Navigating weddings amid the coronavirus pandemic

Getting married can be one of the biggest moments of people’s lives. But even weddings aren’t immune to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has impacted almost every part of our lives, including our future plans. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS talked to an engaged couple as they work to reschedule their wedding day, and got tips from a Minnesota-based wedding expert on how to walk this tricky tightrope together.

"We are angry at the situation, but you don’t really have anyone to direct that anger toward," said Minneapolis resident and bride-to-be MacKenzie Knapp.

"We are playing the waiting game right now. It sucks, but it is something we have to deal with now … it’s just all up in the air because we know that the State keeps changing requirements, the regulations, the executive orders on how they’re treating this," added Knapp’s fiancé, Sam Evans.

It’s a tough game to play.

Knapp and Evans planned on walking down the aisle in Minnesota on May 2, 2020, with 150 of their family and friends. They were engaged in New York while on vacation. Evans said he never imagined what they’re experiencing now, as the coronavirus takes their love story on a chaotic ride.

This engaged couple has to juggle re-planning their wedding while keeping in mind the safety and health of their loved ones amid COVID-19.

"It’s hard because this is changing day-to-day, with the CDC recommendations, federal guidelines, state guidelines, on what an appropriate gathering looks like, and are your guests able to adequately social distance at your event," Knapp said.

It’s not just the engaged couples going through challenges. Whether it’s the DJ, the venue, photographer or florist, small businesses are also feeling the pain.

Full KSTP COVID-19 coverage

Ashley Hawks, CEO of Minnesota-based Forever Bride, said: "The wedding industry is taking a huge hit. It’s primarily made of small, independent businesses, and so this is a time that we’ve never been through, there’s a lot of uncertainty."

That said, Hawks said while each vendor is unique the businesses she’s working with do want to help engaged couples have the wedding of their dreams.

"If they could offer a refund, that would be great, but at the same time we don’t want to take anything away from them," said Evans.

It’s a tough tightrope to walk.

"Each venue is so different, each business is so different," Hawks said.

Hawks explained engaged couples should know there are still options. They can have a virtual wedding, with just the couple and a few other people, and broadcast it to their extended family and friends.

Or, "If they really want a specific time of year, say, you know, the beginning of fall, and all of those Saturdays are booked, take a look at a Friday evening or a Sunday afternoon," she said.

Hawks recommended staying in communication with your wedding vendors.

"Sending a nasty email or demanding money back isn’t going to get you anywhere, but being able to say, ‘Hey, what are our options,’ you know, ‘What’s plan A, what’s plan B, what’s plan C?’"

As for possible refunds: "There are a lot of variables that go into these non-refundable deposits," Hawks said. "They are non-refundable for a couple of reasons. What they’re providing is not just the service the day of the wedding, they’ve spent hours working with the couple, meeting with the couple, creating a custom ceremony."

But there could be some wiggle room.

"A lot of the time, we don’t spend enough time going through those contracts, and contracts are negotiable, none of us have been through anything like this, and I think there has to be some leeway on both sides," she added.

Knapp and Evans hope they can figure out when and how they’ll say "I do."

Forever Bride is a free social platform for engaged couples to connect with businesses and others who are getting married in the area. Right now, it’s waiving membership fees for wedding vendors because of the coronavirus.