The venues were booked, the flowers selected, the outfits tailored, the menus tasted and the playlists compiled. But when the coronavirus devastated the world last year and travel was canceled, many couples who had destination weddings planned had to postpone their wedding.
Now, almost a year later, with new options and travel restrictions still in place, they are faced with a prospect they had not imagined: to postpone again.
Marissa Barmine, a medical student, originally planned to host around 160 guests at the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, in April.
Now, with regards to the wedding, the date is almost approaching and the hotel says it can host a socially distant wedding for 120 people this month. “But Covid is out of control here in the US and it just feels irresponsible to bring so many people together in this environment,” Ms. Barmine said. “We just don’t feel comfortable.”
When the couple told the hotel they wanted to postpone it, they were told that this would be considered a cancellation and they would lose the $ 10,100 they had already filed and also have to pay the cost of a new event.
“The risks involved didn’t matter to them. It was about what they could legally do and get away with, and they insisted it was still possible to continue the event,” said Ms. Barmine. “We had booked the appointment in advance and they argued that it was too late to give it to another client, which means they would lose money.” (The hotel did not respond to a request for comment.)
Instead, the couple are planning a wedding with just 17 guests, including the immediate family and grandparents.
The Perry Lane Hotel provided the couple with a complimentary suite and allowed them to apply the food and beverage cost for the smaller event to their cancellation fee. Still, the reception for 17 people will cost at least $ 10,000.
“No amount of money could make up for someone who got sick and I know in my heart that we made the right decision,” said Ms. Barmine. “But you’ve put so much time and effort into planning this big event that you want to share it with all of your friends and family, and you imagine what it will be like. So when you find it isn’t happening it is really difficult. ” she said with a sigh. “I definitely cried.”
A recent study by The Knot, an online wedding planning platform, found that 47 percent of couples planning to get married in 2020 will celebrate now in 2021 or later, with health and safety still a top priority.
The biggest challenge for couples is figuring out which date feels safe. Will a wedding be possible in June? Is September More Likely? October? Even if the virus is brought under control by the summer, many fear that travel restrictions will remain in place, including requirements for vaccinations, tests, and mandatory quarantine to prevent the spread of new variants, making it difficult to put together a large number of variants would be guests in a Caribbean resort or a romantic Italian inn.
Last year, when Italy became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, Aurito Chatterjee and Sonia Angral, an Indian couple living in Singapore, postponed their wedding in Tuscany until July this year. However, in January Singapore announced new travel restrictions through the end of the year that could prevent the couple from returning if they head to Europe to get married.
“If you are an expat on a work visa, you can leave the company. However, if you want to return, your rep will have to petition immigration and that is a headache. My friend has been rejected seven times. “Mr. Chatterjee said. “Basically, we might face a situation where our guests can travel to our wedding, but we can’t,” he said.
So far, the venue they have chosen, Castello Di Vicarello in Maremma, has taken their circumstances into account. However, the postponement last year was dependent on a price increase of 20 percent.
“I’m not very optimistic that it will happen this year as well,” said Chatterjee. “There are so many factors. Even if we can return to Singapore, can our families in India get visas? Will Europe be reopened to US citizens? There is still so much uncertainty. “
The couple are determined to get married in Italy, even if it means another postponement.
“The place is very special to us, so we have no choice. This is where we want to do it and we will make it stand out whether it is this year, next year or the year after, ”said Chatterjee. “I just hope they don’t keep raising the price,” he added with a nervous laugh.
Irene Gutan, the executive director of High Emotion Weddings, a luxury wedding planning service specializing in European celebrations, has already started moving all planned events from the first half of the year to 2022. Since most of her customers are from the US in Canada and Australia, she is also careful with bookings from June to August.
“There is simply no way of knowing what travel restrictions will be in place, and this is important as our customers’ guests come from all over the world, which makes the situation very challenging,” said Ms. Gutan. “At the moment we’re trying to finalize every single aspect of the planning for every wedding we’ve booked so it’s in place for when it can actually take place.”
For most weddings, the final decision about hosting needs to be made at least two months in advance so sellers and guests have time to adjust and adjust, says Ms. Gutan. With smaller weddings between 10 and 20 people, there is not so much at stake financially, so couples can postpone the decision longer.
Even if the venues are cooperative, the decision to postpone or cancel them can be costly for couples and their guests. Destination weddings are complex productions where salespeople are usually prepaid and hotels are booked with strict policies against last minute cancellations.
“There is a lot of backlog in venues and hotels during the summer months,” said Muge Atici, a Turkish graphic designer who got engaged last year and has been looking for wedding options in Turkey and Spain.
“I thought this experience was going to be fun, but anywhere I like it is either booked or available on a day I don’t want,” she said. “It really is ugly how much pressure there is on you to pay the deposit and seal the deal without giving any representations about Covid,” she said.
After seeing all of the hurdles their friends went through in planning their weddings this year, Ms. Atici and her fiance are considering having a small last minute ceremony in their hometown of Istanbul this year and maybe a bigger party next year host more people were vaccinated.
Many couples feel exhausted from the process of pushing back and planning an exciting and meaningful milestone. Some have already decided to cancel their event altogether if it cannot take place this year despite financial losses.
“My friends break down because of their weddings and keep fighting with their families and friends because of the stress and pressure,” Ms. Atici said. “To be honest, I want to avoid this situation as much as Covid.”
Georgina Rawlings, a Dubai-based communications and marketing director, has postponed her wedding in Zanzibar to July this year and has stated that she will travel there with her partner while there are still flights to the island nation off the coast of East Africa and have a honeymoon, too when she can’t have the wedding.
Ms. Rawlings works for an events company that has been badly hit by the pandemic and with her industry showing no signs of recovery, she can’t afford to focus on the wedding.
“If it’s our honeymoon, it’s our honeymoon, if it’s our wedding, it’s our wedding, but if it doesn’t happen this year, it won’t,” she said. “I want to have children and get on with my life. I will no longer put my life on hold for a party. “
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