Guadalajara, Mexico – Before COVID-19, Denisse Rodriguez was looking forward to a dream wedding at a hotel on the beach in Puerto Vallarta with hundreds of guests, but the realities of life during a pandemic have forced the bride-to-be and fiancé Martin Garcia to adjust their expectations.
“There have been many changes. Among other things, we had to make a reduction in guests. The initial list was 150 people and now it will be 60. Only 50 people can go to the Mass,” she tells EFE. “And we made a prevention kit for the guests with a face mask and a glass for each person.”
At the suggestion hosting the Nov. 6 nuptials, the reception will feature two separate dance floors to accommodate social distancing.
Yet even a scaled-down wedding may be out of reach if Mexican authorities decide to re-impose a lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Denisse and Martin have decided that they will wed on Nov. 6 come hell or high water.
“I believe it’s going to a beautiful party despite what we are experiencing because we will have our families and closest friends to celebrate our union as a couple,” Denisse said.
In Mexico, where COVID-19 has claimed more than 44,000 lives and infected 395,000 people in all, the pandemic is putting a damper on not only weddings, but also “quinceañeras,” the traditional big parties to celebrate a girl’s 15th birthday.
Social events such as weddings and quinceañeras are central to Mexican life and the basis of a “celebrations” industry – stores selling formal clothing, banquet halls, photographers, and musicians – that has lost millions of dollars due to the pandemic.
Carolina Vazquez, the founder and director of Ragazza Fashion, a Guadalajara-based maker of quinceañera dresses, told EFE that her company’s sales plummeted by 90 percent during the lockdown.
Once the restrictions were eased, Ragazza stores re-opened with pandemic protocols, while Vazquez and the rest of the design team began creating matching face masks for the gowns, which sell for prices north of $1,000.
“The business has to reinvent itself with a degree of protection, we human beings are meant for a life in society. It’s difficult to think how a joyous, jubilant, intimate celebration can be held with this (the pandemic), but we have seen that the clients and we as a brand have been able to get past that,” Vazquez said.
The danger of contagion is not enough to suppress Mexicans’ love of parties and celebrations, she said.
Monica Robles, a wedding planner, and manager of a banquet hall in the Guadalajara suburb of Tlajomulco, said that a lot of clients had to cancel weddings and parties because they lost their jobs.
“While we can hold events, these people were hurt by the pandemic: their salaries fell, they were let go and have no way to pay us,” she said. “The problem for them is money and they have to reschedule for next year.”
A photographer who specializes in weddings, David Valdovinos, told EFE that he has seen a “brutal difference” in his business.
Many couples prefer to postpone their nuptials until the spring or summer of 2021 in the hope that “everything returns to normal” than settle for something short of their ideal wedding, he said.