A wedding celebrant’s Covid story: I’m not ok

I see so many of my friends, and randoms I follow on the Internet, talking about lockdown and Covid has affected them.

Stories of woe like having to takeaway instead of dine-in, holidaying in Australia instead of overseas, and some people have even been forced to share their home and their office with partners and children. Horrible stuff. And maybe for some of the unlucky ones you’ve had hours cut and some have lost jobs. It’s a tough time for all.

The average Australian online complains about things I could dream of. How I would love to just go to work today.

Over here in wedding-world, things are not looking good. The whole industry, all of us, are barely alive.

Due to the nature of the wedding industry, payment is made before the wedding, often more than a month before, sometimes many months. Which was lovely for a period there, because although we couldn’t work, at least we had money. JobKeeper brought some relief early on as well, though with mixed results, also JobKeeper wasn’t built for an industry that is in perpetual postponement. See how it ended in March?

That’s the issue with weddings compared to the entertainment and hospitality industry. Weddings are planned well in advance with very particular attendees coming from across the globe, and they are extremely intimate and personal events deeply shrouded in emotion and feeling.

You might be upset to not see a comedy or music show, but when your wedding is postponed for the second and third time you start to wonder whether the coronavirus is actually reading your wedding invitations.

Here in August 2021 I’m seeing 90% of the next three months of work being postponed to next year, and I’m getting calls from couples well into next year asking if they can postpone later. Most of these couples are on their third, fourth, and for at least one, their sixth wedding plan.

Most paid me a year or more ago. Some are just calling quits on the whole thing, demanding a refund - that I can’t afford to give - so they’re taking me to court. I’ve had over $90,000 of cancelled work across our two brands tht my wife and I manage.

The extra vector of pain for us is that for the last decade we’ve been stupid enough to build an international and interstate brand. Most of my work, almost all of my work in 2019 and 2020, was a flight away. So in rescheduling we need the couple, myself, their guests, and the state government’s to all co-ordinate. Hell.

Plus no-one in their right mind is booking a wedding today. I wouldn’t. With rolling lockdowns being announced with six hours notice on a Saturday (thanks Queensland, you lovely asses), there’s no way in hell I’d be planning to host a wedding today.

And the beautiful thing is that I can’t even take a new job today because the couples who have already contracted me for their wedding or elopement expect me to turn up next week - unless they postpone because then they expect me to turn up next year.

So what do we do?

I’m studying a Certificate IV in Real Estate so I can take a new job if there is one, we’re selling our investments, and depleting our savings. We apply for the $750 Covid disaster payment and wait for any other assistance my 24 years of taxation might be able to provide.

I guess the only main takeaway you should have is that if you’re getting married in the next few years, expect to be surprised at the cost - you’ll be paying for the covid-injuries the industry sustained.

And when events are back on, go support the legends in the arts and entertainment industries, they’re hurting like the wedding industry is.


I’ve published a follow-up here.