Wedding industry hurting as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 1:02 PM EDT
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By: Marin Austin | CBS News

April 21, 2020

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The coronavirus has led to canceled or postponed weddings across the globe, and that's taking a huge toll on the wedding industry.

CBS News' Marin Austin spoke to business owners who are now struggling to stay afloat.

LA Banquets is usually filled with couples and wedding guests celebrating their big day. But now, the place is empty.

Vrej Sarkissian is the CEO of LA Banquets and has eight locations in Southern California. He says between his two companies, he puts on at least 1,000 weddings per year.

So far, Sarkissian says 140 couples have canceled or postponed weddings since the coronavirus outbreak.

"Do you have any idea how much money you have lost," the CBS reporter asked.

"Probably in the millions at this point," Sarkissian replied.

To be exact, he's lost $2.5 million at this point, and he isn't sure he'll be able to pay rent.

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

"The week was March 16th. We had 5 events, 3 of them were pretty decent sized weddings," Petals LA owners Saco Sarkissian said. "All of the product was ordered. Half of it was already picked up. All of that has been a loss."

Both brothers are counting on government stimulus to pay hundreds of furloughed employees. 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 weddings halls remain empty.

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