Valentina Marianetti swayed to the beat and held one hand on her turntable. While the music was playing, a man sitting at The Reef restaurant in Newport began tapping his foot. A toddler wiggled her legs to the rhythm as she passed the speaker.
This type of audience is still new to Marianetti, who goes professionally from “DJ Valentina”. Before COVID-19 hit, her job revolved almost entirely around weddings.
“That was my main bread and butter. Booked every weekend – – Friday Saturday Sunday. Sometimes on weekdays too, ”she said.
In a typical year, Marianetti could expect at least 80 weddings. But the pandemic forced most of her clients to cancel or postpone their events, and she believes she will be lucky enough to end the year at ten.
Marianetti has since turned to other venues like The Reef restaurant. But she doesn’t make up for her lost wedding proceeds.
“Oh my god. This industry has been hit so hard. All wedding professionals have completely stalled,” she said.
Newport hosts more than 500 weddings annually, according to Discover Newport – – mostly between late April and early October. That meant the Rhode Island closure that year froze the industry, just like the busy season would normally begin.
The state now allows outdoor catered weddings for up to 100 guests, but wedding professionals estimate they have already lost millions of dollars in revenue.
Discover Newport reported that more than half of the weddings scheduled earlier this season have been postponed to 2021. Another 25 percent were canceled altogether.
Others have been postponed until this fall – – and many have been converted into “micro-weddings,” reduced ceremonies, often with only a few dozen attendees. They’re an attractive replacement for couples who love to party, but they’re not that popular with wedding sellers.
“It’s all scalable,” said Kate DeCosta, chief operating officer of the Newport Experience, which operates several wedding venues across the city. “The price for a cake is between $ 9.50 and $ 11 each. So if you bake a cake for 200 people, you get a lot more income than if you cook for 20 people. “
DeCosta’s employees have shrunk from around 250 to 90 this season. And while micro-weddings have helped keep their business going, DeCosta says that everyone involved – – from caterers to florists – – makes a fraction of the income they would normally make. Some providers are not discontinued at all.
“I mean, it would be all from transportation – – You no longer need large buses and trolleys to move people around. It would be the dressmakers – – You no longer need ten bridesmaid dresses when you have a witness, ”DeCosta said. “Every single part of the wedding is affected.”
Stasia Anthony, a Newport wedding planner who owns Exquisite Events, said it was especially important for wedding professionals that summer ended. The COVID-19 pandemic turned their best time of year into a bad one, and when winter is over workers will have to get through another stretch with little business.
“January, February, March, and even often April are … They don’t make a lot of sales. So [the summer season] carries you through, ”said Anthony. “Now we do it – – and go through with no income. “
Some wedding professionals are adjusting to get through the tough year.
“Even though I’m an optimistic thinker, I think it’s still an uncomfortable feeling. The uncertainty of everything, ”said Marianetti.
Recently, she expanded her technical services to help with live streaming ceremonies. And she tries to convince couples that even a micro wedding needs a DJ.
Antonia Ayres-Brown can be reached at [email protected]