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Rug pulled out from under wedding season

“We've been saving for our wedding for so long and now we don't even know if we're going have it."
Nicole Ashley Photography
Wedding planner Sandra Cassios said weddings are a milestone event for couples and now many are left having to postpone their wedding date or elope without a big ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions. NICOLE ASHLEY PHOTOGRAPHY/Photo

Lauren Biggs has had to reschedule her wedding two times since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and still isn’t sure if she is going to be able to marry her high school sweetheart on her new wedding date in October.

Biggs and her fiancé Nickolas Parenteau planned on tying the knot on May 23. Once the pandemic struck, they had to move their wedding date to Aug. 1. But as COVID-19 continued to surge in the province, their event had to be cancelled and moved again to Oct. 3.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” Biggs said.

Last week, Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw recommended Albertans postpone weddings or other large gatherings planned for the next few months.

“I realize this is not welcome news and I share in your frustration of the situation. Believe me when I say I wish it were within my power to give everyone back the life they had three months ago,” said Hinshaw.

Biggs and Parenteau both lost their jobs due to the pandemic and the couple said they can’t move out into their own place now due to those job losses.

“We've been saving for years for our wedding. We just got engaged last year, but we're high school sweethearts," Biggs said.

“We've been saving for our wedding for so long and now we don't even know if we're going have it."

Biggs said she had to cancel her bachelorette party and bridal shower at the last minute because of the COVID-19 restrictions as well.

The couple picked their original May date to accommodate some grandparents who are getting older with some severe health problems. They invested around $20,000 in the wedding with 115 people expected to be in attendance. Biggs said when moving the wedding from May to August, their vendors were very accommodating and they didn’t lose too much money. But now having to move the date to October is a different story.

“This is the brutal part now. It's way harder (to move dates) than it was the first time because everyone's booking up and everyone is so uncertain about everything right now,” Biggs said.

The couple said their venue was free for the August date, but now booking in October they aren’t sure they can hold their wedding at the same location and may need to move the entire event.

Even if COVID-19 restriction persists into the fall, Biggs and Parenteau are going to get married this year, no matter what the circumstances.

“We are determined to get married this year. Absolutely determined no matter what. Even if we have to have a wedding of 15 and cut out 100 people – that'll be brutal, but we will do that,” Biggs said, adding they are very hopeful for October.

“The hardest part about all of it is just, I'm worried that I'm going to move everything to October and then it’s not going to happen,” Biggs said.

Other couples are not having an easy time rescheduling their events either.

Brittany White and her fiancé Patrick Le Breton have found themselves at risk of losing a $6,000 deposit on a venue they had picked out in B.C. for their planned July 18 wedding.

The venue won’t give the couple their deposit back, despite the contract stating they would refund if there was a national emergency, an act of God or if they couldn’t hold a wedding up to the venue's standard.

White, Le Breton and around 12 other couples have found themselves at risk of losing thousands and are considering a class action lawsuit. They are currently working with a lawyer to get their money back.

“Right now, they're actually trying to push us to do the wedding with all the restrictions in place," White said.

The venue is telling White to still host the 100 person wedding, with all the guests eating separately in their rooms. Everyone would have to remain two metres apart throughout the night and they couldn’t hold a dance.

The couple wants to postpone the event one year, due to the fact that White, who does eyelash extensions and brow microblading, can’t currently work and they need time to recoup some finances.

Aside from the venue, the rest of the vendors the couple has been working with have been very accommodating and have been working with them to postpone the event.

White said she isn’t upset about having to postpone the event for a year, but wanted to have another child, and said now that the wedding will have to be postponed, she will be postponing having another kid as well – the hardest part about delaying the event.

Sandra Cassios, who own a boutique wedding planning company, Sandra Bettina Weddings and Events, said weddings are supposed to be an event to celebrate couples' love, and missing out on that can be really hard.

“It's that once-in-a-lifetime event of feeling so special to celebrate your love and how often do you have everybody that's important in your life in one room, celebrating you and your love and your commitment?” Cassios said.

It can be really heartbreaking for couples to have to move their special day or postpone a full year before they can get married.

“A lot of couples just feel like the rug was pulled out from under them. And I think that we need to keep in mind that this is a very, very special day for people. And it's one that a lot of months – if not years – and a lot of investment has (gone) into.”

Cassios said typically it takes 12 to 18 months to plan a wedding, with regular meetings, and after such a massive investment of time and money, it can be hard to handle a cancellation emotionally.

Many of her clients are opting to have an elopement on their 2020 date and then celebrating a one-year vow renewal with a big event next year. Other couples she works with are just opting to wait a full year before getting married.

Cassios said many couples have had a special attachment to the date they had planned for their wedding and they may mourn losing the date.

Overall Cassios said vendors have been amazing at working with her clients to help them move their dates without losing too much money.

The wedding planner said for any couples that find themselves having to make arrangements to change their wedding plans, she recommends postponing and not cancelling. Cassios said to call the venue first and see what new dates are available.

Most importantly, Cassios suggested watching out for the potential impacts of stress on couples' relationships.

“Your love is not being cancelled or postponed. It's just the party that signifies that, so try not to fight with your partner that you're getting married to,” Cassios said.

“Still remember why you're there and your love isn't being postponed. It's just the day that you're celebrating, and be each other’s rock during this.”

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette and has been with Great West Media since 2015
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