‘The coronavirus is delaying the party, but love is not going anywhere’: McKinney wedding industry takes a hit

Rebecca and Jay kiss at their wedding last year at Stone Crest Venue in McKinney. (Courtesy Catie Ann Photography)
Rebecca and Jay kiss at their wedding last year at Stone Crest Venue in McKinney. (Courtesy Catie Ann Photography)

Rebecca and Jay kiss at their wedding last year at Stone Crest Venue in McKinney. (Courtesy Catie Ann Photography)

McKinney wedding venue owner Jennifer Klassen said the wedding industry has been hit especially hard during the coronavirus outbreak, mostly when orders came down from state and local governments the week of March 16, which reduced gatherings to 250 people, then to 50 and, ultimately, to 10.

The city of McKinney later required “nonessential businesses” to remain closed.

“That really just shuts down your venue,” said Klassen, who owns Gather in downtown McKinney. “We don’t have takeout service. You can’t drive by and pick up stuff to go.”

However, Klassen said she would rather look on the positive side of what venue owners can do, which is allow customers to reschedule their events without a financial penalty.

“The coronavirus is delaying the party, but love is not going anywhere,” Klassen said.

Several area venue owners are doing the same by allowing engaged couples to reschedule their weddings to later dates.

“In the midst of all that is going on with jobs and the economies and health, weddings can seem like a trivial thing, but love is what holds us all together,” said Debi Ladd, owner of Avalon Legacy Ranch.

As of late March, Ladd said she had already rescheduled 15 weddings, which she estimates to be a financial loss of nearly $100,000.

“Of course, other wedding vendors are hurting,” she said. “It’s an extensive business. I don’t know how many businesses will be lost during this process.”

With the cancellation and rescheduling of dates, wedding vendors, such as caterers, waitstaff, DJ, florists, photographers, videographers, cake bakers, wedding coordinators and more are hurting during this time.

McKinney bakery Sweet Art Custom Cake Studio sees April, May and June as the biggest months of the year, owner Andrea Hale said. The bakery, which focuses solely on custom work, decided to close its doors to walk-ins as both weddings and parties cancel or reschedule their cake orders.

“Technically, we could still be running, but the orders are just not there in order to keep a full staff,” Hale said. “That's been painful to watch my staff have to go off work.”

Hale said she hopes to reopen in May or June. With many weddings rescheduling for July and August, Hale said she is optimistic her bakery will be able to recover by the end of the year, but if closures continue, Sweet Art will not do well.

Hale’s clients have been largely understanding, with some accepting store credit for cakes down the road and some even opting to donate their deposit, she said. The business runs on a deposit system in order to pay for the product needed and to begin working on cakes.

“This just puts everybody in a hard place because you feel sorry for them because they have put money [down], and they spent money on a great party or a great wedding,” Hale said. “And of course, they have that option to lose everything. ... And so do we.”

Bakeries are unique in that they are able to take on multiple events in one day, so there are fewer scheduling constraints, according to Hale. At times, the bakery has made as many as nine cakes in one weekend.

For McKinney wedding photographer Catie Perez, owner of Catie Ann Photography, rescheduled weddings create a large gap in income, and portraits of any kind are off the table for the time being, as photography studios are considered a nonessential business.

“Our income is totally based on the wedding date,” Perez said. “Now, there's this huge chunk of time between what was their current wedding date, and now, their new wedding date, so that's just a huge chunk of time where there's no money coming in.”

Most of Perez’s weddings chose to reschedule for the fall, filling in weekends that had previously been open.

Perez typically limits herself to three weddings a month but will now have up to six weddings in one month. She said she does not expect delivery times to increase but will definitely feel the pressure of an increased workload in the fall.

In the meantime, Perez is focusing on the back end of her business, taking on tasks like updating her website and creating educational opportunities, she said. Knowing how to pivot your business and saving for tougher times is necessary to being in a business in the arts, according to Perez.

“I wouldn't deem my field essential,” Perez said. “I think we're a luxury to pretty much everybody to be able to go and afford a photographer to capture anything.... That's just kind of the nature of going into like the arts is that you're not always going to have a place in the economy.”

Those that may be getting the shortest end of the stick are wedding planners, Perez said. Those she have come into contact with have been working to reschedule weddings while not necessarily being paid for the additional stress and planning, she said.

Wendy Kidd, owner of McKinney-based wedding planning service Each & Every Detail, said her time is being spent helping brides and grooms reschedule weddings as well as helping with creative wedding alternatives.

One of her couples chose to live stream their wedding via Facebook and encouraged invitees to dress up and “attend” the ceremony, she said. Guests sent photos to the couple of themselves dressed up and celebrating.

Kidd is offering complimentary calls for couples trying to work through rescheduling their weddings and has been posting regular blog updates with advice for couples deciding whether to reschedule or cancel their weddings. In her first blog focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, Kidd began by acknowledging that the situation was less than ideal.

"Let's start with this sucks," she wrote.

From there, she walked readers through key checklist items and shared sources for brides and grooms wanting to know more about the situation. In her latest blog update, Kidd encourages couples to continue to honor their original wedding date, whether that be with an intimate ceremony or a special date night.

“We know your new wedding date will be even sweeter because of the delay, and everyone will be truly ready to celebrate,” Kidd wrote in the blog.

Liesbeth Powers - Emily Davis