21 March 2020
Concerns about the growing number of coronavirus illnesses in the United States and elsewhere has greatly affected the wedding industry.
People who are about to be married are facing difficult choices: do they postpone, cancel or go ahead with their wedding plans?
"So much extra stress," said 26-year-old Hayley Pass. She and her fiancé had 155 confirmed guests for their March 22 wedding in Cedar Grove, New Jersey.
Pass added, "After all this planning it's like, really, we're going to postpone? We just really want it to happen but it seems like the worst is yet to come."
The couple will only cancel the wedding if their location cancels on them or if their closest loved ones decide not to attend.
Other couples have also decided to keep their wedding dates for now, with the busiest wedding months ahead.
Postponing or canceling a wedding raises many questions. Will businesses and sellers all be available on the same new date and time? Will couples lose money that they already paid?
Usual wedding insurance does not cover concern over a spreading virus. That concern has caused many governments to place restrictions on travel and large gatherings in places around the world.
Some insurance companies are answering questions over how policies work in such an unusual situation.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Most people recover.
People in the wedding industry are feeling the effects of widespread concern over the virus.
Abby Murray is a travel agent in Charlotte, North Carolina. She specializes in planning honeymoons – trips many couples take after a wedding. At this time of year, she would usually have 20 customers. She now has two.
Murray said, "People are scared to book their honeymoons right now. People don't even want to explore it. They're going to move forward with their weddings but take their honeymoons at a later date."
Virus containment measures across China have caused factories there to slow their production of goods – including wedding dresses.
The Green Bride shop in Littleton, Colorado, usually receives up to 60 wedding dresses shipped from China each month from February to May. But this February, it received only four.
Holly Marsh is one of the store owners. She said, "If the wedding is in June, and the dress is supposed to be here in February and it's not going to get here until May, what do you tell them?"
David Gaffke owns the store Complete Bridal in East Dundee, Illinois. He depends greatly on China for manufacturing the dresses he sells.
"It's frustrating when it comes to having to tell a bride that we're not able to fulfill your needs," he said. "This is the most important dress they're going to wear."
Photographer Michael Busada in Washington, D.C. depends on weddings for about half of his business. He has 36 weddings under contract this year, including one that recently canceled after the bride was possibly exposed to the coronavirus. Another wedding went from a large location with 150 guests to a home ceremony with 20.
Busada offered the couple that was forced to cancel a credit or postponement, without penalty. "Everybody's struggling. It doesn't do me any good to be the bad guy," he said.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Leanne Italie reported on this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
exposed – adj. open to view
location – n. a place or position
symptoms – n. changes in the body or mind that indicate a disease is present