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There’s a lot that comes with wedding planning in terms of invites, venues, caterers, decorations, rings, dresses and suits, bachelor and bachelorette parties and much, much more.

But throwing in the coronavirus pandemic leaves many soon-to-weds with another challenging hurdle.

The virus outbreak arrived as summer weddings were just around the corner. But with uncertainty in the prospect, it’s put many weddings on hold or forced couples to make challenging decisions to either elope or set another date.

Gov. Jay Inslee implemented a four-phase process on May 4, but there are no guarantees counties will be allowed to advance to the subsequent phase. It’s all dependent on the status of COVID-19 and if there are positive signs of waning the disease.

When Washington state reaches Phase 3, gatherings of 50 people or less are allowed. And once the state enters Phase 4, all gatherings are allowed, which would be around mid-July.

“We were scheduled for June 20 at the cattle barn for a big wedding, but I didn’t think it was going to be possible with everything and then trying to have a big ceremony with five people didn’t seem very logical,” said Kelsey Chappelle, who decided to have a small ceremony on her and Zackery Fogle’s original date. The couple has been engaged for two years.

For Avery Wheeler and Cory Sly, they were slated to have the first wedding at Hotel Windrow, which officially opened at the beginning of the year. They were less than two weeks out with ample of family coming in from Southern California but were forced to cancel once Washington state’s mandate took effect on March 25. The couple’s date was April 4.

They’re thinking about delaying it to April 4 of 2021 at the same location but haven’t decided yet.

“It is disappointing, but I don’t have a choice really in the whole matter right now,” Wheeler said.

And the most stressful part? Having to call each guest individually to break the news.

“Yeah, that was pretty tough,” Wheeler said.


While Wheeler and Sly were extremely close to tying the knot, Christina Behrens and Roddy Pinnell haven’t been able to make progress with their wedding planning. The Cle Elum couple engaged last February and got as far as sending out Save the Date cards.

Their wedding is Sept. 5 during Labor Day weekend at the Teanaway Grange and said in June they’re going to “reevaluate the situation and make a decision from there.” They’re estimating 100-125 guests.

“We just kind of put everything at a halt,” Behrens said. “We don’t want to get too emotionally involved with it so I haven’t done any other planning. We’re just kind of waiting it out.”

The backup plan is to elope and have a reception later.

“I’m 32 so it took me 32 years to find him so I’m not going to put it off much longer,” Behrens said. “We want to start our lives together.”

Christi Collins and Brandon Johnson are planning to get hitched in the Big Island of Hawaii on Nov. 4, but Hawaii’s strict travel restrictions have them worrisome. It’s still six months away, but the status of COVID-19 and how long it will linger is unknown.

Gathering size won’t be a conundrum, as they’re keeping the wedding small with their respective parents and close friends.

“It’s going to be our honeymoon, too, so we’re hoping we can still go do excursions,” Collins said. “Are we still going to be able to go out and do a snorkeling trip or something? Or go out to different restaurants, things like that?”

Not only is it affecting future weds, but wedding venues, too, that are financially taking a hit.

Patrick Nolan, who’s managed Cabin Creek Lodge in Easton for five years, said roughly a dozen of their weddings have either been canceled or postponed. The 10,000 square-foot lodge is beside the Yakima River in the Wenatchee National Forest and is open year-round. It contains six bedrooms with 35 beds and 8.5 baths.

According to Nolan, the business has already lost over $100,000.

“We lost bookings in March, we lost everything in April, May, June and most of July,” he said.

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb


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