Getting hitched just got harder thanks to COVID-19

For better or for worse, many couples won’t be holding weddings any time soon.

After declaring a provincial state of emergency on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced new event restrictions, limiting the number of attendees to 50.

The new rules will likely force Laurel Phillips and Trenton Broens to cancel their wedding, which is scheduled to take place in Edmonton on April 25.

The couple got engaged in October 2018 and booked venues for a 120-guest wedding early last year. 

Trenton Broens and Laurel Phillips’s wedding invitation. (Nick Ross)

The pair is already out about $9,000 and must now notify guests and postpone the event until a later date, likely in the fall. The couple has also cancelled their honeymoon — a month in Austria and eastern Europe — due to travel restrictions.

“We had all of the stress of the wedding without the wedding or the relaxation after!” said Broens in an interview Tuesday with CBC’s Radio Active.

Though disappointed, the couple is taking the news in stride. 

Some vendors have agreed to honour a later date. The news has also helped the pair put everything in perspective and determine which parts of their original plans are most important.

“The day’s going to happen, just not the way we planned,” Phillips said.

Wedding industry braces for more cancellations

People who work in the wedding industry are bracing for steep income losses as couples cancel large ceremonies and receptions.

“Things are looking a little bit dire at this point,” said Buffy Goodman, a photographer in Edmonton grappling with multiple cancellations already.

Goodman said weddings make up about 80 to 90 percent of her income.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will waive the one-week waiting period for employment insurance, but many workers in the wedding and events industries will not receive that support.

“I’m really hoping the government comes through for all of the freelance and contract workers who don’t qualify for EI,” she said.

Maggie Barton Baird, who owns the event planning company MB and Company, told CBC News that cancellations since Friday have cost her about one-third of her annual income.

The cancellations will cost couples as well, Baird said — about $15,000, which is roughly half the total cost of an average wedding in a Canadian city.

“Everyone’s scrambling,” she said. “My advice would be: be kind to everyone while you’re asking for money back because none of us have systems in place for this.”

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