Planning a wedding can be stressful at best – minus a global pandemic.
With an ever smaller number of people admitted to non-essential meetings, future brides and grooms were left groping.
Amidst fears of spreading the coronavirus en masse, couples were forced to make the heartbreaking decision to postpone, cancel or soldier with what was to be the happiest day of their lives.
For a Western Sydney couple, that decision is still pending – and $ 100,000 hangs in the balance.
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Dina, 26, and her boyfriend Chafic, 28, were to get married on June 7th.
The couple planned the wedding for 15 months. All sellers are booked, her high fashion dress just needs some finishing touches and if the event continues as planned, the couple would pay $ 48,000 for their reception alone.
“If we go ahead with it, the cost of the combined wedding and honeymoon would reach $ 100,000,” says the bride.
This includes the European honeymoon of their dreams – which they have already paid in full.
“Flights, accommodation, everything. That’s about $ 20,000 in total, “said Dina.
Now trapped in an intricate network of travel bans, Emirates offers to credit its flights and the couple’s travel agent has said that some hotels may be willing to refund.
But at this stage, there are no guarantees.
“Most of my sellers have been fantastic. They said we can put it off for free, “explained Dina.
“But in terms of recovery of deposits, each supplier is different. I haven’t asked this question yet, because we don’t really want to cancel. It is literally a once in a lifetime thing to do. “
Family and friends have promised to support whatever decision they make, but Dina says it is “highly unlikely” that they end up canceling.
“We could lose deposits. And then if we decided to get married later, I would have to plan the whole wedding from scratch again. But then the question is: how long do we postpone? Because if we have to wait another year, I don’t know if we can to do it. “
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For this young and in love couple, their future is now uncertain.
“The thought of having to wait another full year to get married and start our life … Bring back our travel plans, put the children back, put everything back.”
Dina and Chafic had 470 guests to attend their June wedding.
With the Prime Minister applying stricter social removal measures, Dina says they would not be able to downsize even if they wanted to. “We can’t have only 100 people at our wedding because our venue is huge. We would be out of pocket $ 30,000. And they wouldn’t book your wedding if you didn’t have a minimum of 350 guests.”
Aside from all the logistics, the future bride says that the atmosphere at their wedding would surely be sad if they went on.
“It will be in the back of everyone’s mind. Everyone will be tired, nobody will embrace or dance. There would be none of this.
“I feel less and less optimistic every day.”
Over a dozen family members were planning to travel to Australia from abroad (mainly from America).
Now, it is impossible to do.
In an attempt to stop the spread and curb the global number of virus cases, the government closed Australia’s borders with foreigners last night.
The Sydney photographer Henryk – the brain behind Image Haus – was among those who hurried home. He flew back from New Zealand last night after filming a wedding for a couple who had moved the date forward.
“On the day New Zealand said it would close the borders within 24 hours, I got a call from the bride saying,” Hey, we’ll either cancel or fly everyone early. “
Henryk didn’t think twice.
He and the videographer jumped on a flight the next morning. “Both of us literally, at the last minute, when a hat fell, we changed everything and flew out. I didn’t have the luxury of disappointing a customer. “
The couple’s wedding went on – their original guest list of 60 has now shrunk to 35 – but on the same day she couldn’t escape the virus.
“On the wedding day, the driver of the rental car tested positive for the coronavirus,” said Henryk.
But he found the atmosphere rather optimistic, all things considered.
“Everyone was still hugging and kissing the bride,” he said.
“They actually had a game, where if someone mentioned the word coronavirus or COVID-19 or pandemic, they have to drink three fingers of their drink,” he laughed. “Everyone had fun, had a fantastic evening.”
His clients’ weddings usually outnumber over 100 guests on average. However, Henryk insists, “I have not seen anyone downsize it. Everyone has moved the date.
“All the weddings I have until June are changing their dates. Everyone is looking to book September, October, November. Some people even moved in 2021. And of course, I didn’t charge anything for the move, “he explained.
Henryk, who is now making all his meetings with FaceTime and WhatsApp, has blocked an influx of reservations while couples hurry to set a new date.
“Just in the last week I have had four reservations. Paid and confirmed. So now I’m starting to organize weddings on Friday.”
His advice to couples considering referral is simple: do it sooner rather than later.
“If you can’t get the desired date, consider a wedding on a Friday or Sunday. And when you return, start with your venue and then quickly go through the rest of your suppliers. Because the dates are booked so quickly.”
Clothes are also a problem for some.
Brides promptly pay out thousands for a high fashion dress signed by the Petersham-based designer Leah Da Gloria, who has spent the last few days reassuring some very anxious brides.
“We had three months of customers who had to reprogram,” he said.
“For us, it’s more about redistributing our production schedule, but everyone is still getting married. Some people are downsizing – instead of having 300 people now they have 90-80 people. But I think the couples themselves are probably in a worse position. our.
“I have already contacted all my customers to make sure they are well and this is my main goal.”
Not unrelated to a large ethnic marriage, Leah Da Gloria predicts that the new restrictions on social distancing could be a problem.
“Weddings are like people’s biggest day and my clients in particular tend to have really big weddings. It’s a very familiar event and they have huge families – by the hundreds – so the thought of scaling down from 500 to 80 people is unthinkable. it’s not even a wedding for them. It’s a Sunday barbecue. “
Does your advice to couples face a touch decision? “Postpone, don’t cancel. And resize if you can.”
With growing virus cases in Australia and elsewhere, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly warned Australians to observe social exclusion measures wherever possible.
On Friday, the PM announced new space restrictions, stating that there will be a maximum limit of “four square meters provided per person in an enclosed space”.
The new measures could see weddings, birthday parties and other mass-canceled personal events.
And in the world of marriage, most sellers already feel the tension.
A number of major wedding halls in Australia have detailed COVID-19 policies on their websites. Navarra, the industry’s leading venue in Sydney, which organizes weddings with over 500 guests, has already decided to postpone book events until April 13, 2020.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and employees have always been and will remain our top priority,” said Navarra Venues in a statement.
“We will contact all of our customers individually and will do our best to satisfy our customers who have pre-existing reservations during this one-month phase.”
Earlier this year, the iconic venue hosted this season’s wedding Married at first sight Elizabeth and Sebastian couple.
Despite the growing number of restrictions that force people to put it off, most suppliers remain optimistic.
“I hope it will be nothing more than a technical problem; a bump, not a stop sign,” said Leah Da Gloria.
Others are preparing for the worst.
“I think the whole world will have bleeding for at least six months after this,” said Henryk.
“Everyone will participate together and we will all bleed together. But customers, suppliers … I think it will affect everyone.”