FARGO — Businesses in the wedding and events industry were ramping up for wedding season, normally the busiest time of year, as spring rolled around. But instead of prepping for their clients’ big days, vendors and venues have been rescheduling their ever-shuffling calendars.
Social distancing guidelines have halted weddings and events nationwide.
At least 50 events at Sanctuary Events Center in downtown Fargo have been affected so far. Kayla Cash, director of sales, said they were the most booked they'd ever been since opening three years ago.
“It’s a bummer that we can't get those events in and really start out the year so strong,” Cash said.
With all April, and most likely May, events postponed, Cash’s days have been spent rescheduling clients.
“I kind of feel like I'm playing chess with the calendar, moving people around,” Cash said. “But so far, we've been really lucky to get everyone rescheduled that we need to.”
Still, shifting the schedule doesn’t come without a financial dent.
“As a venue, we're going to lose out on being able to book something else had we had the event right now; it’s just taking up another day of inventory,” she said.
But it’s more than just the venue for clients, Cash said. “There’s just so many pieces to the puzzle.”
Brittany Walsh, wedding photographer and owner of Two Birds Photography, added a new page to her website dedicated to people who have to postpone their weddings.
Walsh has had two spring brides reschedule for the fall, and has two more looking at new dates. Another bride’s venue closed for two months.
“These June brides, they don't know what to do, because they don't know if regulations are going to change, if people are still going to be able to travel, if they should just call it now and hurry up and try to find a new date before all these other brides who are rescheduling,” Walsh said.
Walsh is navigating the uncharted waters with her clients. As of now, her business is OK from a financial standpoint. There hasn’t been a huge loss of income, but if a lot of her June bookings are rescheduled, it may start to get kind of sketchy, she said.
“I’m pretty much booked for 2020. I took a lot of weddings,” she said. “So the dates that I have for them to reschedule for, there aren't too many of them. In the event some of my brides reschedule for a date I’m not available for, then my associate shooters are going to shoot that wedding for me.”
Walsh, who lives in Fergus Falls, Minn., has been encouraging everyone to postpone instead of cancel.
“We have a really amazing wedding vendor community,” she said. “It's kind of a Midwestern nice thing. We all truly do care about our clients and all the work and money they’re putting into planning this day.”
Christy Tehven, owner of Love Always Floral, said she's cruising along and doing the best with what she can.
“Our heart just goes out to (the couples) with the stress that they have to endure with all this going on,” Tehven said. “Trying to be as accommodating as possible.”
A florist who works on a lot of weddings, Tehven’s business was supposed to be blooming right now.
“We were on a lower cash end in the April-May timeframe, and so now it’s just getting extended, which is I think tough for a lot of seasonal, especially wedding-focused, businesses,” Tehven said.
Love Always Floral hasn’t ceased operations, and has been doing daily, no-contact deliveries, an avenue that has been busier than normal.
“That’s been a really wonderful bright spot for our company, because the community has been so kind and so generous,” Tehven said. “It’s created a lot of hope for me as a person to see people spreading joy to others and supporting local.”
Maintaining some operational normalcy with the deliveries has allowed her to keep her team going while having some cash flow come in.
Downtown Fargo bridal store Your Day by Nicole has also kept its doors open, but not all the way.
The store, now by appointment-only, has been cleaning, sanitizing and keeping numbers down by limiting the number of guests allowed at bridal appointments or alterations.
Some people have canceled their appointments, but for the most part, they’ve been kept, which is why the store hasn’t shut its doors, owner Nicole Gruchow said.
“We’re not really putting things on the back burner,” Gruchow said. “We're pushing ahead and trying to work ahead so that we can be prepared, so when we do have normal business hours, we’re here and ready to go.”
The store's brides have had at least one silver lining during this time of uncertainty. Everything has been shipping ahead of time with no delays, Gruchow said.
“There’s fear in the bride's head when they lay down at night about the dress arriving on time,” she said. “We have brides that were told their dress wasn't going to ship until May that are arriving now.”