Jamaica: Virus forces couples to push back weddings

Jamaica: Virus forces couples to push back weddings
Gabrielle Leslie and her groom-to-be, John Osborne.
Gabrielle Leslie and her groom-to-be, John Osborne.

(JAMAICA STAR) – After 10 months of planning for the perfect day to tie the knot, Gabrielle Leslie and her groom-to-be, John Osborne, have been forced to postpone their wedding.

The pair, who got engaged in November 2018, lives in the US and had planned a destination wedding in Jamaica for this spring.

All was set for a magical day, but with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the couple had no choice but to reschedule their dream wedding.

“It was a hard decision, but we have to deal with it,” Leslie told THE WEEKEND STAR.

“After I sent out emails to our guests to let them know that the wedding will be rescheduled, that’s when I was most sad because everyone was excited and prepared for it, especially my grandfather. He would call me every day to talk about it,” she added.

Persons like Leslie and Osborne have had to put wedding plans on hold due to various anti-COVID-19 rules implemented to contain the virus. In addition to closing its borders to incoming passengers, the Jamaican Government has announced restrictions on the number of persons that can gather in the same space. Most, if not all, hotels on the island have closed, and the country’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, said that tighter gathering restrictions may be imposed to contain the virus’ spread.

Leslie and her fiance were hoping that COVID-19 would not have affected their big day.

“We didn’t think things would have got so drastic. We were following up and watching the news. At the beginning of March, we had no doubts about anything. It wasn’t until like, March 8, until a lot of things had started to close down, and we had to cancel on March 15, the wedding was supposed to be held on April 23,” Leslie said.

The lovebirds have not given up on having the dream wedding they spent the last 10 months planning. Leslie, whose parents are Jamaicans, told THE WEEKEND STAR that she was still looking forward to having her wedding in Jamaica sometime in November.

Wedding planner Helen Graham of Helen G events, who was organising the wedding, told THE WEEKEND STAR that she was just as disappointed about the postponement.

“It is very stressful because this is a day that persons dream of and were looking forward to. They would have been planning for over a year, booked hotels rooms, purchased tickets, and in a short space of time, it’s not going to happen, and now trying to come up with another date, not knowing what the future holds, is disappointing,” she said.


Graham said that several other nuptials are being pushed back because of COVID-19.

“As a wedding planner, you’re not earning until the events happen. The average planner earns $60,000 to $300,000 on an event. Now, the income is basically down to zero,” she said.

Quida Gail Goss, who lives in Jamaica, was preparing to wed her best friend, Sheldon Goulbourne, this Saturday. They have had to postpone.

“To be honest, it’s devastating, but there really was no choice in the matter, so I guess I can’t complain. I would have wanted to get it out of the way because this is something we’ve been planning for two years, so postponing it a week or two before is not fun,” she said.

“A part of my bridal party was coming from overseas, mostly from the United Kingdom, so they had to cancel. It is very disappointing, but it is all for the best because I want a wedding that’s more like a family reunion,” she added.

Kara-Ann Boyde Anderson, creative director at Petals and Promises, the company that was organising Quida’s big day, said they have had to push a few weddings back.

“Everything for end of March, April, May is postponed to later in the year and until next year. We have moved from six weddings per month to zero,” she said.

Wedding planner Dionne Waugh, of Bridal Dreams, told THE WEEKEND STAR that it might take a while for the wedding industry to be back in good shape, especially for those who specialise in destination weddings.

“Maybe not until 2021 before destination weddings will rebound. Remember, we are still in the midst of the virus, and we don’t know how far it will escalate. I think it’s going take a while for persons to rebuild their confidence before wanting to leave their country,” she said.


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