South Australia’s snap lockdown announced yesterday has already had a devastating impact on the wedding industry, with a number of couples having to pull the plug on their matrimonial plans just days before walking down the aisle.
For 27-year-old Christie Edwards, it was a case of “deja vu” for her and partner Tom Camp, having already cancelled one wedding set to take place in the Adelaide Hills in the early days of the pandemic in March.
This time around, they were given just two days’ notice – losing thousands of dollars again and leaving family who had travelled from interstate for the nuptials stranded for six days and facing 14 days of quarantine on their return home.
Speaking to news.com.au, Christie, who is 14 weeks pregnant with her first child, described the situation as “the most heartbreaking thing a couple could go through”.
“Just to go through the whole thing again, and this time we were two days short. It was supposed to be tomorrow so we are just so devastated, we’ve spent so long planning this,” Christie said.
“We just couldn’t believe it, we just looked at each other and I burst into tears,” she added of hearing yesterday’s announcement.
Christie explained that earlier this year, the couple had faced the difficult decision to reschedule their March wedding when COVID restrictions first came into play limiting guest numbers to just 10.
“At the start of the year, we didn’t know what COVID was or how long it was going to last either, so we felt quite unsafe having our money with these companies. We just asked for our money back and rescheduled at another venue. We actually held off cancelling for about two months before we even rebooked our wedding again.”
Restrictions surrounding weddings in South Australia have changed several times in 2020, from having a maximum of 10 people, numbers increasing to 100 people with a one person per 4sq m rule. In October, it was finally announced private functions at licensed premises could have up to 150 guests and dancing.
“As soon as we heard about COVID at the start of this week I said it just feels like deja vu. I just couldn’t believe it was happening again.
“Because we didn’t go into a full lockdown last time, when they mentioned the restrictions I thought maybe they were to cut it back to 50, but as soon as (Premier Steve Marshall) said ‘Nup it’s over,’ I just had no words.”
She added that they had tossed up setting a date in October after their first wedding didn’t go ahead, but had pushed it out to the end of November just to be safe.
“We really thought everything was going to work out. We went through the whole stage of restrictions easing and couldn’t believe our luck that we were going to be able to have dancing and mingling and people being able to stand up and drink,” she said of South Australia’s relaxed restrictions announced in October.
“That was my mindset, and then all of a sudden that was taken away completely”.
RELATED: Streets lay empty as SA locked down
Christie revealed the six-day “circuit breaker” lockdown’s impact on her wedding stung especially hard given she was planning to announce her pregnancy at the ceremony tomorrow.
“I’m 14 weeks pregnant and we were planning to announce our pregnancy during the ceremony, so postponing it any further really isn’t an option for us.
“I won’t be able to fit into my dress soon – I’ve already had it altered once.”
Further still, relatives from Darwin and Brisbane who had travelled down for the celebration are now facing extended time in quarantine – both in South Australia for six days and 14 days on their return after states slammed borders shut this week.
“My mum arrived this week and Tom’s mum arrived this week. When they go back home they’ll have to isolate in hotel quarantine for 14 days, so it’s put everybody out,” Christie said.
She estimated that in total, the wedding disaster combined with their cancelled Bali honeymoon had cost the young couple up to $6000.
“There are some contracts where there are no refunds at all. There are a few deposits where if we don’t proceed we will lose. We already lost a lot of money in March when we had to change venues, so there is a lot of loss of money when you’ve locked in these deposits, or you’re not able to cancel.
“Plus, it sounds silly in a way, but when you buy things for a wedding you buy it with your wedding date on it, so I just picked up my signage yesterday which says the 20th of November 2020. Things like that all add up.”
She concluded that the “big party” was no longer a priority.
“We just want to get married. The whole big party doesn’t really mean much to us anymore, or being able to dance, we just want to be able to go to our venue, have a beautiful ceremony and get it over and done with,” she said, adding that the staff at Golding Wines in Lobethal had been “incredible”, and offered to open up any day of the week for the pair to finally tie the knot when lockdown ends.
While South Australians are only under tough restrictions for the next six days at this stage, the implications of cancelled events this weekend has had a ripple effect on the industry.
Adelaide small business owner Kate Haines, who runs Kate’s Baking Co, told news.com.au three weddings she was making cakes for had been forced to cancel this week.
Overall, she lost 10 orders.
“Taking product out (which I had already gone and bought), it should have been around $1800 coming in this week,” she said.
“I’m worried once things open up events will be small again, too. It’s the bigger events that give me an income.”
Yesterday, Premier Steven Marshall and SA Health’s chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier made the shock announcement that the state was going into full lockdown, under some of the toughest restrictions in the world. The planned measures were to act as a “circuit breaker” for contact tracing after an outbreak stemmed from one of the city’s medi-hotels and spread to the northern suburbs.
The cluster has seen South Australians ordered to stay at home, schools and universities, pubs and restaurants shut and all but essential services closed.
There are very few reasons a person can leave their home, including going grocery shopping – which also has limitations – and essential workers doing their jobs.
Professor Spurrier said the strain of COVID-19 involved could spread from person to person within three days, adding that a short lockdown gave her team time to chase the next two generations of the virus.
“My team have been working around the clock to get everybody followed up to about the fourth generation,” she told ABC Radio today.
“That was a day or two ago and we know the fifth generation could be out there so we’re working to a really tight timeline to make all the phone calls and get people into quarantine.”
South Australia has recorded no new COVID-19 infections today, with the state’s total number of cases remaining at 551 with 35 considered active. Now, 23 people are linked to the Parafield cluster.