BC wedding industry asking for government help during COVID-19 crisis

BC wedding industry asking for government help during COVID-19 crisis
WatchThanks to the realities of social distancing, the wedding season has ground to a halt. Many couples are forced to postpone or even cancel their special day. But one bride says a photographer she hired for her wedding has their hands tied, and cannot afford to help her out. It's something she says could be solved by government help. Julian Kolsut reports.

The wedding industry in B.C. says provincial and federal governments need to do more to help them during the COVID-19 crisis.

One bride says she has seen this first hand. Sarah Johnson had to change her wedding date, but is now out the almost 500 dollars she gave her photographer for a deposit.

“She is not available for the days our venue has,” said Johnson.

“Now has rather than offering to refund or any sort of money, she has offered to do family photos or different kinds of sessions to use up that deposit we paid her.”

Johnson’s photographer who doesn’t want her name used says she wishes she could give back the money but just can’t afford to.

Tamara Olson, president of the Vancouver Island Wedding Industry Association, says the whole industry is hurting and needs government help.

“A lot of vendors have the fear of weathering the storm, and whether they are going to get through it and come out at the end of it all,” she said.

“I think there is certainly a few of the smaller companies that will have to re-think their business and who they can offer to get through this part.”

She says many of the businesses are not eligible for the wage subsidies or loans being offered.

Many vendors agree.

“It’s really scary,” said Alexa Lofthouse, owner of Artistry By Alexa.

“To know that you have friends, who you have watched have put so much time and dedication into building these small businesses, and knowing they are feeling fear that what if they can’t move forward, and what is their business going to look like.  And having to come up with ways to pivot and new services to offer.”

Johnson, who understands she paid a non-refundable deposit, says she does sympathize.

“If they were all to refund everyone’s money they would be bankrupt,” said Johnson.”

“So maybe the government could step in and offer them a little bit of assistance too, rather than us brides are grooms having to forfeit everything we have put forth.”

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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