taylor
Brittany Kraft is supposed to get married on May 15 in Tuscany, Italy. But as COVID-19 upends life everywhere, especially in Italy, it’s a date that’s seeming, with every passing day, more of an improbability. “All that matters is that we get married, however that happens. These things are materialistic,” Kraft says, noting a sincere concern for the health of her family, friends, and those across the globe.
Yet, of course, she’s disappointed, she says: “I remember one day I looked at [my fiancé] Andrew and I was like, ‘This is silly at the end of the day.’ And he just looked at me and he said, ‘It’s okay to be upset.’ I started bawling. You don’t want to be a bridezilla, and there are worse things in the world. But it’s actually the amount of work that you put into it, the imagination that you have, and, you know, actually getting married.”
Brides and grooms around the world are echoing the same sentiments: a worry for those everywhere, and understanding that their wedding, in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, is not all that big in the grand scheme of things. But considering they have spent the past months or years committing their time, money, and energy to an occasion that was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, it still, to put it bluntly, sucks.
Canada-based bride Shirin Mirsaeidi’s place cards and menus had already arrived at her house for the wedding she planned to have on March 28 in Mexico. But, less than two weeks before the wedding, she was forced to cancel. “We didn’t feel right putting people in danger and then contributing to the problem,” she says of her decision. “There was a chance that our friends that were coming would get quarantined from their kids when they returned. It’s hard to keep perspective, but compared to what everyone else is dealing with, postponing a wedding is not that crazy.”
And it’s not just the couples that are feeling upended. “Obviously, no one wants to change their wedding date, but this is something no one can control. We’re trying to be as flexible as possible and asking our partners to be flexible as possible. But it’s tough,” Luis Otoya, of Matthew Robbins Designs, said on Thursday, March 12, less than 24 hours after President Trump announced a European travel ban. He, and all event planners, are dealing with constant breaking news—borders closing, vendors temporarily shuttering, government bans on party sizes—and what that means for their upcoming events.
But even those with weddings further out in 2020 feel stuck in limbo. Elaine Purcell, a New York City bride, is supposed to have a September wedding in Puglia, Italy. As the country continues to battle with its public health crisis, she’s unsure how to move forward. “Everyone’s in a holding pattern,” she says of her vendors and venue. “We completely understand everything is out of their hands.”
Still, due to the faraway locale, her family and friends will soon need to book their travel. “I’m sure they want answers from me. That’s where my anxiety is at.”
Kathryn Arce, a founder of wedding consulting firm Engaging Concepts, recently held an industry conference in Dubai. The new coronavirus was, understandably, all anyone could talk about right now. “Things are usually affecting one group or another,” she says. “But this is someone that is affecting everybody.” She and her cofounder, Rebecca Grinnals, are especially concerned about the economic impact. “The wedding industry is largely made up of boutique, small-, or medium-size businesses,” Grinnals says, most of which will be simply forgoing work while gatherings are off the table.
Do they have any advice for brides- and grooms-to-be planning a wedding right now? One: Make sure you have an experienced team. “Having a planner who is well connected is going to be very helpful to help you navigate any of those changes along the way,” says Arce. Two: Get event and venue insurance, and make sure it covers this type of specific cancellation. (You need to ask, “Will this include risks involved in the coronavirus?” Michael Giusti, a senior writer for Insurancequotes.com, tells Vogue. “Also be on the lookout for clauses like ‘disinclination to travel.’ What that’s saying is if someone simply doesn’t want to travel, that’s not going to be covered.”)
Grinnals does have some words of hope: “People are not going to not get married. The weddings may look different. They may be at a different time. They may be in a different location. They may be a different size or scale. But they’re not going to not get married.” Whether some relatives call in via Zoom or couples spend the day with only a handful of their nearest and dearest, innovative solutions are sure to abound eventually. -Vogue