Tags Posts tagged with "Weddings"


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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Weddings are such wonderful, optimistic events, where people sometimes throw huge parties, while sharing the wonder of finding each other and committing to a lifetime partnership.

What if, amid all the planning for the big and small elements of a wedding — the original vows, the carefully selected flowers and walk up music, the tailor-made dresses and suits — the guests also thought about all the odd but realistic moments they will likely contribute to this wonderful celebration of the happy couple.

Let’s start with the obvious: really; it shouldn’t be called a wedding. It should be called Judgment Day. This is where guests, some of whom aren’t sure why they were invited or why they came, share their judgements about everything. People might rehearse a few lines or stare at themselves in the mirror, with skeptical faces, as they say:

“Really? The groomsmen wore black suits? Is this a wedding or a funeral?”

“What kind of food is this? I can’t tell, it’s tasteless and the portions are so small.”

“Wait, so the neighbor is performing the marital ceremony and he doesn’t know the full name of the bride? Who thought that would be a good idea?”

“Is that her extended family over there? They may be better looking than we are, but they are chewing gum. Who chews gum at a wedding?”

“Who thought it would be a good idea to have a wedding in Maine in February. Didn’t they think it would be cold? Who likes the cold?”

Okay, after the judgments, there’s the stories guests share. Older relatives, for example, might share anecdotes about the first poop they cleaned up from a bride or groom, that time they saw the bride or groom making out at a movie theater (“that Sheila sure was great. What ever happened to her? Oh, she’s sitting over there? Hi, Sheila, I always liked you.”) and that time they drove four states away to hear them play an oboe solo and weren’t they wonderful for putting out that effort.

Then, there are the comparisons to the guests’ weddings. Guests could prepare for this by looking through their own photo albums. Someone will explain how much worse they had it back then — “we didn’t have the option of Chilean sea bass: we just got tuna fish sandwiches on Wonder Bread.” — and will share details about how many guests they had, and may name-drop about the famous people the next generation doesn’t revere, but who took time out of their lives to attend their wedding.

These brushed off comparison discussions also may include references to things like “table photos” and “table cameras.” People don’t generally have table cameras anymore because almost everyone has a camera on their phone. The happy couple may ask people to share pictures from the event with them.

In addition to all the warm hugs and kisses the bride and groom receive, some relatives may continue the slightly amusing but mostly unwelcome cheek-pinching. That one probably isn’t as prevalent, but the ones who pinched cheeks back in the day must have been working out their fingers for weeks before big events, preparing to burst facial capillaries to connect/ inflict pain on the recipient.

And then some of the revelers may feel the urge to share every detail about the last day or so before this wonderful event, which could include a description of airport delays, the turbulence on the flight, the person who kept getting up from the window seat — “if they knew they needed to use the bathroom on a four hour flight every 37 minutes, why didn’t they get an aisle seat?” — and the lost luggage — “you think I wanted to wear this to your wedding?”

Finally, there are the inevitable “what’s next” questions, which often involves demanding an exact timing and head count for children, the names of future progeny (“you do plan to name at least one of your children after me, right?”), plans for future vacations when the happy couple can come and visit guests who absolutely insist they fly to their home town where they’ll “really show them a great time,” and, on a much smaller scale, what everyone is supposed to do for breakfast the next morning.

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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

My oldest grandson is now engaged to be married. At twenty-eight, his timing is altogether appropriate, but it is a wonder to me. The idea of having a grandchild tying the knot, when I am only 35. All right, 45. Um, 55? Oh, never mind. You get the point.

Further, I am intrigued by how the couple is going about the process, especially in contrast with how my husband and I wed. I’ll explain.

Not long after the initial phone call from my grandson telling me the exciting news of their engagement, I was told that the wedding was planned for two years hence. That was, of course, fine, but I couldn’t help but marvel compared to what my husband and I did. 

We informed my astonished parents that we wished to marry in six weeks. My husband-to-be was moving to a new apartment at that time, and we thought it would be romantic to start our lives together then. In those days, couples decidedly did not live together until after they married.

My grandson did the traditional thing, getting down on one knee. The scene, though, was anything but traditional. He managed to position himself onto the floor of the Tomorrowland People Mover car as they went through a tunnel at Disney World, one of their favorite rides, and popped the question.  Her parents were in the car behind them, and as she witnessed what was happening, her mother enthusiastically screamed with delight.

My husband told me he loved me and asked me over the phone to marry him. I never did get an engagement ring. It should be explained that he was at school in Chicago at the time, and I was in Boston. 

We had a wedding in New York City, where I grew up, with all the trimmings, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, a full ceremony, music, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dancing and 175 guests. I wasn’t even there for the planning. I was working in Boston right up to the weekend before the event. My mother managed it all. And after the wedding, she practically collapsed for a month.

I did come back for a wedding dress fitting. It was all done efficiently. My mom and I went to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where there were multiple shops that took care of such needs, and climbed the brownstone stairs to the one recommended, I don’t remember which one. I picked out the material, style and trimmings I wanted, measurements were taken, and presto! The day before the wedding, it was ready, fit perfectly, and I wore it, long train and all, the next day.

My granddaughter-to-be, on the other hand, had the great pleasure of trying on many and ultimately picking out her dress with the company and input from her mother and the groom’s mother. Photos were sent, via cell phones, to others tuned in. It must have been a leisurely outing that provided a joyful lifetime memory for all.

There is to be a bridal shower brunch to honor the bride-to-be back in the place she grew up, with her many friends and loved ones in attendance. That, of course, wasn’t an option for us, given our tight schedule. I don’t think it even occurred to me, more is the pity, because such events are part and parcel of the delicious anticipation for my grandchildren.

Her friends put out a request for favorite recipes to be sent, with the plan of providing the couple a Friends and Loved Ones cookbook. What a clever idea. I only knew how to cook breaded veal cutlet, mashed potatoes and canned peas, which I practiced on my roommate each night for three weeks before the wedding. And we weren’t registered anywhere for gifts. We just opened the envelopes and counted the money immediately following the wedding that night on our flight to Chicago.

There will undoubtedly be a bachelor party. In fact, my grandson just returned from one for a dear friend that involved a three-day cruise to Mexico. Yes, Virginia, times have changed. And why not?

Wedding. Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We’re finally here.

These poor couples have had to wait for days, months and years to tie the knot in front of family and friends. It’s such a relief that we can all gather again, celebrating the love that binds two people forever and that may, if it hasn’t already, lead to children.

It seems that the list of dos and don’ts for weddings has changed, just as so many other parts of modern reality have altered the way we go about our lives.

Here are a few of the dos and don’ts, starting with the don’ts.

— Cough. Ever. If you have to cough, swallow it or make it sound like a strange laugh. No one wants to hear a cough, least of all at a wedding. Go outside to cough. Cough in the car. Cough into your hand like you’re saying something private and being discrete. Go to the edge of the parking lot and cough.

— Chew with your mouth open. No one wants to see the food you’re eating, especially not in the third year of COVID-19.

  Point to the food and say how much better you could make it. Look, we know that you’ve lost a step on your social graces from being home so often. We know that you’ve spent a great deal of time cooking meals to your satisfaction. We know that you are a great admirer of your own food, your own voice, and your own way of doing things. Appreciate that someone else has made the food and will clean it up and that they do things differently than you do. You can have food you know you love as soon as you walk back into your fortress of solitude.

— Talk about politics. You’re not going to convince anyone who doesn’t agree with you already of your views. So, why bring it up? This isn’t the time to try to make a reasoned argument with relatives who only share genes and nothing else. Smile if they bring something up you find disagreeable.

— Complain about the weather. The bride, groom and the extended family have no control over the weather. If it’s too hot, get a drink. If it’s too cold, shift back and forth from one foot to the other or bring a sweater. The weather is either perfect, dramatic, lovely or dynamic.

— Talk about your own wedding. If people were there, they remember. If not, they don’t need you to compare what’s going on to what you did. Your wedding may have been lovely, but you’re not there right now.

— Point to someone else’s mask and ask them why they’re wearing it. Do whatever is comfortable for you. Don’t tell anyone else what to do because, well, that doesn’t work and it gets people angry. They do their thing, you do yours.

— Binge watch shows while you’re waiting for the ceremony to start. Yes, the invitation said the party would start at 7 p.m. and it’s now 7:18 p.m. So what? You’re there to celebrate other people and to witness this lovely moment. Netflix and other shows can wait. Live your life.

— Show pictures of your pet. Many of us added dogs, cats and fish, particularly during the pandemic.

Okay, so, here is a short list of dos:

— Give other people a chance to talk. Silence, periodically, is okay. You don’t need to fill every quiet moment, if there are any, with your opinions, thoughts and experiences.

— Ask someone to dance who seems eager for a partner. Grab your mother-in-law, your brother-in-law, or your something-in-law by the hand, lead him or her to the floor, smile, and appreciate the chance to dance.

— Remember that you won’t have to see many of these people until the next blessed event, whenever that is.

— Thank the bride, groom and their families for a lovely event. Even if you hated it, you’ve got some good stories to share and you gave your wonderful pets a short break from you.

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio joined Brides of Long Island founder Heather Cunningham asking the state to lessen wedding restrictions. Photo by Kimberly Brown

By Kimberly Brown

The Brides of Long Island organization, state Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) and other Republican lawmakers gathered at the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge last Friday, April 16, to call for action by Gov. Andrew D. Cuomo (D) to lessen the overly restrictive COVID-19 regulations on weddings.

Some of the state’s pandemic regulations include up to 150 guests or 50% of a venue’s capacity whichever is smaller with mandatory COVID-19 testing, distanced dancing in designated areas, congregating only at guests’ assigned tables, and wearing face coverings unless while eating or drinking.

Brides of Long Island founder Heather Cunningham. Photo by Kimberly Brown

Heather Cunningham, founder of The Brides of Long Island — a website and Facebook group that consists of thousands of brides across the Island — expressed her concern for the overmanagement of regulations the state has put in place, causing brides to postpone their weddings to unknown future dates.

“We take for granted that the world will wait for us, but time can take away a father who is supposed to dance with his daughter and it can send a fiancé halfway across the world in early deployment,” Cunningham said, “It may be easy for elected officials like Governor Cuomo to say that weddings are nothing but parties, but weddings are so much more than a party, they are the days that connect us to our roots, beliefs, values and to each other.”

Questioning the science behind the regulations around weddings, Giglio said the state government has gone too far when it comes to preventing COVID-19 in large gatherings.

“Honestly, does the virus pack up and leave after midnight or 1 a.m.?” Giglio said, “Because that’s what the governor wants you to do at your wedding — pack up and leave.”

Since the shutdown began last year, wedding businesses have been one of the many industries that have taken a hard hit financially. 

The wedding industry on Long Island generates an estimated $6 million a year in sales tax, as well as being one of the state’s largest employers.

John Salkowsky, owner of Silverfox Studios located in Lindenhurst, said the wedding industry has been brought to its knees, and lessening restrictions will help bring the businesses back to life.

“People make their decisions at the ballot box, and hopefully the governor will hear that and realize that by doing the right thing and lifting these restrictions will do great justice to this industry,” he said. 

Ronkonkoma business owner of Absolute Entertainment, Kevin McClafferty, said planning a wedding is supposed to be one of the most joyous experiences for couples. 

However, he has found that his clients are overly stressed when trying to plan their wedding around the state’s restrictions.

“A successful day at work for us is seeing exciting, smiling, happy faces — no masks,” he said. 

Pointing out the flaws in the state’s regulations and restrictions on weddings, McClafferty mentioned a few of the over-managed rules he observed while on the job. 

One of his observations included the state’s enforcement of “dance boxes,” where guests are allowed to use the dance floor in restricted zones with only the immediate members of their party. 

He said this is one of the most over-managed of all the reopening strategies.

“It’s a good idea in theory, but a terrible idea in application and needs to be eliminated now,” McClafferty said.

Brides who joined Cunningham last Friday also expressed their disappointment in not being able to plan their weddings properly, with some brides being forced to cancel or relocate their weddings to other states in order to celebrate appropriately. 

“We just want fair treatment.” Brittany Burton, an upcoming bride, said, “The people who are making the rules don’t see behind the scenes or worry about financials. They see money on their end before us.” 

With over 6,500 signatures as of April 20 on Cunningham’s BOLI petition, titled Lessen the Overly Restrictive COVID-19 Regulations on Long Island Weddings, the brides of Long Island are waiting to see if their voices will be heard.

The Miller Place Inn has temporarily closed to weddings after receiving a call from the NYSLA. Photo from the Miller Place Inn

The Miller Place Inn has temporarily halted wedding operations as of Oct. 9 at their banquet hall due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Donna Regina, co-owner of the Miller Place Inn, said the decision to temporarily close came after a courtesy call they received from the SLA.

“[An official] said he has orders from Albany to go to venues on Long Island and close them down if they’re not in compliance,” she said. “As of yesterday, they added no cocktail hour and at that point, it’s not a wedding. It’s not what the bride paid for.”

She said the rules are constantly changing.

“The governor tightened the noose on us,” she said. “Our capacity is 250 … Why do we have to have 50 guests?”

William Crowley, a spokesperson for the SLA, said the office received a complaint about weddings in excess of 50 people, and that an official called to warn and advise of the need to retain the 50-person limit and ensure social distancing.

He added that he reminded them there is no dancing allowed, even with masks.

Those set for weddings as early as Saturday, Oct. 17 also received the news Friday.

Selena Rodriguez, a bride from Brooklyn who was set to get married next weekend at the venue, said she got a phone call Thursday night from the Inn, saying they were shut down by the New York State Liquor Authority.

Rodriguez was told she can only postpone her wedding, but earlier in discussions she made it clear that the wedding needed to happen by the end of 2020, as her and her fiancé are moving across the country. They were planning a wedding of 40 people, well under the state’s limit.

She said because she physically cannot postpone her event, the Inn would not refund her money.

“You can’t make me have an event that I’m not going to be here for,” she said.

This comes nearly a week after a rally was held outside the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge where venue owners, wedding industry professionals, brides and elected officials begged the governor to loosen the maximum cap.

Christopher Regina, fellow co-owner of the Miller Place Inn, said they decided Thursday to temporarily halt events inside their venue because of the state’s 50-person limit.

The immediate closure decision was a “conscious one,” Donna added, because “the rules were too much to handle.”

“We cannot operate under these restrictions,” Christopher said. “When a wedding venue cannot hold at least 50 percent capacity, it’s very, very, very hard.”

Rodriguez added that her contract was “bare bones” and did not mention any clauses regarding the venue closing at their own discretion. The original call she received made it sound like the venue was claiming all venues on the island were being moderated by the state.

“They told me they got shut down by the SLA and they’re shutting everything down on Long Island,” she said.

The Miller Place Inn wanted to be clear that his venue did not close its doors permanently or lose its liquor license.

“That’s absolutely not true,” Christopher said.

Donna said that the Inn reached out to all the brides scheduled to get married up until early December.

“We told them simply we would work with you, move your date, provide out-of-house catering… We bent over backward for each bride,” she said. “We understand the brides are hurt. Their dream wedding can’t happen if they cannot get out of their seats.”

She added that claim from brides that they could not get refunds is “not true.”

“Our lawyer advised us we’re not able to refund anything within six months,” she said. “But we never punished a bride, never, so we moved eight months’ worth of weddings not to punish our brides … Every bride and groom has our cell phone numbers, anyone who knows us knows we will answer our phones.”

Caterers across the state also have filed a class-action lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo saying their businesses can be just as safe, if not safer. They argue that with many venues being able to hold more than 300 people, a 50 percent cap would still allow social distancing, with guests still being able to celebrate.

“Please talk to your local government and the people in Albany,” Christopher added. “They are the ones keeping us closed.”

Its plans to reopen fully are up in the air.

“When the government revokes the 50-person cap, but that’s up to them,” he said

METRO photo

We weren’t surprised when business owners in the wedding industry held a press conference Oct. 2 to appeal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). For months, while restaurants have been able to operate at 50% capacity, reception locations can only allow 50 guests at an event.

The 50-guest cap and arbitrary state guidelines have been concerns of several business owners in the wedding and party industry. These locals have shared their experiences with TBR News Media for articles in the last few months, and vendors weren’t quite sure what they could do or not do, as they have had little direct communication with the state.

While we understand the need for Cuomo’s administration to keep gatherings down to a minimum, there needs to be more continuity and empathy in the guidelines. With the support of legislators, a class-action lawsuit is being filed by caterers. Business owners at the press conference said they feel they can provide a safer party than those being thrown in homes and backyards since they have more space to social distance and need to follow higher cleanliness standards. Owners said they realize following the guidelines is imperative for not only safety but to keep their licenses — something a homeowner doesn’t need to entertain.

The business owners may have a chance. This summer a federal judge issued a temporary injunction to allow an upstate golf club to operate at 50% capacity for two weddings after the couples and co-owner of the club sued New York State. That owner said his restaurant had the capacity to seat 438 people, but while operating as a restaurant one night he could have more than 200 people, on a wedding night he could only have 50.

This example may leave one wondering how a person visiting a restaurant could potentially be around more than 50 strangers, but cannot sit with more than 50 family members, friends and acquaintances at a party, especially since many wedding venues are committed to following current public health guidelines, including discouraging dancing.

Like so many businesses, COVID-19 has had a tremendous negative financial effect on the wedding industry and many are hoping to get back on track or else they may have to close their doors forever. During the shutdowns, venues had no money coming in while still needing to pay rent and utility bills. This has had a trickle-down effect where photographers, videographers, DJs and bands are called for less work, and while bakeries may have made some wedding and other celebratory cakes, the orders are smaller in size than usual.

If venues get their way, it’s imperative that owners and employees follow public-health guidelines such as 50% occupancy, social distancing, banning dancing and enforcing mask wearing when people are not seated. Seeing how restaurants in our coverage areas have been able to come up with creative ways to serve their patrons safely, including turning parking lots into outdoor dining areas, using tents — even small ones for individual parties — we believe wedding venue owners will do the same.

Of course, keeping our local businesses open works both ways. It will take more than residents signing a petition to help these businesses stay afloat, it will also require people to follow public health guidelines. So, we implore individuals to be responsible as well. It’s up to all of us to stay 6 feet away from each other, wear a mask, wash our hands regularly and stay home when we are feeling ill.

There’s a certain positive energy in the air when people come together to celebrate, and even if they can’t hug, kiss or show off their moves on the dance floor, we’re sure the majority will appreciate being there for their loved ones just as much as having dinner at their favorite restaurant.

The Miller Place Inn has temporarily closed to weddings after receiving a call from the NYSLA. Photo from the Miller Place Inn

Part two of two

While wedding vendors are hoping for a brighter future as New York continues to reopen in phases during the coronavirus pandemic, recovery will likely take a while. Currently, gatherings such as weddings are limited to 50 people, according to New York State press secretary Caitlin Girouard.

East Setauket native Stefanie Fisher and her fiancé, Bryan Costello, below, were set to marry in Maryland this summer but postponed the large reception and will get married at her parents’ Three Village home this month. Photo from Stefanie Fisher

“We are working on additional guidance for these types of events but as we have reiterated many times one of the best ways to prevent the spread is to always wear a mask when social distancing is not possible,” Girouard said in an email.

The shutdowns over the last few months have caused huge financial losses for businesses in the wedding industry. Among them is the Miller Place Inn, which was built in 1850 and has been a wedding site for around 100 years.

Donna Regina, co-owner of the family business, said the last time a wedding was hosted at the venue was back in March, and after months of being closed due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order that shut down businesses deemed nonessential, the staff is looking forward to a small 50-person wedding that is planned for the beginning of August.

“It’s been financially devastating to take five months’ worth of weddings off the books,” she said, adding that even without being opened they still had a $1,600 electric bill.

She said once wedding venues had to close the owners knew the calendar had to be immediately cleared for March and April. Soon after they began receiving calls from couples who had large weddings planned for May and June who wanted to postpone due to having relatives coming out of state or older family members who are more susceptible to the coronavirus. She said some events even had to be postponed a couple of  times.

While many have postponed their weddings until 2021, Regina said there are still some dates available for next year. Some couples have already held small ceremonies at home and decided to hold off just the reception.

“That’s the couple that’s going to have a better time because they are going to come to have a party, because the commitment, that they already made,” she said. “Whatever they want to do, we’re behind them.”

The Miller Place Inn co-owner said planning to reopen has been difficult with no firm guidelines yet for event venues from the state.

“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “We don’t know where to turn because there is no one or no website that has factual information.”

 “We don’t know where to turn because there is no one or no website that has factual information.”

— Donna Regina

Regina said the lack of guidelines can be frustrating as they don’t have enough information to guide couples. However, while many may worry about dancing at weddings, she said the Miller Place Inn has a large dance floor that will allow for social distancing. She added they are also incorporating more cleaning precautions, have installed UVC lighting and employees will be wearing face coverings and plastic gloves in addition to the cloth ones they already wear.

Photographer’s Perspective

Photographer Ron Denenberg, co-owner of Renaissance Studio Photography in Smithtown along with his wife, Liz, said the last time he remembers a large number of wedding postponements was after 9/11. The studio has been located on Main Street since 1979.

“This is the worst,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Denenberg said he believes it will be a whole different world with weddings in the near future as more couples are planning smaller, less structured parties.

“I don’t see people planning big, big weddings,” he said. “I think people are going to be afraid there will be a second wave.”

The photographer said other milestone events have also been negatively impacted by the shutdowns and COVID-19. One bar mitzvah in March with 300 guests that his photographers were scheduled to cover, with people coming from all over the world, had to be postponed until October. He said many have also taken plans for weddings and other events and modified them to smaller occasions. Like wedding venues, there hasn’t been much income coming in for photographers the last few months.

However, the photographer is staying optimistic. He said through the years he and his wife have thought outside of the box to keep up with trends and are looking to see what people want during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to stay in business,” he said. “We love the business.”

One Couple’s Solution

Among the 2020 brides who are tackling the challenges of wedding planning during a pandemic is Stefanie Fisher, who grew up in East Setauket and now lives in Maryland. She and her fiancé, Bryan Costello, were set to wed this summer at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Maryland with about 175 people. While they decided to postpone the big reception until next year, they have planned a smaller ceremony with 26 people at Fisher’s parents’ home in East Setauket. Despite the day working out differently than expected, the bride-to-be said there are still things to look forward to with the couple’s new plan, especially since her parents always wanted her to get married at their house.

“Think about how you imagine your wedding, if that’s not possible right now, then wait until it is.”

— Stefanie Fisher

“I think it’s really special to be able to walk down the aisle in a place where I have so many wonderful memories over the years,” Fisher said. “I was excited to have all of our family and friends come down to Maryland for the wedding, but I’m especially excited to be married in an intimate setting at a place that means a lot to me. This DIY miniwedding has given us the chance to kind of put everyone to work to make it a special day.”

Fisher said her sister’s husband will officiate while her nephews will play the wedding march on keyboard and piano. Costello’s brother, who owns the Hicksville restaurant Peppercorns, will cater and her sister’s friend will be taking photos.

“It’s a wedding that everyone gets to feel they have a part in helping put together,” she said. “My parents’ neighbor even offered to chauffeur me from Danfords in his vintage Cadillac Eldorado. This unfortunate situation has had more silver linings than I would have thought and showed me how it really does take a village, and Bryan and I are so lucky to have such amazing people in our lives that are so excited to help make this day perfect. Our story isn’t what we expected but it’s more wonderful than we ever could have imagined.”

Fisher had advice for those who may need to change their ceremony and reception plans.

“Think about how you imagine your wedding, if that’s not possible right now, then wait until it is,” she said. “We all deserve to have the wedding we’ve dreamed about since we were little girls, but sometimes we just have to wait until the time is right. Look at your partner, is that person still your best friend? Do you still want to spend the rest of your life with  them? That’s not going to change whether you have your wedding in 2020 or 2021. You are lucky to have found your person and don’t lose sight of that being the most important part.”

Engaged couples such as Kim Mangels and Alex Yatron, from Huntington, have had to postpone their weddings due to COVID-19. Photo from Mangels

Part one of two

It’s not unusual to find a flow of wedding invitations following spring’s arrival. This year, however, COVID-19 has put a damper on celebrating love as engaged couples continue to postpone their big days.

A Bride’s Story

Huntington’s Kim Mangels, 30, said she and her fiancé Alex Yatron, 29, were set to tie the knot July 12, a date they chose in March of 2019.

Then the mandatory shutdowns due to the pandemic began. Mangels said fortunately they were able to move their ceremony and reception to July 11, 2021. When the pandemic first hit the U.S., the bride-to-be said they didn’t think it would last so long and affect their wedding date.

“We never imagined that it would end up being what it is now, that it’s changing everything, even life, for quite a while,” she said.

In the middle of April, she said they reached out to their venue, Crescent Beach Club in Bayville. They were optimistic at the time about weddings taking place in July. Two weeks later, the venue told her if they would prefer to postpone, they had to let them know by May 15. Mangels said that’s when they decided to change the date and weren’t up charged for the change.

She said it was easier for her and her fiancé since they were still in the middle of planning, and her dress wasn’t altered yet, so it would have been difficult to finalize aspects outside of the venue. As they look toward a new wedding date, Mangels said she and Yatron are pleased that they have more time to plan.

“We’re excited to celebrate after how crazy this whole year has been and to be able to see everyone we love in one place,” she said.

The Bates House decorated for a wedding. Photo from The Bates House

Empty Venue … for Now

Lise Hintze, manager of The Bates House in Setauket, located in Frank Melville Memorial Park, said she worked with many couples who not only had to postpone due to the pandemic but also some who were unable to continue planning their weddings with various vendors. One was a bride, she said, who found out a couple of months ago that her dress wouldn’t be ready for a July wedding even if it could be held. As of now, all weddings that were scheduled for 2020 at The Bates House have been pushed to 2021.

“The loss was tremendous for the park,” Hintze said.

The venue manager said a place like The Bates House has more pieces for the couple to take care of including caterers and decorators.

“There are so many more players in the circle with you so it’s hard,” she said. “It’s really hard.”

Hintze said while at first couples who had events scheduled for later in the year tried to take it day by day, many began to postpone their receptions as they feared a second wave of the coronavirus may come in the fall. Couples have told her how they don’t want to put older guests at risk of catching the virus or didn’t want to put guests in the uncomfortable position of making the decision themselves as to whether to attend or not.

Hintze said she has done her best to give couples various options, including getting married in a smaller, socially distanced ceremony outside, even though the venue itself cannot be used. She said some couples are still getting married on the day they originally chose and postponing the big party, while others are delaying both ceremony and reception.

The Bates House, which typically holds a wedding every weekend from the beginning of May to the end of October, is completely booked for 2021 as it already had weddings scheduled and then filled the open dates with postponed 2020 nuptials. Hintze said she left everyone on the calendar for 2020 though in case the state expands the parameters for large gatherings and couples decide they still want to have their parties on their original date.

“We’re excited to celebrate after how crazy this whole year has been and to be able to see everyone we love in one place.”

Kim Mangels

Florists’ Dilemmas

During the pandemic, planning floral arrangements and bouquets has been one part of the wedding puzzle that is difficult for couples to complete as many florists have been forced to close their doors.

Amanda Hagquist-LaMariana from Village Florist & Events in Stony Brook village said that sometimes flowers are one of the last things couples consider. In addition to cancellations due to the pandemic, being unable to plan in recent months has also slowed down businesses as many couples haven’t been able to tour their wedding venue or shop for dresses and tuxedos, among other things.

“A lot of things are usually in place before they come to meet with me,” she said.

During the shutdowns, Hagquist-LaMariana would send couples a questionnaire to fill out to get a feel for what they were looking for and spoke with them via phone and Zoom. She has been able to give a few estimates based on those conversations, but it’s a process that she said isn’t as organic as meeting in person where she and customers could look over photos, especially of events the florist has supplied flowers for in the past, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

“There are so many facets of the design that we do,” she said.

With Long Island entering Phase 3 of reopening, the florist said she looks forward to meeting with customers again. The cancellations that have occurred over the past few months have been a big financial blow to the business.

She said that during the first week of the shutdowns the florist had three weddings scheduled. At that point, the flowers and greenery, many of which are shipped internationally, were already purchased and could not be returned. While the events will still take place in the future, the florist will not charge the couples any additional fees.

“That was quite a loss,” she said. “It could have been worse timing, but it wasn’t great timing.”

To make the best of a bad situation, Hagquist-LaMariana, whose last wedding was March 7, used Facebook Live to sell the unused flowers in order to make up some of the costs.

“Our heads have been turning with the different ways that people have been managing to do things.”

Brian McCarthy

Brian McCarthy, James Cress Florist owner, said both the Smithtown and Port Jefferson Station locations that employ 40 full-time employees were required to shut down during the pandemic. Like the Stony Brook florist, he also has to order flowers from places out-of-state such as California, Holland and South America. McCarthy said as things began to unfold, some vendors worked with them, and they were able to cancel a few orders last minute.

“The growers have been dealing with us for decades,” he said. “They were very kind to us.”

McCarthy said there will be days in 2021 when they will need the help of drivers from at least one of their nine sister stores in other states to help with deliveries, because of the additional help, they haven’t had to turn anyone away who has rescheduled for 2021.

He said the biggest challenge is witnessing brides and grooms not having any definite answers. During the closure, shop manager Liz Guido helped couples plan future events by keeping in touch with all of them, and virtual wedding appointments are still available for initial consultations.

McCarthy said while they have had couples postpone until next year, they have also heard of couples that reduced the number of people at their ceremonies so they could still take place on the planned date.

“Our heads have been turning with the different ways that people have been managing to do things,” he said.

With seeing extremely scaled-down weddings and Sweet 16 parties, McCarthy said he thinks people are going to continue finding creative ways to have their special events.

“One thing about New Yorkers is they are as optimistic and creative as any place in the country,” he said. “They really are, and they’re determined to make sure that all these events that were planned are going to take place whatever time they can.”