• May 29, 2020

Local wedding businesses adjust to COVID-19 - Odessa American: News

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Local wedding businesses adjust to COVID-19

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Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 10:29 am

With COVID-19 having an impact on everything, weddings have not been spared from the disruptions.

The effect has trickled down to bridal stores and photographers around the area.

Weddings that were supposed to take place this month, as well as in May, have now either been canceled or delayed until a later date forcing businesses and vendors into a tailspin.

But for some local photographers and store owners, opportunities have also been presented.

For Seila Stone, who operates her own photography business in Odessa, the added down time from events being canceled or postponed has allowed her to rebrand and to add video shooting to her business.

She said the plans to rebrand came about before COVID-19.

“Right before everything hit the fan, my husband and I attended a workshop in California,” Stone said. “As far as like rebranding, we’re changing our names to the Stone’s Photo and Films because we’re offering videos and stuff like that. We’re currently working with a designer from Minnesota and she’s rebranding our logo, colors and everything. We’re using this time to organize our business. But as far as contracts, the website and our new name, we’re taking care of everything that we couldn’t do before. I feel like this down time might be a good time to better ourselves.”

While wedding photographers all around the globe have been affected by the virus, Stone says the impact on her business hasn’t been too catastrophic.

Stone said she’s had one wedding rescheduled so far and that her next one isn’t until June with the rest being held in the fall.

“Luckily for me, I’ve only had to reschedule one wedding,” Stone said. “But I know a lot of people who have had spring weddings lined up who have had to cancel or reschedule. Luckily for me, I’ve only had to reschedule one but I have another one coming up that may have to get rescheduled. So far for me, it’s been a semi smooth.”

But she knows that a lot of photographers that have gotten harder hit than she has.

“Some clients aren’t even wanting to reschedule,” Stone said. “They just want to cancel. We do take retainers and a lot of people are asking for that money back completely. It’s pretty hard to sustain your family and yourself and your business, especially for people who have no other job. If it had been a lot worse, it would’ve been catastrophic for me. But for me, it’s been easy so far.”

Stone added that she and her husband do real estate photography on the side, which has also been beneficial.

“That’s helped keep us afloat and for us to not stress too much because real estate agents are still essential in our area,” Stone said. “It’s been beneficial for us to have another form of income.”

But weddings aren’t the only events being delayed or canceled.

There’s also a matter of senior portraits that are done at the last second this time of year before graduation.

“April is usually my busiest time with seniors just because a lot of them wait until the last minute to do their senior photos,” Stone said. “Right now, nobody is leaving their house. It’s been pretty silent.”

When it comes to rescheduling weddings, Stone says it is a process to make sure the rescheduled dates work not only for her but everyone else.

“A lot of people are lining up with their vendors and making sure they have the next date available,” Stone said. “Spring and the beginning of fall is the busiest time of the year. There’s only four weekends in each month so they have to scramble, but luckily for my couple, they still had another date available.”

For the bridal gown industry, it’s been a tough time but one store in particular has made an adjustment.

Holly K. Forbes, owner of University Bridal, says her staff has been making face masks during the pandemic.

“It’s kind of crazy because when the world changes like this … you have to realize that business is not going to stop, it’s just changed,” Forbes said. “We just have to look at this and ask ‘what does the market want?’ because people are still going to spend money on things.”

But she knows that other bridal and formal wear stores have had it much worse.

“It’s affecting University Bridals drastically, but it’s going to be very hard on any bridal store across the nation to survive this,” Forbes said. “The overhead that’s involved with the bridal and prom industry is going to be tough.”

Like with other stores, she’s had clients who have had to reschedule weddings this past month.

“Almost all of them,” Forbes said. “All the brides who were supposed to get married this month or in March had to reschedule because who’s going to spend all of this money on a wedding and only have 10 people there. Most of my May and June have also rescheduled. A few of them are still playing it by ear.”

While the situation has been less than ideal for many businesses, Forbes and her staff have been making the best of the circumstances.

“The icing on the top of the cake is that I have a product that I 100 percent believe in,” Forbes said. “It’s going to help save lives. Making bridal gowns is awesome but this has also been rewarding.”

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