Wedding venues offer deals to brides who book during pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wedding venues are usually abuzz this time of year. Florists are coming and going on the weekends. Caterers are bringing in their fare for celebrations and musicians are setting up for nights filled with dancing.

Halls are empty now because of COVID-19 and small business owners are finding ways to fight through the pandemic to one day continue holding festivities.

"For it to be really quiet is super weird. We have this beautiful building that is just empty, and it's just really strange not to host events every weekend," said the Bradford owner Dana Kadwell.

She said it's a fine dance right now to keep cash flowing.

Kadwell explained that March, April and May usually account for 60 percent of yearly sales.

Heartbroken brides are rebooking and at the Bradford, most are trying for the end of summer or beginning of autumn

What those weddings will look like is up in the air.

These kinds of venues say they believe they fall under the same category as restaurants and bars, so state mandates will dictate how many guests can attend.

"It's hard to navigate it. We don't even know what to tell people really," Kadwell said.

On top of this, new bookings are few and far between.

There was just one in the month of March. That's compared to 11 at the same time last year.

Bookings at the Bradford were slightly better in April. Three couples have booked, but that's still a 75 percent drop from 2019.

Kadwell is now doing virtual tours through Zoom or FaceTime. This is the new norm since couples can no longer do walkthroughs in-person.

The space just underwent a major renovation. The ballroom has never been used. April brides were supposed to be the first to celebrate here.

"It's definitely been a labor of love, I'm not going to lie," Kadwell said.

She's anxious for couples to enjoy the space and is among venue owners eager to book clients.

If you're newly engaged, you could take advantage of a down market.

Kadwell said all those prime Saturday night dates are available, plus you can put a lot less down.

Before you had to give 50 percent. Now, some places are allowing couples to space out payments.

"We understand it's just a hard time right now," Kadwell said. "There's different ways to hold that date for them until everyone can kind of recover and get on their feet again."
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