Coronavirus sends Boston couples and wedding industry scrambling

Local couples planning to say “I do” in the coming months are now saying “We can’t” because of the coronavirus crisis, throwing them and the whole wedding industry into disarray.

“Just by nature, weddings can be stressful,” said Gabrielle Stone of Stone Event Planning. “When you add this sort of apocalyptic scenario that is affecting people worldwide, it’s an unprecedented situation.”

“I think for most couples, they know that their families and friends and their acquaintances are all healthy and safe, and that’s the bottom line,” Stone added. “It’s just hard to envision what you do if the 15 doors that were once open to you are now closed. The stress level is extraordinary.”

Brides and grooms who were planning on walking down the aisle from this spring and potentially into the summer are now rushing to reschedule. And as we approach prime wedding season in New England, securing a new date when their original venue and vendors are available may prove difficult and require some newfound open-mindedness.

“Where are these dates going to go?” said Jodi Raphael, owner of Jodi Raphael Events. “I know for my own business that September and October are unbelievably busy. Maybe we’ll need to get creative and have weddings on Tuesdays. Maybe we need to start a new trend. Celebrities have been doing it for years.”

“I think that when at all possible, people should try to reschedule so we all remain hopeful,” she continued, adding that winter weddings are also a logical and beautiful backup plan for people needing to postpone their nuptials.

While couples may currently be facing a seemingly insurmountable amount of stress, venues and vendors are also under immense pressure amidst this pandemic.

“Most of the people in the wedding industry are very small businesses,” Stone said. “If a vendor has to give thousands of dollars back to a client, that’s crippling. There are already vendors who may have to close up shop because they can’t afford to have this happen.”

“We’re walking a fine line because some brides and some parents are afraid to give deposits to people who may be going out of business,” Raphael said.

“I’m doing my best to assure people that my vendors and my partners are in this for the long haul and that they’re going to be there, ready and waiting and delighting in their weddings when they happen,” she added.

Fortunately, companies are rallying for the sake of themselves and their couples. Bryan Finocchio, who owns the event planning and floral design company 33 Munroe in addition to working as a nurse at Mass General, said that right now, businesses have each other’s backs.

“We’re reaching out and saying to any planners or florists that if a client needs to reschedule and if rescheduling means they’re unavailable for the new date, we’ll gladly help by taking over their client and splitting the profits in half with them,” Finocchio said. “We’ll try to make it work as best we can.”

“We have a big thread going on Instagram and we’re all in this together,” he added. “Everyone is reaching out like, ‘If you need help … if you need help … ’ So we’re definitely coming together as a community within the wedding industry.”

Finocchio also said that because the situation has forced couples around the world to scratch their initial plans, there is ample understanding on everyone’s part.

“The venues and vendors you’re working with are here for you and your big day, whether you reschedule, push it out a year, postpone for a year,” Finocchio said.

“We’re definitely feeling the pressure, but we’re still here to make your wedding day a reality, so lean on us and know that you’re not alone because everyone is going through the same thing.”

If you have a coronavirus news tip, send it to us at newstips@bostonherald.com.

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