This is the time of year when thousands of couples ought to be tying the knot, making a lifetime commitment, or sipping a glass of champagne when the ceremony is finished and the paperwork is all signed.
But the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a dent in the plans of committed couples and marriage businesses of all kinds: The wedding industry is taking a huge loss because most couples aren’t able to get married as planned.
“There are tons of stories of people who have had to cancel their weddings, have had to make the choice whether they’re going to postpone the wedding or cancel it altogether,” said Danielle Andrews, president of the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada.
Large and small weddings have been put off because gatherings can’t be legally held yet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The future for large gatherings is uncertain.
May is the traditional start of the annual wedding season. June is usually a key month for weddings, but not in 2020.
“There is a lot of heartache,” said Andrews, whose organization includes those who earn their living in the wedding planning industry.
Summer Jennings is a 26-year-old Toronto woman who saw her wedding dreams shattered by the pandemic. She and her fiance were scheduled to be married in late June at the Guild Inn, on the Lake Ontario waterfront.
The venue offered to allow the couple to postpone their event to another date in the next 18 months. But with an unpredictable future, Jennings said the idea of a large wedding now seems unimportant.
“We would appreciate getting our money back so we can make the best financial decision for us,” Jennings told Global News.
Jennings and her fiance would like to use the $5,000 deposit they paid the Guild Inn toward a smaller family event.
“More important than my wedding day is the person I get to marry and we want to get married this year,” Jennings said.
But the Guild Inn is not providing refunds, only future credits — in the same way airlines are offering credits to passengers holding unused tickets.
“No one is giving refunds,” said Andrews, adding that deposits are used by venues to guarantee the date for an event.
Andrews said deposits are used to pay administrative costs toward planning an event, like food tasting.
“They’ve already done a lot of work for that couple,” Andrews said.
“If the couple were going to postpone, every single vendor and professional I have been in contact with is going to honour that initial payment and let them apply it to their event but no one is giving money back,” she said.
The Guild Inn’s owner says 98 per cent of clients have agreed to postpone their event.
‘It’s not like we’re the big bad wolf here,” said Sam D’Uva, president of Dynamic Hospitality and Entertainment Group, which owns the Guild Inn.
“We’re victims here, too,” said D’Uva, pointing out that his company has lost all revenue as a result of the pandemic.
“We’re trying to survive like everyone else,” he said.
Jennings said she is part of a Facebook group that includes other Guild Inn clients who are in the same position.
She said she had every intention of going through with the June wedding as planned until the pandemic prevented it.