Amrita Ramakrishnan and her fiance planned to marry during a two-day Indian wedding in Sacramento later this month. But the couple had to postpone, a decision she said was anxiety-ridden, after they received cancellation after cancellation from guests who would be traveling internationally.
“We didn’t really think too much about it being canceled initially,” Ramakrishnan said, “until some wedding guests contacted us who were going to fly in, and they started getting really nervous.”
She and her fiance rebooked their wedding plans for later this year. But she said, because part of it included traditional ceremonies, rescheduling was difficult.
“With especially an Indian wedding, there are so many other elements to it, like a henna artist and a priest coming from somewhere else — there were all these other components to take care of and rescheduling or cancellation, notifying them,” she said.
As Sacramento wraps up its first month of stay-at-home orders, the wedding industry has taken a hit, with many postponed until the summer — or later — as a result of the coronavirus.
The region typically sees around 2,000 weddings in the first quarter of the year, and experts estimate around 95 percent of those have been cancelled or postponed.
Richard Markel, director of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, worries that the postponements and cancelations have had a ripple effect. He said the wedding industry includes about 26 different categories of businesses, from photographers to cake makers to entertainers, and that a majority of operators are independent, self-employed and single operators who rely on retainers as pre-wedding revenue.
“There will be less income for the year in the way of weddings,” Markel said.
However, he thinks the industry may have been spared the worst because the pandemic hit during a time typically slower for weddings.
Looking forward to bookings later in the year, he’s seen some cancelations, but many people are choosing to wait and see, given concerns over whether health officials will recommend attending large gatherings.
Jenna Franke of Foster City had been planning a 130 person wedding for mid-July, but she and her fiance recently made the decision to postpone their Marin nuptials. She said they did so because many guests would be coming from out of state.
“When it came down to it, we just didn’t feel comfortable asking the majority of our guests to travel … with how uncertain everything is because of COVID-19,” Franke said.
She and her fiance have decided to still elope with a few members of their family on their original wedding date, and have pushed the larger ceremony to next year.
But Amrita Ramakrishnan said that, even with a rescheduled date, she’s still worried.
“We’re just dealing with a lot of unknowns here, so we figure postpone to the fall, and if it doesn’t work out we postpone until next year,” she said.
Franke agreed, and said that even though there are talks of re-opening the state in the next few months, she didn’t think life would totally go back to normal until a vaccine was available.
“Ultimately, large gatherings aren’t really going to be safe until enough people can be vaccinated. I could definitely see state policy not allowing wedding-sized gatherings at certain points if there’s different surges of coronavirus cases,” Franke said. “It’s tough, because I feel like nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
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