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Wedding industry takes hit under ban on large gatherings

It's not just the couples losing out.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As venues close to comply with state restrictions on large gatherings due to COVID-19, the local wedding industry is starting to feel the effects. 

"It's going to be absolutely devastating," said TJ Suchocki, who owns Fastbooth, a company that rents portable photo booths for weddings and other events.

While wedding season doesn't pick up until late April and early May, Suchocki had more than a dozen booked over the next eight weeks.

"It looked like it was going to be a fantastic year," he said. "We've had all of our events postponed all within a week and a half, and it's been super tough because this is what we do full-time."

Many popular wedding venues have postponed events in cooperation with the CDC's recommendation to limit public gatherings of more than 50 people for around two months. 

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The Grand Rapids Art Museum canceled all its private and public events through May 4, and the public museum postponed all events "for the foreseeable future." Both venues are offering couples full refunds and chances to reschedule.

"Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s family, including staff, volunteers and guests and the broader community," a GRAM spokesperson said. "If [couples] are interested in rescheduling their event at the museum, we will honor a 10 percent discount on the facility rental fee for doing so."

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Many couples with late April weddings are waiting to see if anything changes, said Lisa Hammond, who owns Historia Collective, a Rockford-based wedding photography and videography business. 

"It's definitely a lot of stress on couples who had these big events planned," Hammond said. "The average wedding has around 12-15 vendors involved, so one wedding being rescheduled is a big move."

Vendors will likely be flexible with couples, looking to reschedule and make that special day happen, Suchocki said. 

"We're all in this together," he said. "If we take proper precautions, I think, in a couple months, we could be back at it."

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