Spring and summer are the most popular times for Vancouver Island weddings, but many people are now forced to cancel or postpone their dream day due to COVID-19.
“I’ve got 15 weddings scheduled this summer and already had three cancel or postpone,” said Julia Loglisci, a professional photographer based out of Victoria. “It sucks because even though I do photograph a lot of other things, weddings are my main source of income, as it is for many other vendors.”
On March 16, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry banned any gatherings larger than 50 people, and implored everyone to practise social distancing. This forced venues to shut down and seen cancellations of most religious gatherings as well, including large wedding ceremonies.
“It’s hard times right now for sure, but even though I’m a small business owner, I feel worse for my brides and grooms going through this,” Loglisci said. “It’s supposed to be the best day of your life.”
One of Loglisci’s clients, Dione Travis and her fiancé, had planned to have a wedding in Greater Victoria on April 18, but chose to cancel the event as soon as they heard about border cancellations.
“We had family coming up from Australia so we knew if they couldn’t come we weren’t going to do it,” Travis said. “In my opinion, weddings should be about hugging, kissing and shaking hands, so we’ll wait until we can do that.”
Luckily for Travis, all of her vendors were understanding of the situation and had no issues postponing the celebrations. She added that in the meantime, she and her fiancé may look into an elopement and have the ceremony later.
Besides doing photography, Loglisci also owns a pop-up wedding business designed for elopements, and said so far she has seen an uptick in requests.
“I got two emails just yesterday; I do really think that people will be considering doing a pop up wedding right now, and eloping,” she said. “That being said, I am respecting the ‘stay at home’ safety policy right now, and even though I am promoting my pop up wedding, elopement style ceremonies right now, I won’t be doing them until it’s safe to do so.”
Saanich woman Alexa Way had planned a destination wedding to Maui scheduled for March 24, but decided to cancel when advisories were put out stating that anyone returning home from travel would have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
“We weren’t comfortable asking our guests to do that,” Way said. “It was a hard decision to make, but it was definitely the right call that was later confirmed when they closed the borders.”
The resort and vendors were happy to accommodate a refund, though airlines were another story and only gave her until December to use travel credits.
Luckily Way and her fiancé, Mark, already had their legal ceremony on a small beach in February to avoid any legal problems in the States.
“I’m really grateful we did that, but if we had we known the celebration in Maui would have been cancelled we would have maybe done something more to celebrate that day, we really just went home,” she said. “We’ve been planning our wedding for two years and were so close, so it was definitely a bummer.”
So far the couple is planning on just waiting it out to see what happens. In the meantime they are dealing with the stress of potential exposure to COVID-19, since Mark is a millwright at the Royal Jubilee Hospital and repairs things such as ventilators, hospital beds and other equipment.
“Sometimes I feel sad for myself, but then you realize a lot of other people are going through it, too,” Way said.
City hall weddings are also off the table, said City of Victoria’s head of engagement, Bill Eisenhauer.
“All public use events, including weddings, at city hall are now on hold during the health emergency for the foreseeable future. The next date set for city hall weddings is June 12,” Eisenhauer said, noting that so far there were no confirmed bookings cancelled, with the next confirmed booking taking place Sept. 18. “At this time we are simply taking a waiting list of any inquiries for June 12, but not confirming any bookings.”
However, people are still willing to get creative with their weddings, with Greater Victoria seeing a steady number of wedding licences issued by Service BC in recent months.
According to Service BC, from February 1, 2019 to April 1, 2019, a total of 616 licences were processed. In comparison, from Feb. 1 to April 1, Service BC processed 610 licences.
London Drugs, the only other locations in Greater Victoria where people can pick up marriage licences, has also not seen a significant change in purchases. London Drugs spokesperson Wendy Hartley said this may be due to the fact that when licences are issued they are good for three months, and that anyone seeking an extension would need to get in contact with Vital Statistics.