'Love will conquer all': COVID-19 threatens wedding plans for couples, businesses

Addie Green has the wedding of her dreams all planned out.

She's going to get married at the Picaroons Roundhouse in Fredericton and celebrate with a southern appetizer buffet with pulled pork sliders.

Then, she and her fiancé, Joel Southam, will sail away on a houseboat along the St. John River near Mactaquac Provincial Park. 

Green never dreamed a pandemic would disrupt these plans. New Brunswick is under a state of emergency, people can't  gather, and all but essential businesses are shut down as the province tries to slow the spread of the virus.

"It's very surreal, I haven't allowed myself to be emotionally burdened yet, just because we have some glimmer of hope we're holding onto in our hearts," said Green.

The 29-year-old grew up in Centreville, near the Maine border, but lives in Vancouver with Joel, 31.

Photo: Evergreen Photography by Dani Corey

They're supposed marry May 16 — almost three years ago exactly from the day they met working in the Alberta oilsands. 

"My heart has been looking forward to that date for so long." 

The couple give themselves until April 1 to decide whether to cancel or postpone.

"Everyday that it grows closer, it's becoming a little bit more dark," she said. "We're mentally preparing ourselves for the worst-case scenario."

About 150 people were invited to the wedding, including guests from North Carolina— where Southam's family is from — and Ontario.  

But Green reminds herself their love is unchanging, and everything will work out in the end.

"Love will conquer all."

'It's devastating'

Jonathan Allport has his suit all paid for. And his fiancée, Colleen Brown, has her wedding dress hanging in the closet at their Sussex home.

Now they're waiting. 

"All of it has kind of been put on question mark." 

Allport, 27, and Brown, 26, hope to get married May. 30 in Saint Andrews.

They planned to have their ceremony on the rooftop patio of the Algonquin Resort with 85 friends and family members.

"It's devastating really," Allport said. "Even before we were engaged, we knew we wanted to get married and start living our lives together."

High school sweethearts

The couple met in Grade 11 at Sir James Dunn Academy in Saint Andrews and have been together more than 10 years.

Allport proposed as they played gin rummy in their kitchen a year ago Tuesday. 

"She was a puddle, like I expected her to be."

Photo: Facebook

They have a call with the Algonquin this week to discuss next steps.  

"At the end of the day, I can't fret over something I can't control."

The couple might have a small ceremony in May and celebrate with a large group later. 

"To me, a wedding isn't about the celebration, the wedding is about getting married," Allport said. "And that is what Colleen and I both want for each other." 

Years of planning 

Last week, Erika Paquin sat in silence for an hour, surrounded by glittery prom dresses and white puffy wedding gowns at her store in Oromocto. She had just found out her business had to close as it's not an essential service.

"It's sad, you put so much work into your business."

Everybody deserves the best wedding day. - Lacey Porter, owner of Chantilly Lace Events

Paquin is worried about paying bills and her staff and about her own income.

"There's so much that's basically unknown," she said from her home in Harvey, outside Fredericton.

Paquin has been selling wedding dresses for 10 years and has the only bridal store in the Fredericton area.

Photo: Jordan Julianna Photography

"It's scary, just as a business owner," she said. "We will need local support."

Bridal dresses are still delivered to her store. And she's hopeful the outbreak will be in the past by May, so her brides can have their dream weddings.

"Girls spend up to two years planning their weddings now."

Stay realistic 

Earlier in March, after the chief medical officer of health recommended postponing or cancelling events with more than 150 people, Stacey Murray wanted to be proactive.

So the owner of Tale of Two Wedding Coordination is providing free 15-minute phone and FaceTime consultations for anyone getting married in 2020 who wants to discuss options.

Photo: Shannon-May Photography

"They're very stressed out," she said. "They're not sure what to do. And honestly, nobody knows what to do at this point."

She has six weddings planned from May to October. Some couples have considered cancelling. She recommends people postpone their weddings, because the industry relies so heavily on these events. 

"I just feel like you need to be realistic at this point." 

'Power in positivity'

Lacey Porter, owner of Chantilly Lace Events, said the major stresses about wedding season include anything from the choice of flowers to whether the RSVPs have been returned on time.

But this year has been unique, and she's taking each day as it comes.

"There's power in positivity and there's power in community," she said. "We're all in this together."

She's telling her clients to hold off on cancelling their weddings. And if a wedding date is looming, she's asking people to postpone — so they can continue to support local businesses.

Photo: Julie Whitlock Photography

But her biggest piece of advice for couples? Have full communication with their vendor. 

"You're going to get married at some point to the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with."

Porter has just over 50 weddings between the end of May and October. So far, none of her clients have cancelled. 

Wedding show postponed

Her First Comes Love event was supposed to happen in Fredericton on Saturday, a wedding and lifestyle showcase that includes more than 30 vendors from the wedding industry.

The event has now been postponed until May. 

"I'm a planner, I want things to go a certain way," Porter said.

In the meantime, Porter is trying to stay positive. She's grateful wedding season is still several weeks away. 

"Everybody deserves the best wedding day."