Four days. That is what we will always remember. It was the week after the wedding expo, our moms had come to visit and help with the kids and they were traveling home. The warning signs were out there, people were starting to get increasingly nervous, but nothing concrete had happened. It only took 4 days. From Thursday-Sunday Taylor's husband was unemployed, postponements were in full effect, school was being cancelled and people were panic purchasing toilet paper in bulk. It went from 0-100 with what felt like no time to prepare. That's why we call it Crazy COVID-19. It is just all so crazy and getting crazier and crazier! Our hearts yearn for those who are sick, working on the front lines (healthcare workers, we see you!) people who are quarantined alone during this time, those with compromised immune systems, those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, those who are unemployed with mouths to feed, and the list goes on.
As many know, we live on a small island called the Outer Banks of NC. An island whose economy thrives on tourism and tourism alone. Our little stretch of sand is filled with mom and pop hotels, small businesses galore, locally owned restaurants, boutiques, in home daycares, fitness studios, ice cream shops - all of these have their own unique stories and none of them with a corporate background. The reason people come back every year and hit those same spots they love is for this reason. Because for many, it gives off that feeling of home away from home. You cross the bridge and feel yourself relax, because you're home, but without all the hustle and bustle. You go back to the same restaurants, to eat your favorite meals, to say hi to the same bartender and catch up. We are a close knit community and we welcome you with open arms, every. single. year.
There is not one single person we know that won't be brutally affected financially by COVID-19 and we felt the need to update anyone who'd like to know the island's current restrictions, what is happening in the wedding world, and how it's affected us and our business personally. We have promised to let our babes deeper into our personal world in 2020, and it looks like this virus is about to rip us wide open and show us what we're made of.
OUTER BANKS: As of 3/23/20 the bridges are only open to residents. No tourists or homeowners. You have to live here to come on the island and they also started doing checkpoints. Schools will remain closed to in-person instruction through at least May 15th, and all non-essential businesses are closed. Restaurants are open for take out only, but many have opted to close altogether. People are urged to stay home, and only go out for needed supplies (gas, groceries, etc.)
WEDDING WORLD: As of now the Centers for Disease Control has advised against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks (all of April and beginning of May). The agency said it was warning against large events and mass gatherings that include "conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies." Our clients that are within this range are working on postponing, and our clients briefly outside the range are holding strong on their dates until further guidance is given. For OBX wedding vendors we normally see two lucrative wedding seasons (Apr-June and Sept-Nov) with most of our weddings taking place during these time periods. The main concern for wedding vendors right now is losing that entire first season and how and when rescheduling will be able to happen. With most people hoping to reschedule within the same calendar year, we run into venues/dates being booked already, not all vendors being available for a specific day, and of course the unknown of clients changing their date and then the restrictions continuing on for longer than everyone hoped.
OUR FAMILIES: Fingers crossed the 7 of us are all currently healthy which is our absolute main priority. We have 3 little ones 5 and under between us and as any mother reading this knows that keeping them healthy is all that matters. Taylor's husband is unfortunately unemployed and Samantha's husband is working remotely. We are all staying home and only going out for the essentials and are home with our kids pretty much full time while we try to keep our work schedule as normal as possible and be available to our couples when needed. We are choosing to have contact with each other, but that is all.
THE BIZ: Our baby, who is about to turn 4, is definitely going to go through some growing pains with this one. If you do not know, the pricing structure for many wedding vendors, us included, goes like this: 50% of the total package amount upfront, with the remaining 50% due 30 days before the event date. So, if you can do math you'll realize all the final payments for our upcoming 1st season that we were so eagerly waiting on we will most likely not receive. This is happening for all vendors coming off of our 'off season' when we do little to no business whatsoever. We are likely to receive second deposit amounts at a further date (if the wedding is postponed and not cancelled) which is starting to look like it will be this Fall or next Spring 2021. The main issue from a business standpoint (other than the countless hours that goes into rescheduling all of the vendors for these weddings) is that the new dates will take away future prime dates that we were likely to book additional business on. The only way for us to bring additional income in right now is to book future weddings, so 2021 babes if you didn't think you needed a planner before, we sure hope you do now!
Above all, we are extremely empathetic towards our couples. As planners that specialize in full service wedding planning, we have worked with these couples for usually right around a year. We have dreamt up every aspect of their weddings alongside them, worked with every vendor, got to know them on a personal level and we were literally weeks away from bringing it all to life. Though postponements are inevitable, we are here to make the process easier on them by taking over that workload so they can have time to process how emotional changing your wedding date can be. We are confident that these weddings will happen, and when they do it will be just a little bit sweeter for them to finally celebrate alongside the ones they love most.
Lastly, our island is resilient, we are resilient, and we will recover from this. #weareinthistogether
Sending everyone health and positive vibes!