HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The majority of April to mid-May weddings in Central PA have been canceled, drastically reduced in size or rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Suzie Henning and Travis Smith “saved the date” for May 23, 2020.
“It started off with thoughts of, ‘oh geez, I hope this doesn’t affect our honeymoon,’ and then that quickly evolved into, ‘I hope we have a wedding,” said Henning.
They booked their venue, the Rock Garden at Hotel Hershey, a year and a half in advance.
No one could have guessed: the coronavirus pandemic would rattle the globe.
While Henning is from Hershey, Smith is from California. They invited 150 guests from across the country.
“It kind of came to a point where it wouldn’t be a safe thing to continue with the wedding,” said Smith.
The two would know first hand how important social distancing is. They’re both residents at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
So last week, the couple decided to reschedule.
“There was a lot of tears a lot of stress and anxiety, but honestly when we made the decision, it was oddly comforting,” said Henning.
Henning and Smith worked with their wedding planner, Susan Moran of That’s It! Wedding Concepts, to switch the date to August 1.
Moran says she’s talked with about 75 different vendors, and most are not charging for changes.
“The generosity and the speediness, all the good things that I’ve experienced with vendors for our common clients hasn’t surprised me, but it’s really been awesome,” said Moran. “It’s just been phenomenal. Here in South Central PA, we are second to none in what the wedding industry can and does do.”
Now, venues, photographers, florists, caterers, bands and DJs are all lining up new dates.
“Once we’re let loose on the world again, because of what we’ve all endured together, I think the celebration is going to kick into a higher gear than it ever has before,” said Moran.
Henning and Smith have been together four and a half years, and while they just can’t wait to be married, they will wait, for a few more months.
“Our priority is the health and safety of our guests,” said Henning.
“I think overall, we’re making a good decision with what we’re doing,” said Smith.
Some couples are of rescheduling their weddings without a professional planner, so Moran shared some tips.
Moran says the initial response she’s received from most couples is a lot of emotion: people have put months of years work and hope into something and have no control that it isn’t happening anymore.
She says you can control how you approach things moving forward, so after giving yourself time and taking a breath, get to work.
Begin by communicating with your partner, family and wedding party.
Next, reach out to your venue to find out what available dates exist.
Many places are adding protocols and procedures to help make switches easier.
After that, reach out to your team of vendors, including caterers, florists, photographers, bands, DJs, etc. and figure out who can and who can’t make your new date.
Lastly, contact all of your guests.
Moran recommends sending out an official new invitation.
“That’s important for two reasons. Number one: it kind of puts some closure on the former date and it gets everyone excited about the new date, and the second thing is: it has to serve as a vehicle for getting responses just like the initial invitation did,” said Moran.
Moran says if you have room blocks associated with your wedding, the people who made the reservations must be the ones to call and cancel. She adds that local hotels have been fantastic in pulling together new room blocks.