The effects of the BP oil disaster are spilling over into the wedding industry of the Florida panhandle. Some wedding businesses are reporting as many as 60 percent of their weddings being canceled.
“By this time last year, I booked half of my weddings. Now, I don’t have any booked for next year. Brides are too scared,” said wedding coordinator Shelby Peaden of Shelby Peaden Events based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. “I used to receive 30-40 inquiries a month. I haven’t received any.”
Fulfilling a bride’s dreams and desires is how many wedding professionals along Florida’s west coast make their living.
But the oil spill is causing them to re-think their future on the Gulf.
“One of my florists lost $60,000 in cancelations. I know photographers who have considered moving to the East Coast or another state and starting over. But that is very hard to do for a coordinator,” Peaden said.
Wedding professionals are reaching out. Natural disaster clauses are a standard for Florida wedding professionals who are used to dealing with hurricanes. But the BP oil spill is man-made, which makes brides who cancel accountable for the balance.
So they are bringing in the pros with Florida’s largest legal law firms.
“We are trying to be compassionate toward our brides”, Peaden said. “We will have to make a claim to BP to get our money back.”
Back at home, the beaches of Ohio’s Lake Erie Coastal Trail offer refuge to a bride’s destination dream. Locations such as Maumee Bay State Park, Catawba Island and Headlands Beach State Park offer natural beaches and spectacular sunsets.
Maumee Bay Resort, which has recently received many last-minute bookings, is seeing increased business resulting from the tragedy down South.
“We just booked an August bride who was looking forward to going to Florida, but didn’t want to chance it,” said Sara Sander, event sales manager for Maumee Bay Lodge.
The proof is in the picture. You don’t need to go far for sun-setting splendor.
“Create the destination feel by choosing a site where you can all stay together and be a family”, said Kim Koluch of Considering Lilies Photography. “Having that togetherness [is more important] rather than where you are. You can’t fake that. A beach isn’t going to make that happen.”
But for brides holding strong to their plans, there are many websites that update beach conditions daily.
“There are still many places that are untouched,” Peaden said. “We know what it looks like today, but we don’t know about tomorrow.”
Brittany Craig is the principal event designer and coordinator for Crowning Celebrations. She specializes in wedding and social celebrations. Follow her Eventista blog at www.crowningcelebrations.blogspot.com.
Tags: BP, Eventista, oil spill