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Coronavirus causes wedding woes

Elicia Mailhoit and her finance Brian pose while she shows off her engagement ring

After getting home from her vacation to Seattle, Washington in August of 2018, newly engaged Elicia Mailhiot got right to work planning for her wedding. Looking left and right at potential venues and tapping her phone dialing several bridesmaids for help, she had her wedding venue picked out by September of 2018.

Now it is 2020, the COVID-19 virus is spreading and Mailhiot is stressing about her upcoming big day.

“It never occurred to me that this would be something that I had to worry about. I woke up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, I’d say a month ago when things looked like it might be getting serious, and the first thing that came to mind was that I need wedding insurance,” said Mailhiot, Castleton University’s media coordinator.

The Stage

The wedding is set for June 2020 at the Manchester Inn. They chose this location because her fiancé, Brian, is from the Manchester area originally. To Mailhiot, the Manchester Inn is the quintessential Vermont experience and she fell in love with it instantly.

She describes the inn as “beautiful.” The red barn with the historic white inn, the grounds, the insides, everything is just beautiful, she said. It’s one of those places you visit, and you just know that’s it. No questions asked, she said.

The Manchester Inn has been welcoming guests since the 1940s. With the new COVID-19 virus, many reservations have been canceled or moved due to the new Vermont government regulations, inn officials said. But they seem optimistic saying they have many repeat guests who are sure to be rebooking later this year.

Elicia and Brian pose in front of a large red barn

“We are supportive and understanding that this is a sensitive time. It is new to all of us and we are working with each reservation individually to make sure everyone has the experience they would like,” said Nancy Haynes, events coordinator at the Manchester Inn.

Haynes says everybody at the inn is concerned about the health and safety of their guests, staff, friends, and family, hoping everyone is staying safe and healthy.

When asked about how this pandemic will affect the rest of the resort industry, Haynes said she hopes this will bring more businesses together and form a community more than a competition when the virus dissipates.

Similar Woes

The restrictions on travel and lodging is the main reason why the Manchester Inn has shut its doors until further notice. Basin Harbor, another popular resort located in Addison County, is following suit since the news of the virus in Vermont broke out.

“It was certainly concerning at first. A global situation like this is unprecedented, at least in our time, so we didn’t expect all the things that came next,” said Karina Petoe, director of sales and marketing at Basin Harbor, when asked how the office reacted to news of the spreading virus.

Basin Harbor has had to postpone many weddings for the 2020 season due to COVID-19. As reported by WCAX on March 25, 2020, Giuliana Vetrano scheduled a 320-person wedding at the resort only to have it postponed from May to now October.

Petoe also said that she feels for those who are essentially waiting to find out if their big day can go off as planned, adding that there have been “many tearful phone calls” from people who only want their wedding at Basin Harbor.

“The overall uncertainty is hard for us and for our clients to deal with. We want to be as supportive as we can and give them answers, but we are just as in the dark as they are about what the future holds,” she said

Weddings are big productions, with a lot of moving parts, from the photographer and the band to the photobooth and florist and notifying all the guests, Petoe said.

“There is a lot to be considered in postponing a date,” she said. “We can only do our best to help them as much as possible! Once it is decided, it is a fairly simply contract addendum process to move all information and payments over to apply to a new date.”

Local bakeries and greenhouses like the Shaw’s Superstar Market Bakery Department and the Four Seasons Greenhouse are popular in Addison County when it comes to weddings and events. Both places reported a change in their normal season claiming fewer cakes are being decorated in the bakery and there is less of a demand for flowers at the Four Seasons.

When asked how Basin Harbor sees the COVID-19 virus affecting the resort business, Petoe foresees some folks being afraid to travel for a while but said some will be excited to get out of their house and plan staycations after being cooped up all April.

The Big Day

“I hope it is that big 150-person wedding with all of our close friends and family and the people we want to see most, but we are also not naive enough to know that it could just be me and Brian and our parents and our siblings, and hopefully we later would have that big celebration we planned,” Mailhiot said when asked about her ideal wedding.

Mailhiot said a lot of family is coming from the local area but people are also expected from places more heavily affected by the pandemic like Las Vegas, Washington State, New York City, North Carolina, and Seattle, where her future brother in-law and his family live. If they can’t come, Mailhiot says their day just won’t be the same.

While June is in the safe zone to most optimists when talking about the COVID-19 virus, Mailhiot and the Manchester Inn are both crossing their fingers that everything goes as planned. Mailhiot claims she gets daily calls from friends and family both very positive and also very worried.

For now, Mailhiot keeps herself busy starting to get things ready for the wedding like decor and invitations, but it is hard not to be able to go anywhere. She thinks about how anxious most brides must feel having planned to be married during this pandemic and waiting to hear it won’t happen. Her heart goes out to them and she hopes they reschedule and not cancel their big days.

While it is a weird time for Mailhiot and her fiancé as they are stuck not sure when things are happening, and when to buy, they leave out set dates while planning pieces of their wedding.

“We are in a really awkward time right now, with nobody being sure what is happening. But one thing I know is I am getting married on June 27th, 2020,” she said.