Craig LeMoult / WGBH
As some states begin to relax pandemic restrictions on gatherings, many families are eager to reschedule weddings that are other vulnerable events. This is welcome news for function halls and other event-related businesses, although they continue to navigate a new normal, with the pandemic not over yet.
Tricia Henderson recently stood in the ballroom at Oceanview of Nahant in Massachusetts, an event where she plans to get married in May, examining potential napkin colors to match them with sea glass in the centerpieces. She said she does not have enough centers now, because they had to increase the number of tables to meet the state’s new COVID-19 regulations.
Henderson acknowledged that the government Charlie Baker probably did not consider it when he set the new rules.
“God bless him for trying, and I appreciate everything he has done,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s very inconvenient to have to have 17 tables with six people.”
Still, she’s excited about actually having her wedding. It was supposed to be in July, but indoor gatherings were banned in the state due to the pandemic. So they rescheduled for September. It could not happen either. Her third date, in May, looks good, though, because as of March 22, indoor gatherings of 100 people are OK in Massachusetts again.
But the pandemic is not over. So like everything these days, however, her wedding will look a little different than what she originally pictured.
“So here’s my invitation,” she said, pulling it out. “And I submitted my invitation,” the COVID policy will be followed. “”
She said her guests should be familiar with these guidelines by now.
“I mean, we all know what’s going on in Massachusetts,” she said. “We all know we still have to wear masks.”
It includes on the dance floor. Henderson said the pandemic caused other wedding problems.
“I bought a dress and had it fitted,” she said. “And everyone knows what happened to COVID, right?”
With a little hard work, she said, the dress fits again.
Her biggest challenge is to get the guest list down to a maximum of 100 people the state allows indoors.
CraigLeMoult / WGBH
“So I’ll have to eliminate my colleagues,” she said. “They do not know yet.”
Mike Gallant, the owner of Oceanview of Nahant, said last year that it felt like his entire industry was handcuffed and blindfolded. But suddenly the phone rings off the hook.
“Now that we’re starting to see nationwide that some of the guidelines and regulations are starting to loosen up, these people are starting to say ‘hey, I feel comfortable planning now. Let’s start celebrating love, and let’s start planning our wedding day as we envisioned it, ” he said.
The combined demand from everyone like Henderson who had to postpone weddings and all the couples who have been engaged for the past year means that some are starting to book weddings on Tuesdays, Gallant said.
“Midway celebrations work,” he said. “Speaking of our bookings, we have one day available throughout July and one day available throughout August.”
An industry-leading research company, The Wedding Report, says the amount spent on weddings in the United States was cut in half last year to $ 25.7 billion. It looks a little better for the industry as things open up this year, and projections for the next three years are booming.
Paul DeLorenzo is the general manager of Danversport, an event venue with a 10,000 square meter ballroom with an enclosed terrace overlooking the water. Restaurants in the state have been open, with some restrictions, for several months. But events like this 900-seat hall could only seat 10 people.
“To me it’s crazy. I just went, wow, it hurts,” DeLorenzo said.
The governor’s reason for that was that you generally do not walk around hugging strangers at other tables in a restaurant. But people relax with family and friends at events like weddings.
It originally looked like 2020 would be their best year ever, DeLorenzo said, until the pandemic forced him to close.
“I had to be 220 employees,” he said. “And then we basically lost 85 percent of our business in 2020.”
Now he is excited to start hosting the event again, and he is hoping that the governor will soon increase the capacity limits.
It’s not just the places that have been damaged in the last year.
“Florists, deejays, bands, videographers, hair and makeup artists,” DeLorenzo said. “Sole proprietors who do not have the type to just lose a whole year of income. And not only do they lose the income, but for many of them they had taken large deposits that people wanted back.”
It has also been difficult for catering companies, such as Olive Chase, which owns The Casual Gourmet on Cape Cod. And while she is excited about ordering small weddings again, she says a large part of her business before the pandemic came from non-profit organizations and charities.
“All these galas we do and fundraisers – last year, canceled,” she said. “And then they started making them virtual.”
It is not clear when these incidents will happen in person again.