Bliss on Hold

Coronavirus takes its toll on couples’ wedding plans

Pandemic forces costly change of plans for some

(July 2020) – With all of the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, the wedding industry was certainly not left untouched. From cancellations and postponements to downsizing and implementing social distancing, weddings look a lot different this year. Two area brides, Jessica Holtman, 27 (fiancé Arthur Littlefield), of Erlanger, Ky., and Cassie Riley, 31, (fiancé Joseph Haydon), of Louisville, Ky., have both faced changed plans.
Holtman and Littlefield’s wedding was originally set for July 1. Now the couple is planning for a wedding in July 2021. As Holtman and Littlefield prepared for their wedding, some of their guests began to express concerns about attending the wedding. “Their safety was our top priority, and I knew I couldn’t bear it if we celebrated the day without some of our loved ones,” said Holtman. “We finally made the announcement to postpone in late May after our officiant told us he no longer felt comfortable performing the ceremony.”

Photo provided

Cassie Riley and Joseph Haydon of Louisville, Ky., had to reschedule their wedding plans in Newport Beach, Calif.

Riley and Haydon were engaged in October 2018 on the Salcantay Trek to Machu Picchu in mountains of Peru. The couple originally planned to wed in June of this year on Haydon’s family farm in Bardstown, Ky. After some initial planning, the couple decided to move their wedding location to Newport Beach, Calif., where they met in spring 2017.
“Joseph and I knew that Newport would always hold such a special place in our hearts, so we proposed a destination wedding to our parents,” Riley said. “After picking our new wedding date of April 4, 2020, and our venue in Newport, we started hitting wedding planning hard last summer.”
Riley made several trips to Newport Beach with her fiancé, her mother and her future mother-in-law to finalize plans, which unfortunately had to change due to the pandemic. “We wanted to first and foremost consider the health, safety and wellbeing of our family members and friends who were planning to travel out to California for the wedding,” Riley said.
After Orange County began to shut down, Riley and Haydon made the decision in late March to postpone their wedding. “We let all of our guests know and took a step back from the wedding to give ourselves some time to grieve, then started reaching out to our guests about availability for the back up date. For now, we are planning to get married in Newport Beach on Oct. 10 at Lido House.”
Holtman and Littlefield originally planned to marry at Richwood on the River in Milton, Ky. They still intend to do so next summer. “Richwood was incredibly helpful, kind and receptive to our changes. Our wedding will hopefully be just as we planned it next year, with the exception of finding a few new vendors,” Holtman said.
Colleen Sutton, owner of Richwood on the River, said that she has had to reschedule 13 events for this year. “This is a $300,000 loss in business revenue for us for 2020,” she said. “I feel very fortunate because my husband is so financially savvy, and when it started, he got his hand on the pulse of federal aid available for small businesses.”
Along with the difficulty of changing the date, Holtman said that she and her fiancé lost money. “Thankfully, only our deposits were lost, so we got kind of lucky in that respect,” she said.
Riley also noted the financial toll this has taken on their guests. “We have a lot of money wrapped up in the original wedding plans, and so do our guests with having to rebook flights and change accommodations,” she said. They are also dealing with the need to find a different photographer, videographer and hair and makeup team. “We are really bummed about losing some of our vendors, since we spent a lot of time looking for the perfect matches for Joe and me.”

Photo provided

Jessica Holtman and Arthur Littlefield had planned a July 1 wedding at Richwood on the River in Milton, Ky. Now it has been postponed until July 2021.

Even with Riley and Haydon’s new wedding date, their plans are still up in the air. “Our guests aren’t sure what they want to do or feel comfortable doing, so we are having a hard time getting concrete answers from anyone. There are just a lot of unknowns,” she said. “Will the numbers keep growing? Will there be a second wave in the fall? Will guests have to wear masks to the wedding?”
Sutton said that events at Richwood on the River will look different moving forward since guests will be asked to follow social distancing measures and events will have smaller numbers of guests. “We are slowly re-opening. We have two small weddings at the end of July with immediate families. We’ll be outside in the open air, and we’re taking into account our couples and their concerns. We want everyone to feel comfortable,” she said.
The most difficult aspect of the changed plans for Holtman and Littlefield was the emotional toll it took. “It was incredibly stressful to decide what we should actually do. I’m still sad about the situation because our wedding was a shining spot to look forward to in this currently dismal year,” Holtman said.
Riley and Haydon faced similar feelings. “You have this image of what your perfect day is going to look like, and now we just have no idea. It’s extremely sad and frustrating,” Riley said.
Despite this, both couples say they are looking toward the promise of the future. “Even though we ultimately decided to reschedule, there are some silver linings. We’ll be able to plan things more thoroughly and save up money for a really nice honeymoon. Also just knowing that next year we’ll be able to have all of our family around us feeling safe and happy makes the decision worth it,” said Holtman.
“We know that one way or another, we will get married,” Riley said. “It has definitely created some obstacles but has strengthened our relationship along the way. We have had to work through some really big decisions already, but we have made it and came out stronger on the other side.”

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