VALDOSTA – Kameron Coggins and Cody Harwell were ready to say “I do” Saturday, March 28, a date they began planning for a year ago.
But like many others have come to realize, the COVID-19 outbreak can change even the best laid plans.
“Sunday, March 15, I was still thinking we were going to be able to have the wedding,” Coggins said.
With 530 guests invited and more than 25 in the wedding party alone, the couple and their families thought, at first, maybe, they could just scale it back and make it smaller.
As Coggins and her family discussed having a smaller wedding, she said President Donald Trump came on TV and advised against gatherings of 10 or more people.
“I was in shock,” Coggins said. “I just have to keep telling myself this is God’s plan.”
As couples are postponing and rescheduling their special day, wedding vendors are learning to navigate the new landscape.
Lindsay Colson of Capture By Colson Photography had been booked to shoot the Coggins/Harwell wedding but they aren’t her only clients to postpone.
“So far, I’ve had to reschedule two in April and one in May,” Colson said.
During normal times, Colson charges a fee for moving wedding dates; however, these are anything but normal times so Colson said she is waiving the fees as couples need to reschedule.
“The best thing I can do right now is show kindness and love and grace to these brides,” Colson said.
Brooke White is the owner of the bridal boutique White Weddings with locations in Valdosta and Tallahassee, Fla.
White said she has been surprised and grateful that brides who have weddings scheduled later in the year have still been coming.
“I am thankful we have been able to stay open and follow the (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines,” White said earlier in the week.
In addition to wearing masks and sanitizing her boutiques constantly, White said her stores have limited the number of people who can show up for a bridal party to pick the perfect dress.
There has been a decrease in new volume, she said, while she and her staff have been calling brides, answering questions and trying to alleviate worries.
Wedding venues are also juggling postponements and rescheduling.
Allison Faircloth is co-owner of The Peach Barn, an event and wedding venue in Tift County.
The last wedding held there was Sunday, March 15.
Faircloth said the facility has rescheduled three weddings between now and April 15.
The Peach Barn offers brides an opportunity to reschedule to a different weekend or brides can keep their dates now and have a smaller wedding with the opportunity to come back later for a reception with a larger crowd.
“Nobody has ever dealt with anything like this,” Faircloth said. “It’s totally different than say like a hurricane that comes through and affects just one or two weekends.”
She said the venue is creating a virtual tour of the property so future brides can still “visit” without having to come out in person.
“We understand that flexibility has to be on both sides from the bride and venue and we will continue to work with all of our clients to reschedule as needed,” Faircloth said.
As for Coggins and Harwell rescheduling their wedding, she said she hopes for possibly April but it might be June or July. She also realizes she may need to keep it small.
“We are super close to our grandparents," she said, "as long as they’re there and our wedding party we will be fine.”