Utah couples, venues grapple with how to plan weddings during coronavirus

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Twigs Flower Co. owner Ray King fills an order of flowers Friday for a wedding. King said the wedding originally was for 350 people, but because of the coronavirus, the invite was cut down to 10 people.

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People keep telling Kaitlyn Gilley and her fiance that this will be a funny story to tell their grandchildren someday. But right now, Gilley said, having to postpone their upcoming wedding because of the coronavirus hasn’t felt that fun.

“The repercussions have reached so far," she added, “and so close to home.”

Gilley, 24, and Logan Pia, 23, were counting down the days to their April 10 nuptials, but now the West Jordan couple are among the brides, grooms and wedding venues in Utah trying to reassess after government agencies implemented guidelines to prevent the spread of of the highly contagious virus. As the number of cases in the state increased, Gov. Gary Herbert issued an order Tuesday prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people.

Gilley and Pia had sent out more than 200 invitations for their wedding at Camp Williams in Bluffdale. They’ve reached out to their guests, but it’s hard to know when to reschedule because of the uncertainty about when the restrictions will be lifted.

“Do we even plan something right now? Or do we just postpone until further notice?” Gilley said. And if they wait, she wonders, will their photographer still be available?

The couple considered getting legally married now and holding a reception later," Gilley said, but “we didn’t want to diminish the celebration of the day and not be able to include the people important to us."

There’s been “lots of crying" as they’ve canceled plans, including for a bachelorette party in Las Vegas and their honeymoon in Italy. Through it all, Pia kept sweetly assuring Gilley, “I’m going to fix this.”

“It sucks there’s no way to fix this right now," she said. "There’s nothing we can do.”

(Photo courtesy of Mary Wilson with Fervent Image) Kaitlyn Gilley and her fiance, Logan Pia, were planning to get married April 10 in Bluffdale. They postponed their ceremony and reception because of coronavirus.

Spring and summer are a busy time for weddings, said Brigham C. Young, owner of SaltLakeBride.com, a wedding planning website. Even so, Young said he hopes most venues will be flexible during the unpredictability of coronavirus. “Everybody associated with a wedding is affected,” Young said, whether it’s the bride and groom or the caterers, florists and other vendors.

“I’ve seen all of retail drop off,” said Ray King, owner of Twigs Flower Co. in Salt Lake City.

People haven’t been ordering flowers to take to loved ones in hospitals or for funerals because of fears of spreading the coronavirus, King said. On Friday, he filled an order for a wedding originally planned for 350 people; the guest list had been slashed to 10.

Mara Marian, a wedding planner for Fuse Weddings and Events, based in Salt Lake City, has been helping her clients decide whether to cancel or postpone their celebrations. Last weekend, a venue shut down at the last minute, and Marian helped her clients move the wedding and more than 140 guests to the bride’s father’s home in Park City. It’s been a “roller coaster,” she said.

At the same time, Marian made the decision to postpone her own May 9 wedding in Thailand. As a wedding planner, Marian is used to having “all the answers” about how to proceed. “This is the one thing I don’t have the answers” for, she said. And having worked in the industry for more than a decade hasn’t made the process any easier.

“It’s gutting for anybody who has to postpone anything important to them,” Marian said.

Scarlett Musser, 22, and her 23-year-old fiance, Errick Spradley, were mostly worried they wouldn’t be able to be sealed in the Draper Temple on March 28, as they planned.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced the ceremony would be by appointment only and limited to eight people. Latter-day Saints believe married couples can be sealed for eternity. “That was a big deal to us,” Musser said.

The Provo couple decided they would go ahead with their sealing and postpone their reception at a nearby church until later. It was an inconvenience, but Musser said they also saw some perks. Musser had rented her dress, so there were no worries there, she said, and the delay gave them more time to budget.

“We’re seeing the rainbows in the thunderstorm,” Musser said.

(Photo courtesy of Jessica Schoemig) Scarlett Musser and her fiance, Errick Spradley, decided to go ahead with their sealing at a Draper temple on March 28 like they planned, but postpone their wedding reception until a later date because of coronavirus.

Dawn Borchardt, manager of Memorial House in Salt Lake City, has called and emailed customers to postpone all the weddings and events scheduled for the next eight weeks. People have been “so kind and patient and understanding,” Borchardt said. “We just all know we’re in this together.”

Like Memorial House, Cottage Charm is allowing people to postpone affected events with no extra fee.

“We just assured them that we want to make this work as much as they want to make it work. It’s our livelihood. And so, of course, we didn’t want to just shut right down because we’re a small business, and it could affect us terribly. But we have to adhere to the rules, as well,” said Jodi Brimhall, owner of the Sandy venue.

If customers want to stick with their original date, though, the Cottage Charm has some moderations. Groups are encouraged to slim down their guest list and rotate people in and out to keep the crowd size low. Brimhall also said they should have bottles of hand sanitizer and opt for an elbow bump, rather than hugs and handshakes.

“We try to keep it light," she said, “but at the same time, we feel that’s reasonable.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Twigs Flower Co. owner Ray King fills an order of flowers Friday for a wedding. King said the wedding originally was for 350 people, but because of the coronavirus, the invite was cut down to 10 people.