SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Wedding industry advocates organized a “Walk for Weddings” at the State Capitol Tuesday.
Dozens of people were dressed in wedding attire while marching to demand guidance from the governor’s office for weddings.
“It’s a ‘Walk for Weddings’ and, essentially, what we’re doing is we’re trying to tell state legislators that they need to stop ignoring the events industry,” said Amy Ulkutekin, president of the California Association for Private Events, also known as CAPE.
Under the color-coded reopening tier system, Ulkutekin said the state has given zero guidance for weddings.
“A multi-billion-dollar industry that’s not even recognized under the four-tier system. So, the dog walkers have guidance but events do not,” Ulkutekin said.
She said under current state restrictions, commercial wedding receptions can’t happen in California.
“So right now, you can have a ceremony only, you cannot have a reception. But who wants to do that?” Ulkutekin explained. “No one wants to have a wedding ceremony and then just go home. So, that’s where we’re seeing an uptick in the bootleg events.”
Ulkutekin and other advocates said many couples are instead throwing underground weddings where COVID-19 can easily spread.
“I see people doing the Hora with 80 people in their backyard and unmasked people, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid,” Ulkutekin said.
Events planner Michelle Garibay came all the way from Temecula to march.
“I’ve had to postpone tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of events,” Garibay said.
She said so many other wedding businesses have failed.
“Businesses are closing down left and right,” Garibay said.
“Seventy-one percent of event businesses said that they will be out of business if they can’t resume by January,” Ulkutekin said.
Garibay and CAPE said they agree with some guidance from the state and that some of the recklessness in the underground weddings will be prevented by professionals within the wedding industry.
“I’m able to direct and steer that ship to make sure catering is following guidelines and we are being safe,” Garibay explained.
“Pretty much every state aside from California has guidance on events. We’re the only state that does not have guidance. Zero open, zero guidance,” Ulkutekin said.
Many of the people in the events industry who FOX40 spoke with said they are a small business and many of their colleagues and competitors really weren’t able to survive in 2020. They fear if something doesn’t change soon, they too might have to be forced to close their businesses.