If it was a normal year, lots of Americans would be getting ready to attend a summer wedding. The preparations would be right on point – writing toasts, brainstorming new ideas with the planner, selecting their wedding dress, and much more. it as we all well know by now, 2020 is no normal year. The global pandemic and the social-distancing policies that have been put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 have effectively ruled out large gatherings.
South America & Caribbean
What is happening?
“We are in Cartagena, coastal city, everything is closed so far. NO events allowed – not even two people. Restaurants are not opened either, only deliveries.” Says Clara Torres from Cartagena Team Bride SAS, Colombia
Rise in Elopement style weddings
Simone Tostes from Aonde Casar, Brazil tells us “Here in Brazil, the market for weddings has come to a standstill. The virus is still spreading in several regions of the country, which have continental dimensions, so it has been behaving quite differently in several regions of Brazil. However, I believe that elopement wedding is currently the safest choice as long as there is no vaccine for Coronavirus.
I believe that, like me, everyone in the world is on a countdown to get this coronavirus vaccine soon. And, in fact, it will be our salvation. However, as there is still a lot to be tested and the most optimistic forecast is that we will have the vaccine only in late 2020 or early 2021, not everyone wants to stay still, sitting and waiting for something new. And it’s okay if some couples fall into this, everyone has their most intimate and personal desires – and all of them are valid and acceptable, as long as we respect the rules and don’t put anyone at risk. And that is why, I would like to say that in my opinion, at the moment, the elopement wedding is the safest option for couples who do not want to stop saying the famous “yes” while waiting for the vaccine to arrive.”
“We’ve been working by the changes of a semaphore and Events can only start over again, until we reach the green light. We’re still at the orange one. It’s missing the yellow one. But there are some states, as Morelos, the one which gets the maximum Weddings in Mexico, that is already getting small weddings in open spaces (most of the Venues, are actually open spaces here).” Shares Evelyn Paz from Event Flow by Evelyn Paz, Mexico
“Guatemala has been in lockdown and curfew since March 16, its been 123 days without weddings and events. We don’t see a ray of light soon! Cases are increasing right now so it’s been very hard for us, thousands of families depend on wedding and events.” Adds Ingrid Labbé from La Folie Events, Guatemala
Good news coming up with a popular destination wedding spot opening up with travel guidelines listed. The Islands Of The Bahamas has reopened its borders and welcoming international tourists back to its shores from the 1st of July. Hotels, beaches, resorts have all taken proper measures to ensure the safety of their guests.
Most have postponed to 2021
“The government of Colombia keeps postponing reopening. They indicate a date and then when close they indicate 14 days more. This has been a slow death for all the tourism industry in general.” Emphasizes Gina Castillo-Alvarez from Team Bride, Colombia
Fernanda Silva from Wedding Luxe, Brazil also tells us a similar story. “The government has not yet announced any protocol concerning events as Brazil is undergoing the pandemic. The mayor of Sao Paulo has announced the cancellation of New Year’s and Carnival in Feb 2021.”
“Some hotels have reopened but people are not hesitant to book their international destination wedding.” Adds Nikolay Cherichenko from NCH Studio, the Dominican Republic
“At the moment, weddings and events planned for 2020 are nearly all rescheduled for 2021. Numbers are pretty high, but we have reopened for tourism with efforts taken to guarantee the safety and health of both visitors and locals. Hoping things will get better in the following months.” Tells Andrea N from Didea Events & Entertainment, Dominican Republic
Villas and venues that offer exclusivity is a safer option right now! “We are currently crafting intimate luxury celebrations, working with luxury villas and private beaches to keep our clients safe. We are also curating exclusive destination experiences for groups that start from 2 up to 20 guests.” Points Ilse Diamant from Diamant Events, Mexico
The COVID pandemic has hit the world dramatically and weddings are still on pause. “In Peru, social and public events have been canceled all this year and there is no light about when the wedding industry is restarting. Most couples have postponed their weddings till 2021 and even 2022 but there are uncertainty and fear. Civil weddings are taking place with all the restrictions imposed by the government.” Adds Jossy Quezada from Jossy Quezada Wedding Planner, Peru
What can be done?
Promote Romance Tourism
“Part of the problem why our industry has not been recognized is because we have failed to include the word “tourism” in our title. We should indicate that we “promote romance tourism”, instead of just saying “destination wedding planners.” I think that will elevate the destination wedding industry to another level and would make governments and tourism authorities see us differently. We have to start in our industry. I would tell governments and authorities that part of what we do is that we create logistics for an event to take the place, overseeing every minor detail. Therefore it would be easy to add a new detail of implementing sanitation protocols within the event and with our vendors/providers alike. Tourism in general will not happen if countries are imposing 14-day quarantines on travelers since people do not have that luxury. It has to be realistic for the tourism industry. Generally, the hotels promise not to go over 70% of hotel occupation with all sanitizing methods in place.” Suggests Gina Castillo-Alvarez from Team Bride, Colombia
Sharing similar sentiments Evelyn Paz from Event Flow by Evelyn Paz, Mexico adds “Governments must turn out to see the Events Industry as one special but extremely important due to economic spill it gets to the country. There’s hotels, transportation, actually all becomes local consumption, that reflects in each country’s economy.”
We are ready from our end!
Numerous research on social media platforms has shown that the wedding industry has taken a lot of measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and maintain top hygiene standards. “We are ready, already working, learning, and practicing with safety measures to guarantee optimal resources for every kind of event.” Says Clara Torres from Cartagena Team Bride SAS, Colombia
“We are ready to have weddings, open spaces, beaches, and areas where the group is not interacting with others is perfectly safe. Let’s start with smaller numbers. If we are allowing tourists to travel, and they are coming to our touristic destinations, they are looking for ways to relax and party, and they are doing it, I really don’t see the difference with coming and celebrate a wedding also. ” Tells Ilse Diamant from Diamant Events, Mexico
“The wedding industry needs to reactivate soon. There are thousands of wedding professionals all over the world waiting for a green light. We are struggling to keep the business up and running during these hard times. We are feeling the huge impact of this pandemic. Our industry is suffering a lot but we know this will pass soon. We need to be considered by the government and have a reactivation date so we can implement all the necessary procedures to guarantee safe events. People can´t live in fear, celebrations can be organized with safety standards and biosecurity.” Adds Jossy Quezada from Jossy Quezada Wedding Planner, Peru
“We are ready to proceed, we have been studying a lot, we have done protocols, we have sanitization stations for events, all our staff is ready. We are ready to receive our clients, to make memories, to create magic. Love is not canceled!” Beautifully sums up Ingrid Labbé from La Folie Events, Guatemala
Wedding Industry Dependence on Tourism – The 2 mutually inclusive events
“It is really important to understand how many people depend on tourism, I think it is one of the most damaged sectors with this pandemic and they need to try to fix everything and teach all the vendors how we will be working in the future. In our case, no words between the government and we got together and make our one rules of biosecurity and they need to let us work following the rules and keep our sector alive. if they don’t let us work now, they should keep advertising the destination and prepare the people that work in tourism. Together we are stronger but we need the government and the tourism authorities to get on board with our suggestions.” Points Badal Gomez from Soiree Event Planning, Mexico
“To submit as soon as possible all the new regulations and protocols. Our industry contributes very much to the global economy especially the destination where the wedding is held.” Adds Thelma Morales from Sparks Wedding, Guatemala
Allow Small weddings – Something is better than nothing!
Couples want to get married, they want to move ahead with their life. As Guadalupe Alvarez from Penzi Wedding, Mexico tells “To allow us to open for small weddings to at least give it a try and give people work. is been hard.”
Frequent change of laws:
Sharon Sacks, Founder of Sacks Productions, Inc. tells “The scenario for weddings and events in our region which is California is very limited. We are not allowed to have a gathering of more than 20 people and every Friday we get a new reports letting us know whether anything has been lifted. It is a time where our brides and their grooms as well as families come together and decide what truly it is that they want to accomplish on their wedding day. Most of our brides have selected to postpone so that they can have their dream wedding and celebrate with all their friends and families. It is a challenge but with a vaccine and God willing the passing of this horrific disease, celebrations will continue as planned.”
“Currently, we can have weddings of up to 50% capacity or no more than 200 guests, whichever is fewer. Masks are required for all attendees, no more than 5 guests per table. However, they keep changing the rules on us. Last week they came out with no live performers (singers) to be able to play at weddings and no dancing. We feel like we’re constantly chasing a moving target with no set guidelines and the constant week after week changing of regulations. Every time we think we’re “caught up” with regulations, they change it on us! How are we supposed to be prepared for something that is so consistently changing on us?” Adds Rebecca Grant from New Creations Wedding Planning & Twin Willow Gardens Wedding Venue
“Currently, in California, particularly San Diego, everything is closed again. They stopped issuing marriage licenses. Venues, hotels are still closed. Hotels that are still open can accept guests overnight, but, they are not allowed to book any events. Some people are still having receptions at their private homes and limiting the guest list, however, if the neighbors call the police, they could get a citation and the event will be shut down.” Tells Thomas Bui from Thomas Bui Lifestyle
Eloping is firming up as a serious option for thousands of couples in engagement limbo. “90% of the weddings have been canceled or moved to next year. The 10 % of weddings and events have scaled down to elopement size or numbers under 20 people.” Adds Shamay Andrich from Flowers by Shamay
What can be done?
Start planning ahead
Colin Cowie from Colin Cowie Lifestyle, USA shared some interesting points with us on the DWP Biz Edge Series where he focused on carving a way forward. “Plan what your working environment looks like. We cannot expect the clients and staff to just come back to normal. We need to make sure it is safe and they are comfortable. It can be done by having flexible working hours or working from home 2 days a week. Desks can be 6 feet apart and conference rooms should be sanitized. Do all possible things in your capacity to ensure a safe and healthy environment around you.”
Sonal J Shah from Sonal J Shah Consultants, USA also shared her insights on what’s happening in the US market right now in the DWP Biz Edge Series. “From the US, there’s still a huge draw to go to Europe for weddings. Book venues early ’cause there are only limited venues for accommodating large-scale weddings. There are only so many weekends and places in the world. There’s going to be a massive influx once this is over, and with everyone moving to 2021, it becomes more important to prebook to ensure you get your dream place at the desired time. We are still getting inquiries for Italy next year. The virus never killed love.”
To reduce the uncertainty to some extent it would be good to have insurance for some anticipated loss. As said by Roy Schindele from Mission Inn Resort & Club “I would like to see government/tourism authorities to craft some sort of “insurance” plan for people who book weddings and other meetings in general. Something to mitigate contractual damages if they cancel or move their dates and/or cover some attrition costs. If they underwrite a program like this – I believe buyers/bookers of weddings and meetings would be less afraid to book and more apt to stay the course of existing plans. People would be willing to pay a price for peace of mind and in some cases, the resort or venue could pay some or all of it to keep the business on the books.”
Separation of Church from the State
“Separation of Church and State. A government, in the USA, should not have a say or religious ceremonies: Weddings or Deaths.” A unique point suggested by Shamay Andrich from Flowers by Shamay
Empathy & Flexibility
It is imperative to say that a little empathy goes a long way and that’s what we require now to sail through these uncharted waters. “I wish that there was more empathy and recognition of the unique situation that live events & hospitality industries are in. We run on service-based income – if we can’t provide those services, we don’t get paid. So, our cash flow is at a net-zero right now with minimum help from the federal level on down.” Tells Maureen FitzGibbon from Maureen Renée Events, USA
“To offer us flexibility based on the situation and where the event is taking place. In hearing and validating CDC stats on COVID-19, while we need to be back in business, need revenue desperately until a vaccine is available, we as business operators can be liable or having negative news should one case be found even though we are alert in trying to keep regulations on our property. Suggestion for the government for locations that can keep distance as recommended permission should be granted.” Suggests Oral Ali from Quality Inn By The Parks
Roadmap & Guidelines
A clear map ahead would be a good start! “We do not know what the new normal will be for weddings/events, but a road map will help just to guide us of the new reality. Celebrations cannot be paralyzed; therefore we need to be able to host events in our backyard until travel (for destination events) is safe and trusted.” Adds Elida Arias from Fisher Island Club
A seat in the table
A very important point brought up by Rebecca Grant from New Creations Wedding Planning & Twin Willow Gardens Wedding Venue considering how much the destination wedding is contributing to the travel industry.”We were the first industry to be shut down and will be the last to reopen. Give us a seat at the table- NO ONE knows our industry better than the US! Let us help you with walking through the wedding day logistics to help safely reopen weddings so we can get back to work. No other industry is facing having to give refunds to clients, and due to the nature of planning a wedding, we are losing 2 years minimum revenue if not more. Let us have a conversation with you to find the best solution to keep guests and vendors safe while being able to reopen weddings.”
Feature Image Credit: @lindamcqueenphotography