Weddings: One more victim of COVID-19

Wedding bells are not ringing amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Many couples have changed their celebration dates and some have even cancelled.

Party venues are taking the hit, but some in Hays County have tried to ease this stressful time on their clients. Each venue has its own protocol to handling this oncoming wave of changes. And although the celebrations are coming to a halt, obtaining marriage licenses remains unscathed.

Oscar Mejia, a deputy clerk at the Hays County Clerk’s Office, said so far there has been no decrease in marriage certificate requests. But given the rapidly evolving news, agencies need to adapt.
While the ability to apply for a marriage license can be done online, the county clerk’s office is looking to find an alternative method for not going in person to pick up the license. No restrictions have taken place yet, but judges are working on a new solution.

Judge Beth Smith, Justice of the Peace in Precinct 2, said she is not expecting a decrease in people applying for their marriage certificates.

Even though there are no changes in the contractual portion of marriage, the wedding industries by and large are experiencing the shift.

Some venue coordinators in Dripping Springs were too busy to accept interviews due to all the rescheduling requests couples have been sending in. Some declined to make comments about the situation.

Prospect House, a party and wedding venue, have seen an uptick in rescheduling since last week. Many people contacted the hosts about needing to change their wedding date, and in some cases where the bride and groom did not call in, the venue informed the couples about county requirements for large gatherings.

“In case it doesn’t go without saying,” said Erich Oswald, co-owner with Kathryn Oswald, “we don’t want to put anyone at risk. The safety of our community at large, not just the safety of clients. [We want to] protect the public and be responsive and adaptable and help folks who have been planning events.”

Oswald said he understands the pressure these couples are subjected to. They have planned their wedding for months and suddenly they have to readjust. Some couples have friends and family coming from outside the U.S. and had their hands tied by the travel bans. Last week, a large number of clients had to change their dates due to travel restrictions; since early last week, the calls have not stopped.

Weddings at Prospect House will be rescheduled post-May.

Business is not completely lost, even though the majority of couples have postponed their wedding, but this is still a financial hit, explained Brad Schreiber, president and managing partner of Saddle Creek Weddings.

These venues sell one product; weddings, with the busiest times on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Out of 365 days, about 156 are used and that is where the impact lies. They cannot replace or extend the days of the year, they can only work with what the calendar allows.

Saddle Creek Weddings will give the couples who decided to reschedule a one-year period. Not all venues are using the same protocols.
Some have not allowed rescheduling or refunds and some have given couples an extension until the end of 2020, Schreiber said.

For the time being, Saddle Creek Weddings is not forcing a reschedule unless government agencies begin implementing rules on the numbers of those allowed to gather in the same place. Schreiber said he witnessed a couple taking charge by only allowing 50 guests at their wedding. He said these decisions should be left up to the couple.

Like most industries, these venues are reacting and altering their work as the news comes. The Covid-19 outbreak is still new ground and these restrictions and changes are ongoing.

“We don’t know what the impact is going to be,” Schreiber said. “So we just have to do it day-by-day and take valid information from valid sources.”

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