Coronavirus upends wedding industry

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 2:36 PM EDT
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The coronavirus has led to canceled or postponed weddings across the globe, and that's taking a huge toll on the wedding industry.

LA Banquets is usually filled with couples and wedding guests celebrating their big day, but now the place is empty. The company's CEO, Vrej Sarkissian says 140 couples have canceled or postponed weddings at their eight locations since the coronavirus outbreak.

Reporter Marin Austin: You would have had a wedding planned for this coming weekend here?

Vrej Sarkissian: All three days, yes.

Reporter Marin Austin: About how many weddings do you guys put on a year?

Vrej Sarkissian: Between both companies? At least 1,000.

Reporter Marin Austin: Do you have any idea of how much money you have lost?

Vrej Sarkissian: Probably in the millions at this point.

About $2.5 million to be exact, and he isn't sure he'll be able to pay the rent.

Across the wedding industry, an entire ecosystem has been hit -- from photographers to caterers and vendors. But florists have been hit especially hard -- their product, perishing by the day.

"The week was March 16th. We had five events, three of them were pretty decent sized weddings. All of the product was ordered. Half of it was already picked up. All of that has been a loss," said Saco Sarkissian, Vrej's brother and the owner of Petals LA.

He has $20,000 worth of flowers sitting in his refrigerator. "It's really frustrating that the insurance I've had since the day I opened the shop -- we have business interruption insurance -- but they have a clause in there that they're not going to cover any of our losses. It's just ridiculous," Saco said.

Both brothers are counting on government stimulus to pay hundreds of furloughed employees, and Vrej has come up with a plan b. "Our teams have been very busy the last couple of weeks. We're getting ready to introduce our new to-go program," he said.

He also owns a catering company that is now selling meals for delivery. He hopes that will provide much needed income while the wedding halls remain empty.

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