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How COVID-19 is affecting Washington weddings

Data pix.

Many couples spend an average of at least a year planning their wedding and dish out an average of between $30,000-$40,000.

Having to cancel or postpone can be emotionally and financially crushing. With so many unknowns in this unprecedented coronavirus outbreak and extreme social distancing measures in place, wedding planning has become more stressful than ever.

"It's very clear that you should not be getting married during this time, so everyone's just trying to make the best of it," says Seattle based wedding DJ Alan Chitlik.

Alan says he's already had several couples postpone their big day, which he recognizes is easier said than done.

"If you are willing to get married on something other than a Saturday, you probably still have some options," he said.

For soon-to-be bride Holly Shanelle, a client of Alan's, getting married on a week day made postponing easier.

"About three days ago our venue emailed us and let us know that they were offering to change dates without a change fee," said Holly.

She says pushing their date from April 29th to June 29th was surprisingly simple and cost-free.

"I would say that the stress it added was cancelled out. If we had to stick with the wedding date of April 29th I think it would be even more stressful."

But many brides aren't having an experience like Holly.

"It's so stressful that I've gone numb almost," said bride Kristin Milton.

She and her fiancé Chuck have long had their date of April 25th.

"We’re coming up on our final payments that are due for everything and we’re told pay now and maybe you’ll have a wedding later, maybe not," said Holly.

"It feels like we’re being forced to have it," Chuck said.

They're currently trying to weigh their options.

"Our venue has told us they’d allow us to reschedule but only if its within 90 days of our original date, and we don’t don’t feel comfortable doing that with how unpredictable all of this is."

The couple says other expenses appear to be nonrefundable no matter what.

"Our catering company has told us everything, your entire payment is due, in full, and then if we wanted to reschedule they would charge us an additional fee for that," said Holly.

The couple worries they'll be stuck paying about $11,000 for the food alone. And this is where this nightmare scenario gets complicated: how vendors, who already anticipate serious financial struggles because of the virus, are handling this.

"I have a friend who is a DJ in Snohomish County and he's had so many cancellations he's struggling to pay rent, so he literally was mowing lawns this weekend," said Alan.

Alan says if a couple cancels, he's going to give them a full refund. But he says for many vendors, that is a very difficult decision and could severely hurt their business.

"It's hard on the vendors too and we understand that, it's business and they need an income as well. But with such clear CDC and public health recommendations, we need to work together," said Kristin Milton.

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