Due to the shelter-in-place order implemented by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), gatherings of 10 or more people are forbidden at this time.
In response to this, weddings — planned months in advance — are not permitted to take place and have been rescheduled for later dates.
Lauren Louise, owner of Lauren Louise Collective, a wedding and event planning company based in Waldorf, said many of the couples who have upcoming events had to be contacted via telephone or email.
“Last week, we scheduled calls with all of our spring couples,” Louise said. “From there, we reached out to venues to get a list of available dates for 2020.”
After the couples choose their date, the vendors, including photographers, videographers, floral designers and caterers must give them the go on the operation. At this time, updating an entire wedding is not an easy task.
“If some of the main vendors are not available, the couple will decide to pick a new date or to move forward without them,” Louise said. “If necessary, we help couples hire new vendors.”
As of now, all of the company’s spring weddings have been postponed to a later date in 2020, with one being rescheduled for 2021.
“We found that couples who have rescheduled earlier had more dates to choose from than couples who waited,” Louise said. “Most venues do not have availability for them to reschedule in 2020.”
Louise told the Maryland Independent that vendors are waiving the date-change-fee at this time due to the uncontrollable circumstances.
“A lot of vendors have date-change-fees listed in the original contracts,” she said. “They are waiving the fees for couples that reschedule. If a couple chooses to cancel, we’ve found that retainers are not returned.”
Louise wants people to understand that these are businesses that need to pay their bills and are “not just hobbies.”
“Retainers are what allows vendors to clear their schedule for the particular date, turning away future inquiries,” she said. “It also allows vendors to pay their employees on time and keeps our businesses running.”
As of now, all of the company’s operations are being handled through Zoom, a remote conferencing service, to enable a more personal face-to-face interaction.
“We found that face-to-face calls encourage kindness, compassion and make our couples feel taken care of,” Louise said.
Louise told the Maryland Independent that she feels grateful for working with couples during this difficult “time of uncertainty.”
“Like all small businesses, we are worried about what this might mean for our bottom line if postponements continue on into the second half of the year,” Louise said. “The more weddings we can reschedule for this year, the better for everyone financially.”
Aida Spalding, owner of Aida’s Events LLC, a wedding and event planning company based in Mount Vernon, told the Maryland Independent that the company is postponing “as much as we can.”
“We are really encouraging clients [to postpone],” she said. “Canceling is losing a lot of money. We are coming up with a plan B for everyone.”
Since weddings get planned months in advance, rescheduling is not an easy task. Spalding told the Maryland Independent that all parties involved ranging from DJ’s, caterers and bakers need to plan ahead.
“It takes a lot of patience, organization and managing emotions,” Spalding said. “We have had clients break down in tears because their big day was right around the corner. This is where you have value in a planner. There is a lot of unknown.”
Although this is a time of much dismay, Spalding encourages everybody to “stay positive.”
“We want [our brides and grooms] to have an amazing day,” Spalding said enthusiastically. “Be patient. Planners are working as hard as they can to get everything organized.”
Brenda Henson, events design coordinator of Events by Henson based in Prince Frederick, told the Maryland Independent that all of the event rescheduling has to be done electronically at this time. However, the “preference is in person,” and all events canceled due to uncontrollable circumstances are fully refundable minus the deposit.
“For events canceled due to an act of God, we refund all monies paid minus the non-refundable deposit,” she said. “We see this as the right thing to do since an act of God is no fault to the customer.”
Henson wants business owners to take advantage of this time and invest in classes to get them “one step further.”
“I do think this is a great time for the owners of these types of businesses to invest in business and financial classes ... to go a step further and implement the theories learned,” she said.
Henson said her biggest concern is the overall financial impact of the pandemic on local businesses.
“I see peers discussing their financial hardships due to the closure,” Henson said. “This too shall pass. So please, treat everyone the way you would like to be treated and focus on the upcoming brighter days. I have faith that great things will come out of this unfortunate situation.”