Wedding planners, brides want 'seat at the table' in COVID-19 conversation with Governor Cooper

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Ashley Stallings is still planning to get married Sept. 18, 2020.

That is for now.

"You're usually worried about the weather and if too many people show up and having the right guest count," Stallings said. "When you get engaged, you don't think about anything that could happen. You only think about what your wonderful day is going to be like."

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COVID-19 has thrown a possible wrench into her plans along with the billion dollar wedding industry in North Carolina.

Right now, weddings ceremonies can be held with an unlimited number of guests because of the religious exemption. However, receptions can only be held indoors with 10 people and outdoors with 25.

"We want to help. We want to be a part of it. Let us guide you in what that might look like," said Keri Gloth, president of the International Live Events Association's or ILEA's Raleigh Durham Chapter.

The ILEA sent a letter this week asking for a "seat at the table" in the conversation.

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"There's so many vendors," Gloth said. "Look at transportation, floral designs, catering companies, production and audio visual folks hurting."
Kate Pope is a wedding photographer, who said she's lost 30 percent of her bookings. Like couples knowing whether or not to invite guests, vendors need time to get back into gear.

"The challenge with weddings is our clients spend years planning for these events and then suddenly everything is in upheaval and we just don't know how to move forward," Pope said.

Meantime, Ashley said her engagement party is postponed. She's hopeful to schedule another one later in the summer.

She'll make a call on the wedding itself in early July.

"We want to be mindful of everyone else's time as well," Ashley said. "Letting people know if they should plan to come to a September wedding or if they should plan to send us a photo of their face and put them on a chair. In the scheme of things, there's so many bigger things to worry about and we're just grateful we get to be together and thinking more so about what everyone else is going through."

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