Business Buzz: Local Wedding Industry Scrambles to Find COVID-Safe Solutions

Leah LeMoineOctober 26, 2020
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A “Minimony” at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort; Photo by Deborah Brandon Photography
A “Minimony” at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort; Photo by Deborah Brandon Photography

The local wedding industry has scrambled to find creative, COVID-safe solutions.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something… signed by all your guests relieving you of COVID-19 culpability? It’s a strange new world for wedding venues around town, who have had to switch out water stations for hand sanitizing stations and crowded reception tables for socially distanced seating to make couples and guests feel safe.

“We completely changed our contract,” says Riëtte Bartlett, venue concierge at Warehouse215 @ Bentley Projects and owner of Downtown Phoenix Venues. In addition to date change flexibility and health protocols for guests and vendors, Warehouse215 now offers micro weddings (50 guests or fewer) and two-hour elopement packages (10 guests or fewer). “In hindsight, from a business perspective, we should have looked into micro weddings before,” Bartlett says. “We have people who are just trying to tie the knot with their closest family and friends… They’re still looking for a cool spot for photos.”

Resorts like the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia and Fairmont Scottsdale Princess have also introduced micro wedding packages. “We have reimagined the ceremony and dinner reception experience in a manner that balances safety and luxury successfully,” says John Glynn, director of public relations at the Princess. “Our team creates seating that adheres to social distancing and the attendees’ risk comfort factor.” Warehouse215 has done the same, along with a bracelet system to communicate guests’ comfort with interaction: “Red: ‘Don’t come near me.’ Yellow: ‘I’m fine to talk to you, but don’t touch me.’ And green is ‘I’m all for high-fives and hugging it out,’” Bartlett says.

The savings are almost as attractive to couples as the safety precautions. The Minimony package is “an unprecedented discount for a wedding at the Princess,” Glynn says. It starts at just $1,000 and includes a ceremony for up to 10 guests, use of the grounds for photos, Champagne toast and complimentary valet for weddings taking place in 2020, with optional add-ons at additional price points. “One of the more unique experiences that we are able to offer are fireworks, for after the ceremony,” Glynn says.

“There’s no 100 percent right answer” to coordinating events – or salvaging an industry that’s been hit hard by cancellations – Bartlett says. “We’re trying to do the best we can to make sure that our guests are safe.” Glynn echoes her sentiment. “We will always find a way to help people make memories.”

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