COVID 19 rules knocks the bottom out of wedding photographer’s plans

The wedding planned for March 21 in Williamson County was going to be a big one with 250 guests. Then, after officials initially limited gatherings to 50 to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, the guest list was slashed.

When that maximum number allowed to gather dropped to 10, the bride made her decision: the wedding would go on that day, just with only the couple, the officiant and wedding photographer Tiffany Snyder Hofeldt in attendance.

“I told her, ‘you’re marrying the man of your dreams, and marriage is about thick and thin,” said Buda-based Hofeldt. “‘It sucks, but you are still together and you are healthy and you are going to be married.’”

So far, Hofeldt, who has weddings booked through the fall of this year, hasn’t had any out and out cancelations, but a lot of postponements and, as she puts it, “a lot of tearful brides.”

As well as brides with questions. Hofeldt said she was texting clients one recent evening until 10 p.m. “trying to reassure them.”

Given the shifts in the social landscape once the pandemic began to be felt in Central Texas, much of the future of the wedding industry is uncertain. Given that Dripping Springs is the “Wedding Capital of Texas,” a lot of big celebrations have been put on hold along with a lot of paychecks.

“I’m trying to work with my clients because it’s good business,” Hofeldt said. Still, having to postpone means setting new dates when everyone will be available. “It’s going to be very difficult and trying on these brides.”

In addition to photography, weddings involve caterers, musicians and more. When the couple has hired a wedding coordinator, that person is the primary go-between to assure the bride’s big day wishes are met. If there’s no wedding coordinator, that role often falls to the photographer and his or her team. For example, for the March 21 wedding, Hofeldt had lined up a team of four, including one drone operator.

Now none of them have the work. “Ultimately, it’s still wages lost for me,” as well as others, she said. “Those gathering restrictions really came down really hard and really fast. The wedding industry, wedding venues are all scrambling. Nobody wants to break the law and everyone wants to be safe but no one knows how overblown or under blown it is.”

She’s also had to stand up for the COVID-19-imposed laws and against the “we’re healthy and can have our wedding” mentality that some still cling to.

Hofeldt has another big wedding booked in April, though whether it will happen or not is anyone’s guess. “It’s really hard to see what’s going on. Too much is happening, it’s just crumbling down,” she said. “It’s not going to be over overnight. Obviously they’re expecting it to get worse before it gets better, and when it gets better it will get slowly better.”

Like all Texans, Hofeldt is used to having weather change plans, but this is different.

“It’s not the end of the world but it’s pretty bad. It’s not like ‘oh look, there’s a tornado coming.’ It’s a beautiful day out … you can’t see anything ominous.”

The virus has delivered a double whammy to the family. Hofeldt’s husband Brian Hofeldt is the founder and front man of The Derailers, who have seen their gigs evaporate.

Despite it all, she’s looking on the bright side. “As unfortunate as I am to work in the service sector, for the most part my job is at home” where son Van, who attends Johnson High School, was as well.

“It’s nice to have this time at home with him,” she said, and make creative use of the downtime. For example, one recent night he camped out in the back yard “with a tent and campfire.”

“We’re doing OK and it will be fine. You just have to plan for these things.”

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