Area businesses navigate a wedding season impacted by COVID19
vents canceled or postponed, flowers being destroyed because there’s no way to get them shipped, these are just some of the realities of running a business related to the wedding industry in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to The Knot, a popular wedding website, weddings cost an average of $33,900 in the U.S. last year. That included all expenses from the engagement ring, the ceremony, flowers, clothing and the reception. In total it is estimated that the U.S wedding industry brings in $72 billion in revenue.
Nevill’s Flowers, in Montoursville, a wedding venue and floral business, has seen cancellations due to the uncertainty of life in the pandemic.
“All of our events have either canceled or postponed. September events would be our first actual wedding or a party,” said Melissa Iseley, owner of Nevill’s.
“For the brides it definitely was a very difficult decision, but they have friends and family that are coming in from out of town and out of state and I actually have some that are coming in from out of the country. So, for them it was the decision of that they realized they would not be able to have (guests from) those areas that are becoming infected being able to travel this far,” she said.
As a supplier of flowers not only at their own venue, but also for weddings held elsewhere, Nevill’s has also seen that part of the business curtailed.
“Most definitely,” Iseley stated. “Basically from March until September, I have one person that’s still proceeding with her wedding here in June. They’re doing a backyard wedding and having just the very immediate family up to 25 of their local family members attending.”
With most brides opting to either postpone until fall or next year, Iseley sees a possible difficulty getting the flowers that a bride might want.
“There is definitely going to be an impact on needs come this fall when most everybody’s rescheduling. It’s going to be a higher demand of flowers and a higher demand of labor. Doing two or three or four weddings a weekend versus trying to dedicate to one or two,” Iseley said.
As a florist, she sees a definite crunch on expenses because of the lack of income now even though there will be an increase in business later. She explained that summer is usually one of the lower points of the seasons because everybody has outdoor activities or outdoor flowers.
“We don’t do as many floral sales through the summer. We rely on the weddings,” she added.
Iseley also noted that the pandemic has affected her supply chain when it comes to ordering flowers.
Although she admitted that she had not had difficulty getting flowers up to this point, she said that she orders far enough in advance so that she can rely on deliveries coming when they’re needed. She also noted that she had local resources available to pull from.
“However, that was before the
pandemic hit over across the seas where the other flowers are starting to be left in the fields because there’s not enough people to cut them. They’re becoming sick and ill themselves so they can cut the flowers. They’re dying in the fields so therefore they’re not getting on the ship into the place to come across,” she said.
Iseley said that this first came to light when one of her suppliers sent a video showing a giant parking lot full of tubs of flowers that were being dumped into a pile where a bulldozer scooped them up and threw them away.
“They couldn’t get them shipped across the seas,” she said.
For Carl Gaskins, owner of Colony Classics, there has been little disruption in his business on the wedding side, because as a supplier of formal wear and dresses for mothers of the bride and groom, his merchandise can be purchased or rented closer to the date of an event.
In business for 37 years, Gaskins has seen a trend to a more casual atmosphere for weddings even before the pandemic.
“We would run six to eight weddings a weekend just in May alone. We would do all the prom kids and we would have all the weddings on top of that. Our May used to be really hectic,” Gaskins said.
“Over the years, that business has shifted and more people want a summer wedding into the fall. Fall has become the bigger wedding time of year it seems,” he added.
Gaskins noted that a few weddings had to change the date of the event due to the restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend, but once Colony Classics could open, customers began booking for July, August and September.
Where the business really saw a decline was in tuxedo rentals due to proms being canceled.
“We had a couple of May weddings that fell apart because they couldn’t do anything. A couple of guys came in to order suits and those orders couldn’t go through because nobody was open, everything was shut down. So at that point they were going to be changing everything anyways,” Gaskins said.
“For me it wasn’t a drastic number,” he added.