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Love in the time of COVID-19: Virus threat silences wedding bells across Jordan

By Maria Weldali - Mar 16,2020 - Last updated at Mar 16,2020

AMMAN — The Kingdom’s wedding industry has entered crisis mode in the midst of the current coronavirus distress, dimming engaged couples’ enthusiasm, halting honeymoon travel plans and shutting the doors of event venues.

“The excitement and joy of the final wedding dress fitting and alterations and the remarkable moments that come with this special countdown have faded because of the uncertainty caused by the rapid spread of the disease,” a 24-year-old bride in Amman, whose wedding date was set for March 20, told The Jordan Times on Monday.

The bride, who planned on going to Istanbul on her honeymoon, added that the trip has been cancelled amidst the international travel restrictions. 

The flight tickets, she said, are non-refundable and most people are not entitled to compensation. This has created a “huge” loss for her and her groom, as well as other young couples who are just starting their lives together.

The only “silver lining” to this catastrophic situation is that the wedding venue management cooperated and postponed the wedding until June 15 without any additional fees, the bride noted. 

However, she noted that many wedding venues are charging happy couples extra for postponements as most weddings scheduled for spring have been delayed until summer, the industry’s peak season.

The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) announced on Monday a decision to close all wedding venues, billiards halls and video gaming centres as precautionary measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Booking a wedding venue during less-preferable wedding dates, such as during an off-season month or on a weekday costs between JD1,200 and JD1,900, Saif Abu Afiye, an employee at a wedding venue, told The Jordan Times on Monday.

“All venues are more expensive during the busy season, but the additional expenses for the postponed weddings will not exceed JD300, especially with the Kingdom’s critical economic conditions,” he said.

As for the floral industry, activity in one flower shop decreased “dramatically” by at least 70 per cent over the last five days, according to florist Wael Ammour, who owns the shop.

Ammour told The Jordan Times on Monday over the phone that the year began with difficult financial conditions and a “sharp” drop in sales and revenues, so this wedding cancellation hit has brought the market “to its edge”.

“Flowers are among the luxury goods which citizens refrain from buying during unknown and emergency situations,” he commented.

An owner of a wedding dresses boutique who preferred to remain anonymous told The Jordan Times on Monday that the shop has seen the negative impact of wedding postponements, noting that “brides’ white dress dreams have been dashed”. 

“Currently all of our brides have postponed their weddings,” she noted.

Spa and beauty lounge owner Sarah Ali said in a statement to The Jordan Times on Monday that soon-to-be brides and grooms are “not going to tie the knot that soon”, adding that, as brides are putting off their special day ceremonies, make-up, hair, nails and spa appointments have been rescheduled to at least three months down the road.

Amman-based wedding planner Firas Abu Fares said that his business has “come to a halt”, pointing out that his company stopped all online advertisements two days ago given the market’s “frozen” state.

“As an authorised wedding planning company, we sign contracts with our customers, therefore they are in the safe zone and the prices will not go up,” he added.


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