Executive order has couples scrambling to alter, postpone and cancel weddings in Michigan

Niko's Landing, which would normally be booked this time of year, is now cancelling weddings.JPG
Niko's Landing, which would normally be booked in July and August, has been cancelling weddings.{ } (WWMT/Sam Knef)

Weddings are one of the many casualties of COVID-19 restrictions that change by the week and many have been drastically altered, postponed, or flat out cancelled.

The latest executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allows no more than 10 people to gather indoors for events throughout Michigan. Couples planning to get married this weekend had their plans derailed with the executive order, which was put out late Wednesday, July 29.

Ron Jones, the owner of Pro DJs in Battle Creek, said he does more than 200 weddings in a normal year, but he's down 90% in 2020, and has completely shifted to only doing outdoor events.

"It’s a tough call. We feel deeply for them too. We try to come up with different ideas for them. Maybe more games, less dancing. But it’s a different feel."

Keith Grafos, the owner of Niko's Landing in Kalamazoo, said the venue would be booked full in a normal year.

"And people would be in here this time of year decorating, getting ready, and celebrating their special day," Grafos said. "Unfortunately, with the most recent orders, again, we are back to square one."

Before Friday, July 31, 2020, venues could at least operate at 50 percent capacity for receptions. Niko's Landing's capacity is more than 250 people.

So, despite some postponements and cancellations, the venue was moving forward with some smaller events.

Grafos said there was one planned for the second weekend of August.

"With the most recent orders, we had to cancel that one as well," he said. "And it’s a difficult conversation. It’s very heartbreaking. People want to celebrate their special day, and their friends and family together, and they can’t do that.”

While the venue has been playing by the rules, Grafos said it's tough when those rules are changing by the week.

“With weddings, people want to mingle, get together, socialize, dance, and unfortunately, it’s very problematic, and doesn’t fit into the guidelines of what can be done," he said. “Every week, we look for what the new order is going to be, and what the new rules are that we have to abide by.”

With the latest change, he said many more are cancelling or postponing.

Jones said many couples are scrambling to move their receptions outdoors, but the cap is still at 100 people.

"I could see why they’d want to postpone it, so they can get that full effect of a true reception ceremony," Jones said.

With the uncertainty not going away anytime soon, both Jones and Grafos said even their advanced bookings for next year are down as well.

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