Flathead Valley wedding venues hit hard by coronavirus

Posted at 8:14 AM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 10:14:45-04

The Flathead Valley, one of the top destinations in the state for weddings, has been significant impacted by coronavirus.

Lorraine Wilson is the owner of Mountainside Weddings and told MTN that the coronavirus has set her company back hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It impacted us about $150,000 and it's also going to impact us next year about $100,000," said Wilson "So, it's about a quarter-of-a-million dollar hit overall."

She said that the virus moved 50 percent of their weddings to next year.

And she's noticing a trend. In place of bigger weddings this year, many are opting for micro-weddings.

"Some of our other ones, they're downsizing from like 120 people to like 50 or 60 people," she said.

She added that most of the bigger weddings are being postponed until 2021.

Wedding photographer Kelly Kirksey said she's had over 11 wedding cancellations because of the virus. And she's had to adjust to a new normal when she's working with her clients.

"I'm very much used to being right there with couples and even moving their arms or getting hair out of their face," said Kirksey. "I've really had to step back and be like 'oh wait, I can't hug you, bye.'"

Both Kirksey and Wilson applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan which can be applied for here.

Kirskey says the EIDL made up for a huge portion of what she lost.

"I was able to get, and make up for what I lost, everything that I lost for in the summer," said Kirksey. "Which is great. It is a loan, it's very low interest. It was a really great solution and it really saved our life."

Wilson said that she's had to hire extra staff to help with unexpected costs like cleaning or to enforce social distancing.

"Our couples would put out galvanized buckets or canoes and they would just fill it with like beer and all the guests would just serve themselves," she said. "But nobody does that anymore we can't have 100 hands in the cookie jars."

Dax VanFossen, brand ambassador with Flathead Lake Lodge, said that the lodge typically hosts destination weddings, but has no weddings at all this year because of the virus.

"People that were thinking about elderly family members and if they should be coming to a mass family gathering and that sort of thing," said VanFossen.