Amie Polman, a nurse at an Orange County nursing home, is used to feeling in control, but the coronavirus has thrown her for a loop, upending a year’s worth of planning she invested into her springtime wedding.
The business and social restrictions caused by the global pandemic have had a major impact on weddings and other special events that couples and vendors pour vast amounts of time, energy and money into making a perfect celebration.
Since January of 2019, Polman, 32, has been planning her wedding to her fiancÚ of three years, Ralph Rivera, 43.
They were going to get married on May 16 in a church surrounded by 120 family and friends. They planned for a simple post-wedding getaway instead of an extravagant honeymoon so they could save for the house they planned to break ground on this spring.
Polman was able to enjoy her bridal shower on March 1 before the coronavirus outbreak brought everything to a halt.
Scrapping plans so close to the wedding date was crushing for her.
“I just felt like everything was crumbling down,” Polman said. “But I gave myself a few days to reground myself and say, ‘There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing you can control. Just go with the flow.’”
As a nurse, she knows the risks are particularly high for some of her most important guests, like her 88-year-old grandfather. Keeping her family and friends safe at her wedding is her main priority.
She hopes it will be safe to have her wedding on her new date in November.
“Luckily, I was able to secure a date that worked in everyone’s favor because I know that is not the case for some people,” Polman said, noting none of the vendors she was working with charged extra for the postponement.
Business and sympathy
The Bonura Hospitality Group that typically hosts 600 weddings a year at four venues in Orange and Dutchess counties similarly strives to be sympathetic to clients forced to move their wedding dates.
Michael Bonura, one of the company’s owners, said they are offering full refunds for cancellations, and postponement without penalty, for weddings between now and May 15.
If the wedding date is later, couples can still reschedule but cancellations will not be fully refunded.
Maria Krein, owner of the small wedding planning business Adventure Elopements of the Hudson Valley, is giving full refunds for cancellations.
But the vendors’ sympathy comes at a price.
Bonura Hospitality Group has laid off more than 500 employees during the pandemic and has lost more than $1 million.
“We realize that people have been planning this day for over a year in a lot of cases, and to have to make all these changes out of no fault of their own, or our own, is incredibly stressful,” Bonura said. “We are trying to be here for all the wedding couples affected to help as best we can.”
Krein, who is in the first year of launching her business, expected to coordinate 10 or more intimate weddings this year. Krein had five clients before the coronavirus outbreak. Only one of them is sticking with wedding plans for late August and three have been fully refunded by Krein, which amounts to about $2,500 for initial phase deposits.
“I did what I felt was fair in my eyes,” Krein said. “... because I feel like no one can control this and no one wants this.”
Polman said having the ability to reschedule her wedding without penalty from vendors relieved a great amount of stress that she’s under, both personally and professionally.
“Now, when the wedding actually comes, I can actually enjoy the weeks leading up to it and not have this sense of fear and panic and just an uneasiness of what was going to happen,” Polman said.
She believes everything happens for a reason, including the circumstances that have turned her and Rivera’s wedding plans upside down.
Perhaps, she said, this experience will have made their relationship stronger in the end.