Wedding vendors asking state for more guidance, financial assistance

Normally wedding season would be getting into full swing right now. But large gatherings like weddings will be an unlikely scenario in the near future due to the pandemic.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – In a letter to lawmakers this week, the Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors is asking for more guidance for the pandemic, and financial assistance.

Normally wedding season would be getting into full swing right now. But large gatherings like weddings will be an unlikely scenario in the near future due to the pandemic.

“Our first concern is public health and safety, keeping our employees safe, keeping our clients safe. We don’t want to be the venue that is spreading this virus,” explained Kate DeCosta, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing for the Newport Experience.

Wedding vendors like Photographer Jennifer Neves say they’re at a loss for what to tell couples who are wondering whether to cancel or postpone their big day.

“We want to make sure that they’re happy, and they’re content, and comfortable about when their day comes,” said Neves. “But also on the flip side of that, is how do we survive?”

Like many businesses, wedding vendors are struggling to make ends meet. That led makeup artist Allison Barbera to pen that letter to elected officials explaining the unique problems they are facing, like with applying for small business loans like the Paycheck Protection Program.

“If you want your loan forgiven, you have to use it within eight weeks, 75 percent of it has to be for payroll,” explained Barbera. “The problem is with companies that have independent contractors, we only hire them when we have weddings. A lot of us don’t have weddings eight weeks from now.”

“In general, all these great tools are out there, they just don’t fall under our micro-business requirements,” said Neves.

Hospitality workers like DeCosta are hoping for clearer guidance from the governor soon.

“It’s not lost on her that this revenue is driving the economy,” said DeCosta. “So it’s really just getting an answer and getting support for everybody.”

In a statement a spokesperson for the governor simply said they are hoping to have some guidance within the next week about when certain sections of  the economy can begin to reopen, but that it will likely be some time before large gatherings are once again considered safe.

Categories: Coronavirus, Newport, News, Rhode Island