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Wedding Planners And Vendors — Not To Mention Couples — Scramble To Adapt


Whether or not to walk down the aisle is a big question for many couples. But once you've decided...

ALLISON SWINGLEY: And then you start planning. You get your hopes up about everything. You start talking to your dad about what song you want to dance to and planning the flower arrangements with your mom. And then the rug gets ripped out from under you.

CHANG: That's Allison Swingley. She and her fiancee, Alyssa Arthur, were planning to get married on April 25.


They'd spent 15 months arranging all the details. A venue was booked. Invitations were mailed. Their dresses were altered to fit them perfectly. Now the coronavirus has all their plans screeching to a halt.

SWINGLEY: Doing a courthouse wedding is just not something that every little girl dreams of, so we decided that we wanted to push it back.

CHANG: The CDC recommendations would require them to cut down their 100-person wedding list way down. And then the guests would have to stay 6 feet apart.

KELLY: Swingley says, even if they did have a very, very small wedding, Alyssa Arthur's dad, who is active duty Air Force in California, wouldn't be able to attend because all leave has been suspended until further notice at his base.

SWINGLEY: Not having your father at your wedding is just not something that anyone wants to have to deal with.

CHANG: This couple is not alone. Jeffra Trumpower from the WeddingWire says lots of couples are having to figure out what to do during spring wedding season this year. The usual number that they see getting married...

JEFFRA TRUMPOWER: We really see most weddings happening for spring in May. So we actually have 373,000 upcoming weddings in May and 250,000 in April.

KELLY: She says couples should be methodical when postponing their weddings.

TRUMPOWER: So getting on the call with their vendors right away, figuring out what their options are, working with their wedding planner if they have one and really leaning in to the people that they were already working with for their wedding.

KELLY: Professional wedding planners like JoAnn Gregoli are already seeing the impact firsthand. The 25 weddings she was working on this season...

JOANN GREGOLI: Every one of those weddings are being postponed - every single one.

CHANG: Gregoli has been in the business 30 years and has planned weddings in the face of other pandemics like Zika and SARS, but she says the coronavirus is having a much different impact on the wedding industry.

GREGOLI: At home, we can do all of our scheduling and our, you know, reports and stuff. But we can't have onsite meetings for tastings. We can't taste cakes. We can't visit floral designers. You know, we can't go wedding gown shopping. You know, we can't go to the venue.

KELLY: Key wedding vendors like caterers are also feeling the pinch. Margot Jones has had to close her business. She owns Purple Onion Catering Company in Vienna, Va. She lost 21 weddings and some corporate commitments as well.

MARGOT JONES: For all of our events, we're looking at about $2 1/2 million in sales that we'll be losing.

CHANG: In spite of vendors going through financial hardship and couples being in limbo over what to do, as a wedding planner, Gregoli says this will pass. And couples should not lose sight of their dream.

GREGOLI: The goal is to marry the person you love. If it's not in April, it'll be in July. It'll be in, you know, September. But you're still going to marry them, right? So you just have to keep that in perspective.

KELLY: Allison Swingley and Alyssa Arthur have moved their April wedding to October - for now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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