May 18, 2020
It’s been a bit over ten weeks since our last wedding of more than 10 guests, when COVID-19 began its progression across our country. We are very grateful to be healthy and safe. Beyond that, it is difficult to recap the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on our business and our team personally. I have decided the best way, in classic Tracy fashion, is to do it by the numbers.
Since early March 2020….
We rescheduled 83 couples who were affected from March to June (not everyone has chosen a new date yet). It has been a bit of a roller coaster while we evaluated every update from our federal, state, county and local governments to advise our existing clients and decide what to do with the information that came to us, which was sometimes conflicting and vague. For example, Georgia’s judiciary, which is responsible for marriage licenses, is not subject to the governor’s orders because of the separation of powers, and each of the 159 counties was allowed to make their own orders.
We lost a lot of money, but were able to get a Paycheck Protection Loan, even if it was a too late to save the Savannah Cozy Chapel. Our elopement and intimate wedding packages have been very successful in part because I am a good businesswomen, and that includes making financial projections. As it became clearer that COVID-19 would have a longer term financial impact on us as potential clients limited travel for the next year, I began crunching numbers and decided that it did not make sense for me to keep the Savannah Cozy Chapel open if we could not socially distance inside. I married over 600 couples there since 2016 and it was a sad decision.
I applied for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan in early April and was approved 28 days later, after I decided that the chapel had to close. Our local newspaper, the Savannah Morning News, followed my journey. It was the right decision. Luckly, many members of our team were helped by the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, but the financial impact of losing an entire season will be felt a long time, no matter how good I am at planning.
The absence of our couples and our work was more emotionally devastating than I expected. Being part of the most important day of your lives is a privilege and it is an energy that fulfills me. I often felt like my air was being taken from me in April. While some businesses were able to be super productive during this time… I found myself dealing with sadness that came in waves, often triggered by the most unexpected thing and unable to move forward on projects. Also, while there are many things that I have loved about having my son home, it is hard to not have the space that I am used to. I may be a mom, but I am also an only child.
But now, as we come to mid-May, it is time to begin reopening our business and serving small gatherings again for new clients.
Over the last ten days, we have found increased demand for elopements and after reviewing sources we trust, we believe we can meet it… safely. One of the factors that made me decide this was an interview with a Professor of Immunology who I have been following through this, Erin Bromage, who has detailed the science on how difficult it is to transmit COVID-19 in outside settings. In one of his latest interviews, he said “I think outdoor weddings are going to be everything this summer.”
We hope that you trust us and our experience working with hundreds of couples in the Savannah community to be the people to help you get married during the summer of 2020. To aide our reopening, we have created the following guidelines we will ask our new clients to acknowledge at booking.
The 7 Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements COVID-19 Safety Principles for Summer 2020 Elopements
We hope this helps you as you make your summer plans. We continue to take more conventional bookings for fall 2020 and beyond. Thanks for all of your support during this difficult time.
Until next time,