Joining Forces Against the Wedding Crasher COVID-19
“There could be a meteor that can be coming to Earth and people are still going to get married,” said Victoria Schultz, a harp and piano musician for Disney who was furloughed and then told that she would not be returning to her job any time soon.
The sacred words of “For better or for worse, and in sickness and in health” took a completely new meaning and 2020 had no remorse. After months of looking for the perfect dress, having venues picked out, invitations sent and honeymoons planned, 2020 halted plans and paralized the world while seriously squashing or killing businesses.
Looking for picture-perfect in a world where chaos prevailed, Brevard County photographer Lauren Linahon chose to walk into the situation head on and showcase what some local wedding industry vendors had to offer with a stylized shoot. It was conceived with the intent to highlight local resources, talent and opportunities.
“I decided to do it because after COVID, the wedding industry took an enormous hit. Some of us have been sitting around doing whatever we can to make enough money to just get by since the shutdown in March,” Linahon said. “When Field Manor asked if I would be interested in hosting a styled shoot, I took it as an opportunity to get as many local faces into the mix as possible. I wanted to show everyone that the Space Coast and you can have the wedding of your dreams right here.”
The team of vendors joined forces with excitement in hopes of using this opportunity as a great networking adventure where each individual vendor could display their best wedding service in the midst of worldwide pandemic. Whether it was photos for their social media and marketing efforts or just meeting new business owners who were also trying to come back stronger, all the vendors gave their best to demonstrate their potential.
“I go to shoots not only for getting pictures of my work, but also to network with photographers, event planners and coordinators to see if maybe one of their clients needs a cake or dessert for their events,” said Daisy Herrera, owner of Daisy’s Delights.
“Many of the business owners were working together for the first time because we have so much talent right here in Brevard, and I really wanted to showcase what a Space Coast wedding looks like,” added Linahon.
Things went into a higher gear when Linahon posted on social media looking for a wedding couple for the shoot. Andrew Ward, a veteran, and his wife, Andrea, were chosen.
“We got married in 2012 and this is just wild. When I first messaged Lauren, I never thought [the shoot] would be this huge. I was mostly excited to get to wear a gown after seven years of marriage,” Andrea Ward said.
The couple married on Sept. 1, 2012 in Hawaii in what Ward described as “typical army fashion” with only 30 days notice before Andrew had to move due to permanent change in situation (PCS) orders.
“When the soldier has to PCS, either you love each other enough to get married or you don’t. We definitely knew we wanted to be together,” Andrea Ward said.
A photographer captured the moment, but they never had a traditional wedding. Making this experience extra special for the Wards was being able to include their son, Jack, now 4.
Linahon and Rochelle A. Hood from weVENTURE worked together on pre-production of the photoshoot and knew the focus was to let the vendors and their creativity shine.
“I deliberately kept a laid-back feel to the planning stages, and I really think that allowed each vendor to let their unique creative energy flow. The teamwork was so strong, I could feel it fill my heart,” Linahon said.
Creativity was the focus for makeup artist Christine McCuen, a licensed aesthetician and owner of Inspired Beauty.
“I love the opportunity to be creative and this has certainly allowed me to showcase and make something new,” she said. “Creating my own style... vintage boho.”
For some vendors, COVID was the impetus for breakthrough.
“I was furloughed from the hotel industry where I worked as a concierge at the Hilton Rialto of Melbourne on March 13, the day that everything happened. That’s when I decided I’ve been waiting for this dream of mine and I truly think it was God creating a way for me to be able to start it,” said Francesca Tuggle, the event florist and owner of Goldie’s Flower Truck. “People love the idea of being mobile so I can travel to other states with them.”
Pivoting and looking for growth or rebirth has been a mission shared by people worldwide.
“It’s been nice to see weddings come back into the books” said Brevard hairstylist Ophel Ramirez, who owns Beauty by O.R. “Micro wedding and smaller wedding parties, those that are much more intimate focusing more on family, it's what’s been happening. So I had to change and go mobile, since I realized that the people that had their own space or were mobile are the ones doing really good.”
The horse-and-carriage that delivered the couple into their fairytale may be traditional, but on this day, it seemed symbolic of a lifeline into a reshaped wedding industry. Those who are not altering their business model are trying to hold onto their existing one.
“I really miss seeing the brides and seeing their faces when they see what I created for their special day,” said Herrera from Daisy’s Delights an Orlando-based cake artist.
With changes in social protocols that greatly affect the wedding industry, businesses are saying, “I DO” and coming back stronger for the love of their customers.
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