Coronavirus restrictions can’t stop the wedding industry from spreading the love
Chelsea Venettacci and Peter Beis just want to get married but it’s been a moving feast, thanks to coronavirus restrictions.
So far this year they’ve had three different dates set for their big day, which is getting smaller by the week, as the COVID-19 pandemic waxes and wanes.
“I just can’t wait to marry him, I just can’t wait to start that chapter in our lives … it is such a special time in my life that I’ve always dreamt of, so the fact that we’ve had to postpone it is quite heartbreaking,” said Ms Venettacci.
“We come from a pretty big family on both sides and I know that it’s such an exciting ceremony for both parents and relatives,” she said.
“They’ve watched our love grow and to have to postpone it was quite challenging for them,” she said.
Initially, the couple had planned to tie the knot in March with 150 guests — 40 from interstate — but, as coronavirus infections and public health restrictions increased, they decided to wait until November.
“We thought surely coronavirus would be gone by then, everyone was saying the same thing, and then it got to a couple of months ago and I thought, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be over,’ and then Melbourne had their outbreak,” she said.
“We said, ‘You know what, we just want to marry each other, at the end of the day it’s about us and what we want to do,’ and we just want to start that chapter of our lives together, so we’ve brought it forward to September 20.”
It means their plans have had to be modified, while also including family from interstate.
“Pete’s grandparents were going to be there and that would be so special to have them there to see us get married so, yeah, we’re going to have the livestreaming, ensuring they can still be a part of it,” Ms Venettacci said.
“Next year we are going to do a celebration with the relatives that couldn’t come — which is annoying because it’s extra time and money but we just want them to have a nice celebration with us.”
The COVID-19 restrictions at venues have also been disappointing.
“That’s probably the biggest bummer with this wedding — all we want to do is dance and celebrate and forget about everything that’s happened this year, and we just find it quite controversial that dancing is not allowed,” she said.
“We’re hoping that by September 20 it’s a bit lenient and we’re able to.”
‘Elopement’ weddings taking off
Smaller, more intimate weddings were a trend Kate Tuleja saw coming.
The wedding photographer and owner of Wilderness Weddings Tasmania said her elopement and micro-wedding business is going from strength to strength.
“We’re all about taking people out into the wilderness and sharing the Tasmanian outdoors with people in a really beautiful, simple ceremony,” she said.
“This is a relatively new business anyway, it’s all developing through the pandemic, but in the last few months we’ve had an influx of local people who’ve either cancelled bigger weddings or have decided not to go down that route and instead decided to take the elopement pathway instead.
“[Also] a lot of interstate inquiries, that are tentative inquiries only while the border situation keeps changing.
“We initially set up to attract people who didn’t necessarily feel like a big, traditional wedding was their style, they were looking for something different.
“Now, as it turns out, there are a lot more people looking in that direction, either because they don’t have a choice and they just want to get married right now, or they’ve had their eyes opened to a few different possibilities and thought, ‘actually, that sounds more like me.'”
Ms Tuleja says despite the trying times, people in the industry are supporting each other.
“One of my celebrants has had something along the lines of 25 cancellations this year and early next year and so, with people moving to elopements, I’ve actually been able to go back to her and give her some work to make up for what she’s losing.
“We are able to share the love around and people in the industry are able to still do what they love, so it’s been really nice to share with everybody when everybody’s been really struggling with their own businesses.”
Hits felt industry-wide
Sally Van Dyken has run a bridal boutique in Hobart for 42 years and believes the pandemic is affecting every part of the bridal industry.
“Being in the industry that long, I’ve seen recessions, I’ve seen a lot of different things, and I’ve never — you couldn’t compare this year with anything else and every business would be the same, I feel,” she said.
“I would say that the reception centres would be finding it difficult. For example, we had a wedding that was going to be this November — 150 guests, DJ, the whole thing — at a very big venue.
“Now, [the department of public health] has said they can’t dance, so they’ve decided to put it off to next year for that reason, they said, ‘We’ve paid a lot of money for the reception and we would like to at least be able to have a dance at our wedding.'”
Shelly Bickerstaff from Frogmore Creek vineyard and restaurant said they would normally do one or two weddings a weekend through their “season” from October to April, but many marriages have been postponed.
She said they’ve had to adapt their business model.
“Because of the COVID restrictions that are in place, we do need to adapt the way that we facilitate it, particularly dancing, so that’s a big consideration for people who are preparing to spend money on their dream wedding but not be able to have the dream experience,” she said.
“The way that service needs to happen now is everyone needs to have a seat, we need to do individual plates of canapes rather than serve off a canape tray, so we’re looking at how we can deliver that casual glass of sparkling experience without [breaching restrictions], so that’s been a challenge.
“I think that we can still create a great experience but it certainly does change the vibe and until the rules are that you can stand around with your friends and have a drink and a dance, it does change the experience.”
Ms Venettacci agreed that current weddings won’t be the same as those in past years.
“Weddings that we’ve been to, we’ve just had fun, let our hair down, danced, no such thing as social distancing.
“But now, with canapes and stuff we do have to be seated now, which I think really does change the dynamic of everything.
“My cousin was meant to get married a week after me but she had to pull the pin and get married earlier, only had five people invited, and I have a few other people I know who have said, ‘Let’s just have a small wedding.’
“It’s funny how something like coronavirus makes you realise what’s important and what the wedding is all about.”