Lakes area couples waiting on their weddings during pandemic
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, more couples with spring weddings may have to make these same decisions.
Wedding bells will be mostly mum this spring as couples across the globe make the tough choice to postpone their nuptials amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brainerd lakes area lovebirds are no exception, and the local venues and vendors that serve the wedding industry are grappling with the sudden and dramatic impacts on their immediate economic outlook.
“It was really heartbreaking to have to cancel,” said Maren Goff, who along with fiance Joel Martin announced the postponement of their April 25 wedding earlier this month. “But I think looking forward now, not only do we have to consider the health and the safety of our guests and ourselves, but the community as a whole. And not only that, but I think now with everything being so uncertain for a lot of people, we really have to look at people’s emotional and financial health, too.”
The Brainerd High School graduates who now live in Baxter expected about 300 guests to celebrate their union at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, where Goff, 25, also works as an event planner. Goff and Martin, 27, said the resort’s been very supportive of their decision to postpone, along with other vendors including a photographer, DJ, florist, stylist and those renting out the tuxedos. But lining up all of those same vendors again meant likely pushing out the ceremony and reception by another year.
“Joel and I have been engaged for almost two years,” Goff said. “...It’s like really hard to fathom that we’ve already waited so long and now we may have to wait another full year.”
The couple is considering going forward with getting hitched anyway and inviting their guests to celebrate with them in 2021. In the meantime, Goff said it’s hard to see the industry in which she works suffer in these unprecedented times.
“As an event planner myself it hurts to see the entire hospitality industry get hit so hard, and it is concerning,” Goff said. “I have, however, seen a huge outpouring of support for not only Joel and I in our decision, but also for local businesses as they continue to get hit hard as well.”
Another future husband and wife with lakes area ties also recently reached the conclusion their April wedding would have to wait. Former BHS three-sport athletes David Supinski and Maria West were engaged last May with plans to wed at Lord of Life Lutheran Church and celebrate at Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, both in Baxter. But about a month ago the couple knew it was likely their big day would be delayed. Supinski, a second-year medical student, and West, an occupational therapy graduate student, made the call officially two weeks later.
“Especially in medical school, we were hearing rumors and there was a fair amount of buzz about it (the new coronavirus), but there was no telling of what it would eventually turn into,” Supinski said by phone Friday, March 27. “So, obviously, as the CDC guidelines continued to evolve over the last month, the picture got clear. And we made an official decision maybe two weeks ago, but I'd say maybe a month ago, we knew by then that it was probably unrealistic.”
Supinski said despite the disappointing decision, the high school sweethearts who’ve been together seven years already are handling the situation well.
“There’s only so much you can really control and we can only control that we love each other and we want to be married eventually, but we’re just going to have to do it when the virus permits, I guess,” Supinski said. “Overall, it’s been really straightforward and low stress. Our vendors have been extremely accommodating in rescheduling our event, and family and friends have been extremely supportive.”
Those who run wedding venues have been busy working with couples whose wedding days were originally planned for April, and depending on how the COVID-19 situation evolves, may have to continue that work into at least May.
Priscilla and David Soos recently took over ownership of the Pine Peaks Event Center in Fifty Lakes, and 2020 was to be their first wedding season at the helm. Three couples had booked the event center in April, and all three opted to get married on the same weekend the following year, according to Priscilla Soos.
“Most of them were concerned that they just wanted more distance, so that they didn’t have problems still if they picked in the same year,” Soos said during a phone interview last week. “... We’re just listening to the news, you know, trying to collect all the information that we can and we’re still figuring it out just like everybody else is.”
Derek Owen, public relations and marketing director for the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd, confirmed the event center and frequent wedding venue is also determining how to proceed.
“The Northern Pacific Center is working together with its current bookings to determine the best possible solutions moving forward,” Owen said in an emailed statement.
Soos said the vendors they work with at the event center are in the same boat as businesses in the entertainment and hospitality industries. She said while they’ve all been forced to suspend normal business until at least May 1, per one of Gov. Tim Walz’s most recent executive orders, she’s been happy with how well partner businesses have kept one another informed.
“The thing that’s been impressive is how the people that we work with as we get information, we're all sharing it with each other. So, you know, anything that has worked for me and David we’re quick to pass it on to our vendors and vice versa, when they get pieces of information, they're quick to share it with us,” Soos said. “And I think that's just the bright and shining star in all of this is how everybody's passing on and sharing information as they get it.”
Both lakes area couples who shared their stories with the Dispatch found positive things coming from the unforeseeable turn of events.
“The one comment that we have received from a lot of people is that it’ll just give them extra time to prepare their dance moves,” Goff said. “Hopefully, the anticipation will just grow, and maybe the party will be better at the end of the day.”
“And it’ll make a good story in 20, 30, 40 years,” Martin added.
Supinski said the date he and West chose was more a matter of convenience for all involved than for a specific desire for a spring wedding.
“We’ve been trying to look at the bright side and say now, tentatively looking at a fall event, we’ll be tan this time around, and we just have a little bit more time to plan and be organized. So it’s just fine,” Supinski said.
As the situation evolves, more couples with spring weddings may have to make these same decisions. Goff offered one piece of advice for them: “Try not to cancel vendors outright, try and postpone. The wedding industry is filled with small business owners and freelancers who rely on the support of the couples they serve.”
As a public service, we've opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.
CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .