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'It's devastating' | Wedding industry takes hit amid coronavirus concerns

Kawania Wooten has been planning events for more than 30 years. Now, she's helping brides and other planners navigate cancellations because of the coronavirus.

WASHINGTON — Before the coronavirus outbreak, happy couples were counting down to their big day. Now, those that have Spring weddings planned are in limbo, trying to figure out the next steps. 

For the next two months, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends canceling or postponing all gatherings with 50 people or more in attendance. Unfortunately, that includes weddings. 

Kawania Wooten is a D.C.-area wedding planner for Howerton + Wooten Events. 

She recently had to postpone a large conference with one of her biggest clients. If the CDC recommendations with no gatherings with more than 50 people continue, that wipes out every single wedding Wooten has on the books this year. 

"Right now, that means our first quarter is in the tank. Any revenue that we were expecting at the end of this first quarter, we're not going to get anymore," Wooten said.

The long-time planner has years of experience dealing with events planned during a crisis. That includes everything from earthquakes to the government shutdown. She is now guiding her clients and other planners through the coronavirus outbreak.  

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Even though wedding planners have taken a hit, it's a domino effect for the entire industry. 

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"My concern is not just me. My concern is the dishwasher, the seamstress, the waitstaff, the janitorial staff and the cooks. When our events don't happen these individuals don't get paid," Wooten said. 

Last week, Wooten hosted a virtual conference providing guidance to other wedding planners during this crisis. They discussed everything from contracts, to insurance, to keeping clients calm. 

Wooten recommends brides and grooms who have had to reschedule their weddings take a deep breath and not get caught up in the panic. 

"We're not going to have any weddings before May 16, so then we need to come up with a Plan B," Wooten said.

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