The banning of gatherings larger than five people has affected many planned events. Weddings, funerals, parties and many other types of events have had to be scaled down, postponed or cancelled outright.
Birthday celebrations, christenings, prayers, boat rides, parties and fundraising events were all also affected by measures the Government put in place to curb the spread of the covid19 virus in TT.
Newsday reached out to readers on Facebook to find out how their events had been affected. Keisha Chevalier said she cancelled her daughter’s christening, and Crystal James had to cancel her birthday celebration plans. Nadia Basdeo had to cancel her daughter’s sweet 16 birthday party, a prayer service, and a boat ride. Warren Chanansingh had to postpone his grandfather’s 40-day prayers. Sheriza Alexander’s church had to cancel its annual fundraising tea party and bonnet parade. The funds were to be used for the children in the congregation and to go towards its community fun day in August.
People have found various ways to use technology to ensure events can still take place, especially in the case of funerals. Some families have streamed funeral services on YouTube and Facebook for family members and friends who were not able to attend. Others were in the particularly heart-wrenching situation of not being able to have a funeral for their loved ones.
Weddings have been affected in a wide variety of ways. Some people scaled down their weddings with just the necessary number of people to carry out the ceremony. Others postponed their events to later in the year to avoid losing their deposits, and some cancelled their events altogether.
Founder and editor in chief of TrinidadWeddings.com Simone Sant-Ghuran said the 41 wedding and event professionals in her database had seen cancellations which amounted to $1,000,000 since the outbreak of covid19 virus in TT.
She said 95 per cent had experienced cancellations or postponements of their clients’ weddings and events, ranging from two to ten cancellations per professional.
She said most wedding planners have been giving free consultations to help offset the stress of cancellations. She said postponing a wedding involves an entire team of wedding vendors, a venue, an officiant and wedding guests. Other critical factors are the terms and conditions that are on couples’ contracts with vendors, including non-refundable fees, cancellation clauses, etc, she said.
Chief events officer (CEO) of Worriless Wedding and Events Natalie Orr said the company has had postponements rather than cancellations. She said the company also cancelled its Wedding Mock Showcase because of the restrictions on the number of people gathering in one place, and had put measures in place including online consultations, deposit transfer up to one year after the postponed date, and handling all vendor calls for clients who had to cancel.
Bride-to-be Tamara Ramlagan said at first she had postponed her wedding but had had to cancel it altogether. She said she had begun planning her wedding late, as it was supposed to take place in June, but once covid19 became an issue, no further planning could take place. This was especially an issue because some of the vendors she had booked refused to return her deposits.
“I was like, ‘Ok, I cannot proceed with booking and I better cut my losses and just shut it down now because it makes no sense trying to plan it when this covid19 is still around, I’d lose even more money,’ So I said let me just make the mature decision.
“I wish the vendors had been more reasonable, because there was no knowing that this situation would come up.
“My pundit and my pastor were also unwilling to officiate the ceremony at this time with a group larger than ten. My fiancé and our families decided that when everything settles down we will go to the Red House or do a small religious ceremony with immediate family.”
Owner of wedding planning business Fetes Accomplies Jean Campbell said she empathises with couples who have had to cancel their weddings, as they are feeling lost. She said cancellations have affected not only her, but those she would have employed to put weddings together. She said some people have done small weddings and plan to have the reception later, but others don’t want to do that because they don’t want to let go of the trappings that normally attend a ceremony. She said the longer the time between a ceremony and a reception, the less likely it was the reception would take place.
Campbell said the covid19 pandemic had disrupted the wedding industry to the extent that she thought there would be problems for weddings for the rest of the year.