As Vermont weddings disappear, caterers, photographers and florists ad

As Vermont weddings disappear, caterers, photographers and florists adapt, seek other engagements

Robin Brown, of Thetford, Vt., picks up a takeout order from Barry Clarke at his East Thetford home on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Clarke has closed his catering business and refunded deposits, including to wedding clients. Instead, he is doing a weekly pickup from the end of his driveway.(Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. » Buy this Image

Photographer Sarah Priestap Porter, of Tunbridge, Vt., photographs Anna Dechert and Josh Harwood, also of Tunbridge, at the fairgrounds in town on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Having their engagement photos made, the couple are planning a 2021 wedding. (Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. » Buy this Image

Rita Champion, owner of Stitchdown Farm in Bethel, Vt., waters flower starts on Wednesday, May 13 2020. Also running a weekly floral CSA, Champion said the farm’s diversity should lessen the impact of wedding postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. » Buy this Image

Sarah Priestap Porter and her husband Jeff Porter spend time with their one-year-old daughter Lila at home in Tunbridge, Vt., on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the owners of Two of Us Wedding Photography have adjusted their business because the majority their 2020 clients’ weddings have either been scaled back or rescheduled to next year. (Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. » Buy this Image

Bouquets of flowers are ready to be picked up by CSA customers at Stitchdown Farm in Bethel, Vt., on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. » Buy this Image

EAST THETFORD — In April, Barry Clarke wrote an email to the 26 clients who had booked his services for the summer to let them know he wouldn’t be able to cater their event and was returning their deposits.

That wasn’t a problem. Most of them had canceled anyway.

“Seventy percent of my business is weddings,” said Clarke, owner of The Barefoot Gourmet, a “boutique catering” business that he runs out of his East Thetford home. “Or 70% of my business was weddings. I’ve canceled every event this year and next and returned all the deposits. There is no way I can put myself in an uncontrolled environment and bring it home.”

The “it” is COVID-19 and it has already largely wiped out Vermont’s lucrative wedding business for this year, a $164 million industry that supports scores of caterers, tent suppliers, photographers, florists, musicians and DJs who all provide services for the ceremony and celebration, not to mention hotels, […]

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