The ever-expanding pool of oil once known as the Gulf of Mexico isn’t just crushing the local fishing industry; it’s also caused many couples who had planned waterfront weddings on the beaches of the Florida Panhandle to move their nuptials further inland.
Says one wedding planner who claims to have lost $12,000 in business since the oil spill began in April:
It’s not just me hurting: it’s the DJs, caterers, photographers, everyone involved… Sixty percent of my beach weddings are canceling. This is worse than a hurricane because we don’t know what is going to happen.
A non-denominational woman of the cloth says she usually performs about 40 weddings each year — most in the summer and early fall — but now has nothing on her calendar through July and nothing booked for the fall.
“It’s hurting everyone from the ministers to the people who put the chairs out on the beach,” she explains. “They are talking about fisherman — and that’s huge — but our wedding business along the Gulf Coast has been growing for years.”
But with the white sand of the Panhandle now being dotted with balls of tar, it’s a tough sell for couples hoping to have a picture-perfect ceremony.
The wedding manager for the Carillon Beach resort, which is predicting it will only host half of its yearly average of 40 weddings this year, says she cried tears of joy when a couple recently called to confirm their plans for the venue: “If I could have reached through the phone and hugged them, I would have.”
At the very least, those couples that decide to go ahead with waterfront weddings on the Gulf could have some interesting memories.
Recalls one recent bride:
My biggest concern was one hour before the wedding when I looked out on the beach and a hazmat crew had set up near our site… I have pictures of our wedding trellis and the hazmat team.