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It's not your wedding day - yet: COVID-19 gatecrashes weddings

According to research conducted by the Wedding Expo, the bridal industry was worth an estimated R20 billion a year.

Tasso Anestidis and Shanine Coles. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - As the bridal industry weighs the financial impact of thousands of cancelled or postponed weddings due to the COVID-19 lockdown, experts are confident the sector will recover even if it is only next year.

The well-known Wedding Expo cancelled its August event, which usually brought hundreds of entrepreneurs together under one roof to showcase their services to couples planning their nuptials.

According to research conducted by the Wedding Expo, the bridal industry is worth an estimated R20 billion a year.

The bridal industry is severely hit with service providers out of business and there are growing concerns they might only receive new bookings from next year.

Amanda Cunningham, the founder of the Wedding Expo, said the majority of brides who were supposed to get married in March and April had opted to postpone their weddings to either next year or even 2022.

Cunningham said many service providers were now reinventing their businesses in order to make a living.

“A cake baker said to me 'no one wants a wedding cake right now, but they do want bread'. She has turned her bakery into making bread,” she said.

WATCH: How COVID-19 has shifted SA’s wedding industry and the couples involved

Meanwhile, Precious Thamaga - better known as Precious the Planner from Precious Celebrations - said she also had to think out of the box to be able to stay afloat.

She launched a new business called The Perfect Send-Off, giving bereaved families a special day to remember their deceased loved ones.

“People still come to a church, a hall, or for a memorial. It’s still in the same service I’ve offered all these years, it’s just in a different setting,” she said.

Experts in the industry were hopeful operations would fully resume at least by next year.

Either way, there would be strict regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at large gatherings.

COUPLES FRUSTRATED

At the same time, Shanine Coles and her fiancé Tasso Anestidis would have celebrated two months of being husband and wife on Thursday if it weren’t for the lockdown that derailed their plans.

Coles said she was devastated when she had to call off her dream wedding, just days before she was due to walk down the isle.

“It was traumatising, I think I cried a lot. What else can you do? It took a long time for me to sort of make peace with it,” she said.

Avantika Seeth and Harsheen Patel were facing similar frustrations.

They were supposed to get married in front of 350 guests in April in a traditional Hindu wedding that was supposed to have lasted a few days.

Seeth said she had finally accepted that she would have to “uninvite” guests.

“We are looking at the possibility of just 50 people. It was really sad and depressing because obviously it was a difficult decision to make, but we knew it was the right thing to do,” she said.

Both couples said although they still wanted to have their dream weddings, they would not compromise the health of their guests.

Many service providers in the bridal industry were forced to put their passion on pause for now and think out of the box to stay afloat with the multi-billion-rand industry grinding to a standstill for more than two months.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.