• 79ºF

    New Virginia COVID-19 restrictions affect wedding, event planners

    ‘This industry has been hit the hardest’

    ROANOKE, Va. – Governor Ralph Northam’s latest COVID-19 restrictions will likely leave some couples waiting to say, “I do.”

    The limitations which took effect this week forbids most gatherings of more than 25 people, including weddings. Roanoke wedding and event planner Caroline LaRocca said it is the latest blow to an industry left reeling by COVID-19.

    “This industry has been hit the hardest,” LaRocca said. “The hospitality industry, restaurants, event spaces, and event planners.”

    LaRocca also operates the Penthouse at Center in the Square. She said her event and wedding bookings have been postponed en masse since COVID-19 took hold in Virginia.

    “85 percent of the weddings I booked for 2020 are rescheduled into 2021,” LaRocca said. “About 5 percent of them were canceled altogether.”

    LaRocca said the restrictions will not affect the wedding industry as much as it could have, since peak wedding season ended in the early fall. Additionally, she said many couples are exchanging their vows in small ceremonies while waiting for a larger reception in 2021.

    “We used to have intimate weddings with 75 people,” LaRocca said. “Now, we have micro weddings with between 10 and 25 people, depending on what we’re allowed to do.”

    Although some couples are adjusting, LaRocca said the new restrictions have made it hard to book new clients since there is no scheduled end date for them.

    “I’m not even going to set a new date, I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” LaRocca said. “That, for me, is emotional, so I can only imagine what it’s like when it’s your wedding day.”

    She worries some event planners could end up out of business but said she will persevere through COVID-19 however she can.

    “I’ve already decided, I’m not going to close my doors,” LaRocca said.