Weddings in the time of COVID-19

The pandemic is prompting postponement of some weddings in Jackson Hole, but vendors say people are rescheduling for later this year.

Here come the brides ... but exactly when?

While efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus have already forced temporary closure of shops and restaurants, people in the Tetons wedding industry are keeping an eye out for what will happen in late spring and then the summer.

Vendors say they still have nuptial parties on the books, but, naturally, couples whose big event is around the corner are on edge. In a few cases they’re changing the dates.

“We really don’t know what to tell people,” said Vanessa Flory, owner of the floral design shop Fleur de V. “When things are going to pick up is the question.”

One positive side of the situation is that stay-at-home mode in Jackson Hole is now coinciding with the offseason, and some vendors don’t have weddings on the calendar until later in May.

“I feel we are somewhat sheltered being here in Jackson Hole,” said wedding planner Lisa Mack of Lisa Mack Events. “We’re lucky, I think, based on how the timing is shaking out.”

Another positive is that the crisis is encouraging various vendors to be flexible.

“If weddings are postponed the vendors can find ways to still work with them,” Flory said. “That’s good for everyone.”

Bistro Catering, part of the Fine Dining Restaurant Group, is dealing with some of the pandemic fallout.

“We have seen weddings canceled and several rescheduled for later on in the year,” wrote Fine Dining’s communications director, Kendra Alessandro, in an email. “We are offering our clients (weddings and private events) the ability to cancel their event for no fee. We usually require a deposit for all events, but we decided early on to waive that deposit so cancellations are at no cost to the host.”

Cara Rank, creative director at XOWYO Paper Press, formed a private Facebook called Jackson Wedding Creatives for Jackson Hole wedding-related businesses to share information during the contagion crisis. (If you’re a legit vendor and haven’t received an invitation you can send a friend request.)

Her August and September wedding invitations are about to go to press, she said, “and the feeling is those [events] will go on as planned.”

But the community is seeing some May and June weddings being pushed back to September, October and December.

“People are starting to look at backup options,” Mack said. “We are communicating with vendors to say, ‘If we did have to reschedule, what dates are available.’ I think it makes the brides feel better to have a Plan B.”

Flory told one bride who is getting married here this summer to take it day by day and not let herself become overwhelmed. Mack, too, is providing a lot of moral support to her wedding parties.

“I’m trying to keep them hopeful,” Mack said. “Most of the brides I’ve talked to don’t want to postpone until 2021, which is good for everybody.”

Seeing a need, and an opportunity, to promote Jackson Hole’s wedding-related businesses, Rank is putting together a list of local vendors to put on her website.

Weddings are a big industry in Jackson. The businesses include mobile bathroom providers, venues, tailors and seamstresses, transportation companies, florists, hair and makeup artists, stationery providers, hotels, musicians, photographers, tent providers, lighting specialists, videographers, cake artists, caterers, officiants, and suppliers of tables, chairs, glassware, linens and cutlery.

“I’d really like to push using local creatives for weddings,” Rank said.

She’s seen wedding parties come to the Tetons with outside planners, florists, and hair and makeup artists.

“They’re using our local resources for their wedding, but not a lot of local creatives,” she said. “That’s a lot of revenue that’s not staying in our community.”

Beyond what’s happening now, businesses are looking to next year.

“The important thing now is to book a strong 2021 to make up for losses” in 2020, Rank said.

And so far it looks like today’s pandemic isn’t putting a dent in hopes and plans for next year’s weddings.

“I just got three inquiries for 2021 this past week,” Mack said.

“I just booked two weddings,” Rank said.

Contact Jennifer Dorsey at jennifer@jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5908.

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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