San Diego in considered by many to a be a wedding destination city. In normal times, wedding season would be in full swing, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, weddings, even in churches, are not allowed under state health orders.
Wedding planners are hoping weddings can resume under California's Phase 3 reopening.
“At a certain point, it's not worth the stress of traveling and having to deal with. I don't want to risk anyone's health,” said Jessica Bittman.
Planning a wedding had been stressful, and on top of that Bittman is a pediatric nurse.
She and her fiancé Gino decided two weeks before their May 16, 2020 wedding date in Vista to move their big day to October 4, 2020.
“We sent out a change the date,” said Bittman.
Jessica is one of hundreds of couples having to cancel or postpone their wedding in San Diego County.
“I mean, just us running two venues in downtown, San Diego I've had 84 groups from March 16 through July move out,” said Amanda McPhail, owner of Creative Affairs Inc.
She said not only is the virus stressful for brides, but devastating the $72 billion-dollar wedding industry in the U.S. There are vendors such as florists, DJ’s, caterers, and photographers who have been impacted - including their employees and assistants behind the scenes.
“There's no words for it. I'm at a loss,” said McPhail. "It’s really impacting starting from the top and trickling down in every level."
This was expected to be a banner year for weddings, because according to planners, millennials were drawn to the number 2020.
“In 2018, I was booking 2020. People were about particular dates like 10-10-20, 07-11-20, 04-25-20,” said McPhail.
“The results of the study were pretty shocking and not very good outlook for the actual event industry,” said Wayne Labush, managing partner, Event Services Group.
Planners hope in California weddings will be allowed by August.
For couples who have to postpone their Saturday wedding, many are finding that Thursday, Friday or Sunday may be a better option.
However, some couples on a budget are hesitant about spending the average $40,000 on a wedding that wouldn’t have dancing, pricier table service instead of buffets, masks and temperature checks.
“Is it something where guests have to sign waivers as they enter a venue? There's all these new territories that we've never had to cross,” said McPhail.
Instead of bubbles, wine glasses or plants, couples can swap for masks or hand sanitizer as a wedding favor.
Bittman said she is still taking it all in.
“Honestly, I haven't even thought about it. I don't know if we have to make it smaller. I can't imagine. Having masks for everyone. It just seems crazy,” said Bittman. “I feel like if you do postpone you get more relief. You can let the excitement begin."
A spokesperson for Governor Newsom said there is not specific guidance on weddings at this point. Information is available on what’s permitted per stage here.
The San Diego County downtown office will open on Monday, June 1. You still need to book an appointment for marriage services.
Full Interview with Amanda McPhail: