It’s Heather Farr’s job to have a plan.
The owner at Heather Farr Events is now operating without a road map for how the coronavirus outbreak will affect the weddings she has on the books for the 2020 season.
Monday, as Gov. Tony Evers banned gatherings of 50 or more people to control the outbreak and President Donald Trump advised limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people, Farr was figuring out what to do with her brides and grooms set to tie the knot in the coming weeks and months. And then Tuesday afternoon, Evers dropped his ban down to gatherings of 10 people, too.
“The ambiguity is sending couples that are booked this summer into a tizzy and there are no answers,” Farr said. “It’s just continuously we don’t know. It’s a developing situation.”
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A wedding in April at a private residence for 150 people was postponed. She has a feeling that couples in May will want to postpone, too. She is telling couples booked later in the summer to look into buying a wedding insurance policy.
“I just can’t give them what I want to give them, which is peace of mind,” she said.
Peak wedding season in Milwaukee starts at the beginning of May and runs through October. The ban from Evers did not give an end date.
As the coronavirus pandemic increasingly affects daily life, it’s also changing how we celebrate some of life’s biggest moments where we surround ourselves with friends and family.
The Milwaukee County Courthouse canceled weddings at least through the beginning of April. Evenement Planning was scheduled for three weddings this coming weekend. All are postponed. Natural Elegance Events is moving an April wedding to the end of the year.
The situation is ever-changing. What was following recommendations one day is banned by the next. And no one knows when it will be safe to gather in large groups again.
“You’ll have a phone call and something changes,” said Natural Elegance Events owner Kristin Reisenauer. “It’s tough to stay on top of all the things. You can make a change and think you’re ahead and then a curveball is thrown in.”
Right now, event planners are reviewing cancellation policies. And seeing how a postponement or cancellation will affect the couple’s bottom line. Average weddings around the Milwaukee area cost $35,000, according to planners.
Tall Guy and a Grill Catering, based in West Allis, has already experienced about a half-dozen postponements, with emails coming in “every couple minutes.”
No one has outright canceled, though, said owner Dan Nowak.
Nowak already purchased food for a 160-person wedding scheduled for this weekend that has been postponed. He plans to save whatever he can, freeze some items and donate the rest.
Several catering events have been canceled for Black Shoe Hospitality. The restaurant group does not require a deposit for catering, so refunds were not necessary. It had not yet purchased food for the events.
Alex Lasry was set to marry Lauren Markowitz March 28 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City along with 500 friends and family.
Just more than two weeks before the couple would exchange vows, the venue canceled all external events. Lasry, senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Markowitz, director of communications for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, would need to postpone. A few hours later, the NBA season would be suspended.
“When we think selfishly, it sucks,” he said. “The biggest day in our lives has been postponed. It’s still going to happen. Her and I are going to get married. It’s not a question of if — it’s when. We want to make sure it’s a time when all of our friends and family can be a part of it and not worry about what’s going on.”
“Our hope is that by the summer we’ll be able to get married and things will be at a relative normal,” Lasry said. “If not, then we have bigger problems than whether our wedding will go on.”
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