- As the coronavirus continues to spread, public gatherings are being discouraged and even banned throughout the world.
- Many couples planning to get married in the coming weeks and months are postponing their nuptials, as it will be less of a financial burden than canceling.
- But postponing can be complicated to arrange with vendors, leading many brides to try to proceed with their weddings despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
JoAnnie Valentine's March 21 wedding is off. She hasn't been jilted, and it wasn't a case of cold feet. In fact, Valentine is still very much in love with her fiancé, Juan Dominguez. It's the coronavirus that interrupted the festivities.
As schools close and concerts are postponed across America in an effort to mitigate the effects of the virus, many brides are now contemplating canceling their long-awaited day as well.
Postponing is turning out to be a good solution for many engaged couples, as it allows them to keep their pricey venue deposits and gives them the security of knowing their weddings will happen someday.
But other couples are determined to have their weddings as planned unless the government tells them they can't.
Some brides have already postponed their weddings as the coronavirus continues to spread
Postponing turned out to be the best course of action for Valentine. She called her venue on Thursday, the morning after the NBA suspended its 2020 season and President Donald Trump announced a temporary ban on travel from Europe.
"I said, 'Is there an option for me to postpone it to when things kind of get better?' and they didn't give me a hard time at all," Valentine told Insider of her venue's response to her call.
"They looked through the calendar, and they postponed the wedding to June 27."
Andrea Galbreath and Andrew Normand, who are based in Southern California, also decided to postpone their April 11 wedding.
They were particularly excited about the wedding because it was going to be the first time a lot of Galbreath's international family members were going to meet her fiancé. Galbreath's family is from Jamaica and Canada.
"It would have been an occasion of blending cultures," Galbreath said.
Galbreath, who spent eight months planning her wedding, says she's still be getting married at the courthouse on April 11. She met Normand on April 11, and got engaged a year later on April 11. Galbreath estimates they spent a total of $25,000 on the wedding.
The wedding was postponed because Normand's sister, who is in Europe, is unable to come because of the travel ban. "And we have family coming from all over and some are considered higher risk, and they're now nervous about flying," said Galbreath.
"All of the important people that we would want to be at our ceremony can't be here, so we decided to postpone it."
Others are trying to postpone, but that comes with its own challenges
Sarah Abdi and Chris Thomas, who live in Irvine, California, have been planning to get married exactly a year after they got engaged on April 26 in Maui, Hawaii.
The couple hasn't yet decided if they're going to postpone, but Abdi has been in touch with her vendors because some of their guests have already told them they won't be able to attend. The couple was originally expecting 110 guests, and now they're down to less than 80.
"They're all willing to postpone my deposits as long as the date is within 2020, but the issue is now finding a date that every single vendor is available on," Abdi said.
Coordinating venues, florists, and catering services is already challenging, and the short notice and myriad of couples trying to plan amid the outbreak only makes it more difficult. Abdi and Thomas have already spent $60,000 on their wedding.
The couple will lose money even if they do postpone. "I've gotten a lot of things with our date on them," she pointed out, such as invitations and ceremony schedules.
Abdi is also worried about the possibility of a domestic travel ban, as well as how the virus might impact some of the high-risk guests at the event.
But she's trying to stay positive despite her concerns. "What really matters is Chris and I getting married, and everything else will fall into place."
Utah-based couple Siera Curtis and Tony Marrero are also wondering if they should cancel their May 2 destination wedding in Oregon.
"Our biggest concern is my fiancé is from New York, so he has a lot of family there," Curtis told Insider. They're also worried about endangering their high-risk guests.
"I have two grandparents and his mom has COPD, so we couldn't risk them coming to an area that's really high in the number of cases."
The wedding is still over a month away, so the couple feels like they just have to wait to see how things happen. But the virus is already impacting their wedding activities.
"I have a bachelorette party in Vegas next weekend, and I've already had one of my girls pull out because she has a compromised immune system," Curtis said.
Some brides won't cancel or postpone until they absolutely have to
"I'm not going to be the one to postpone," Dana Corcoran told Insider of her May 8 wedding. She and her fiancé, Frank Rubano, live in Staten Island and have been planning their wedding for a year.
Corcoran estimates she's spent over $50,000 on the venue alone. Since her 175-person event is under the CDC's recommendation of avoiding gatherings of more than 250 people, she doesn't feel like she needs to postpone her event.
"If a government official tells me I have to postpone I will, but I'm not going to be the one postponing."
Laurie Halloran and Francis Masino feel the same way about their New Jersey wedding, which is scheduled for April 4.
"I'm sort of holding onto this small hope that within three weeks we'll find ourselves in a very different climate as far as public health goes," Halloran told Insider.
Halloran and Masino put $25,000 into their event, with Halloran hand-making her centerpieces. Their area does not currently have any known cases of the coronavirus.
"Our fears that are widespread right now might be alleviated, or they might be worse," Halloran said of the global attitude by the time her wedding date rolls around. "But I'm just not ready for that mindset yet, because I planned and put so much hard work into this."
"I can see myself having it unless it becomes such a widespread issue in this particular area that we would be banned from having gatherings," she said.
The wedding industry is preparing to be hit by the coronavirus outbreak
Weddings are uniquely positioned to be hurt by the pandemic both because they are public events and because they require travel for many people.
"Most weddings involve travel and they are public gatherings, which can be a bit of a breeding ground, so weddings are getting hit," UK-based wedding coordinator Nina Beer told Insider. "And don't underestimate the impact canceling a wedding can have a bride's mental health."
The $72 billion industry impacts thousands of workers, from planners to servers to bands. As couples contemplate changing their wedding dates, professionals in the industry worry about how cancellations or postponing will impact their livelihood.
For instance, a wedding photographer based in South Florida told Insider he's been in communication with a bride who is thinking about canceling.
"I'm willing to reschedule the photography for her wedding date, but I certainly can't afford to flat out lose thousands of dollars on top of all these canceled jobs," he said.
"We have been holding this wedding date for one year, and I realize that this would happen to many brides and grooms."
If couples go forward with their weddings, they plan on taking extra precautions with their guests
The biggest step couples are taking is to encourage guests who don't feel well not to attend their weddings.
"We would definitely reach out to everyone and say if you are sick, we would love if you were there but in protection of our guests we would love it if you actually just didn't come," Curtis said of her plan.
"We're telling a lot of our guests that we understand if they are uncomfortable traveling," Abdi echoed. She also plans on making sure hand sanitizer is readily available and will encourage guests to be hygienic.
"But as far as asking guests stay a certain distance from each other, it's hard because it's a wedding," she said, speaking of CDC guidelines that encourage people to stand six feet apart from one another to avoid the spread of the virus.
"To what extent do you go?"
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