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Photographers in the wedding industry are seeing cancellations left and right and they're getting creative.

COURTESY PHOTO: ALEX ELISE PHOTO - Cat Dossett (center) shoots at a workshop in Bend last March.

With a statewide order to shelter-in-place due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, photographers in the wedding industry are seeing cancellations left and right.

Uncertainty over when this pandemic will end has led many would-be newlyweds to change plans — choosing to elope at a courthouse or push their wedding date back a year.

Being a wedding photographer is usually a pretty steady job, said Eugene-based Melissa Stickney said. "There's always going to be more and more people getting married each year," she said.

With current shelter-in-place orders causing couples to cancel or postpone their wedding photographers are becoming more flexible.

Brides today might call and ask Stickney to shoot an elopement at the drop of a hat. With courthouses also closing, things often have to happen quickly.

"I just feel like an on-call photographer," she said.

And she's all for it. She said she's willing to be flexible because she knows how hard it is to plan a wedding, and she couldn't imagine doing it during a time like this.

"It's just a scary time for everybody," she said.

Stickney has started offering "porch portraits" during this time. The package includes five edited images for $75 — and a promise that she'll stay six feet away. She said her hope with these packages is to document what's good in an uncertain time.

Cat Dossett, a wedding photographer based in Beaverton, travels all over the country to shoot weddings. She's cancelled eight flights already.

She's had five May weddings rescheduled and is talking with couples who have their weddings set for June and July about what all this could mean for them.

As a result she's not charging her clients to reschedule their weddings. Many others in the wedding industry are also being flexible, she said.

"I feel like everyone's really coming together," she said. "I can't imagine how these brides are feeling about having to move their entire weddings."

Portland based photographer Lauren Miles does shoots for families and businesses, but says about 90% of her work is wedding photography. She said all her May weddings have either been postponed or cancelled. COURTESY PHOTO: CASI YOST PHOTOGRAPHY - Lauren Miles, Portland wedding photographer, sees 2020 weddings rescheduled due to COVID-19

"Basically, all of my work for the next few months has been pushed back to later in the year or for 2021," Miles said.

Photographers are just one of the many professions in the wedding industry taking a hit right now. Closures, delayed deliveries, layoffs and statewide bans on public gathering all factor into a couple canceling or postponing their wedding.

Stickney got her first cancellation four days ago, for a wedding in July. She said things needed for that wedding wouldn't arrive in time because of delays due to the virus.

Plans inevitably have to change.

"Everything affects everything," she said. "I guess I'm kind of nervous to see what the rest of the year will be."

In the wedding industry, spring is a time for booking weddings, and no one is planning anything right now because of the uncertainties of the pandemic, she said.

Aside from the pandemic affecting weddings that are already booked, Miles suspects it's halting future weddings as well.

"Normally people would be booking for 2021 around this time … but with everything getting pushed back I'm not getting any of that revenue," she said.

She's gotten a few inquiries, she said, but none have booked.

"I think everything is just a waiting game at this point," she said.


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