Holland Sanders was getting ready for the wedding of her dreams.
The public relations guru said she and her fiancé Mike Lopez had decided on a garden setting in south Fort Worth that would be a "really neat, magical experience."
“We didn’t want to do anything super traditional,” she said.
The couple recently started thinking about how the COVID-19 outbreak might affect their March 21 wedding date but felt everything was "going to be fine."
Then, they got a sobering email from one of their vendors saying, "We're worried."
“That was a real moment for us because it isn’t just about us," Sanders said. "There are a lot of people who are coming to our wedding, a lot of people who are working at our wedding… and that is honestly where the real consideration started.”
With one week to go, they put the wedding on hold.
Sanders is one of the many brides and grooms across Dallas-Fort Worth and the country who have made the difficult decision to postpone their weddings.
In some cases, the decisions have been made for them.
Kara Hunt and her fiancé, Spencer Elswick of Arlington, had just picked up their marriage license for their March 28 wedding and were having lunch when their Fort Worth venue asked them to call.
“They were like, 'We have to protect the employees and the people who are working here, and having 135 people on the ground just isn’t something that’s recommended right now,'” Hunt said.
The venue postponed their wedding; it’s now scheduled for June.
Hunt said she understands and doesn't want people’s safety to be at risk.
“I think it would be the elephant in the room for the guests who did show up,” she said of the disease outbreak.
Still, after months, or sometimes years, of planning and thousands of dollars spent, they are difficult situations for brides and grooms to be in.
“It’s kind of like you’ve been running this marathon and then, you’re at the last mile, and they’re like—no, wait, we’re going to reschedule this so you can actually come back and do it at another date,” Hunt said.
Cynthia Ramos Pope, owner of Cynthia Denise Events, is a long-time Fort Worth wedding planner who said she has already had five couples reschedule.
Another issue, she points out, is that cities and counties all have differing restrictions right now on how many people can congregate in one place, so each situation is unique.
But the common thread is the danger that’s posed right now when large groups of people gather.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that all U.S. events of 10 or more people be canceled or held virtually.
“In my heart or hearts, if it were my child, I’d tell them to postpone,” Ramos Pope said.
There are already so many variables in weddings that “when you add this on top of that, it becomes way too much stress for the bride and groom, and we don’t want that for their special day," she said.
Ramos Pope said venues and vendors are going above and beyond to accommodate the postponed weddings.
“We’re all heartbroken for our brides and grooms. Many have been planning for two years,” she said.
Wedding Wire, a popular wedding website and resource for those planning weddings, has been providing guidance online for those in this position. It recommends getting in touch with your vendors as soon as possible, checking in with your guests and consulting your insurance policy, if you purchased event insurance.
For Holland Sanders, who is now planning a September wedding, she said all of her vendors are local to Fort Worth and have been incredible to work with, allowing her to move their services to the new date.
“We want a wedding that’s full of joy and kisses and love and hugs and dancing your heart out, and we did not want a wedding that was going to be a place where people were afraid and where they were void of human connection,” she said.
While she still gets emotional talking about certain aspects of what’s happening, she said she and her fiancé feel they made the right decision.
Her brother, for instance, has an autoimmune illness, and some of their bridal party would be traveling from other places with the outbreak, including Scotland, San Francisco and New York City.
“Mike and I waited 10 years for this wedding. We can wait a few more months,” Sanders said.