Jonathan Wiegratz said his wedding band hasn't played a gig since January.
"It was a rager, a really awesome party," Wiegratz said. "That makes it even more painful. If we had know that it was going to be our last wedding? Unfathomable might be the best way to put it. Really tough to think about."
Wiegratz is a drummer and the founder of Boston Common Band. Despite the name, it's not just a band. It’s a company that provides live music and DJ's for more than 100 weddings a year. But since the pandemic hit and couples started to postpone their nuptials, Wiegratz said business has fallen flat.
"We were hoping we'd be out of this maybe in six weeks, and here we are four months later," he said. "It's looking like this year might be an entire loss."
Wiegratz has a corporate job that’s keeping him afloat personally, and he said that state and federal unemployment assistance are helping his musicians get by, for now. But he is frustrated that some industries are seeing their restrictions eased while his is still on standby.
"It's tough for me to think through the reasoning why I can sit down and play blackjack at the casino, but I can't be on a dance floor at a wedding," he said.
Late spring and early summer usually mark the peak of wedding season. Not so this year — the pandemic has brought the wedding industry to a standstill, leaving industry professionals like Wiegratz without work and couples having to cancel or postpone their weddings.
Casinos, gyms, and other establishments will be able to conducted limited business in Phase 3 of the Baker administration’s reopening plan, which could start as soon as next week. State guidelines say large gatherings of “moderate capacity” — like weddings — will be allowed, too, but only outside in parks and other open spaces. Big weddings at booked venues that Wiegratz typically plays at are off-limits until Phase 4, which the state won’t begin until a vaccine or coronavirus treatments become available.
That's left wedding planners like Patty Fratto frustrated. Fratto said the state's communication with the wedding industry has been lacking.
"We've pursued every avenue that we can in terms of reaching out to the governor's office and state and local reps," Fratto said. "We're essentially begging for information that we can share with our couples, and we just are not getting it."
Fratto is the sole employee of her own company, Perfectly Coorindated. She said cancellations and postponements have forced her and her peers to ask tough questions of themselves.
"Will I even survive this pandemic?" Fratto said. "It's not a hobby for me. It's not a side gig. It's my job. To not have that income is a huge hit."
It’s not just those who work in the wedding industry who are feeling the strain.
Allie Hagerty and her fiancé, who live in Hingham, were supposed to get married this past weekend. But back in March, as the scope of the crisis became clear, they knew they had a decision to make: either scrap their venue and shrink their wedding to comply with state rules, or postpone their big day altogether. They chose to reschedule.
"We are not going to have a 10-person wedding, not going to put family in danger," Hagerty said. "I think the most important thing about a wedding day is who's there, because everyone there is shaping your life in some way or another."
Hagerty and her fiancé are now on track to get married next June. Their venue and all but one of their vendors were able to reschedule. She said she's grateful to those vendors, and sympathetic to the tough position they're in.
"All of our vendors own their own businesses," Hagerty said. "That's amazing and empowering, but it's also really scary for them."
Hagerty said she's at peace with her wedding's postponement. With the way the past few months have played out, it's her honeymoon she'll miss the most.
"I really just wanted to go on vacation soon," she said. "That's definitely not happening, but that's okay."
Fratto said that if she and others in the wedding industry can make it through the pandemic, she's confident their services will still be in demand.
"I still think they are still going to be a big social event where people celebrate, get loved ones together, have food, music, dancing," Fratto said. "I just don't see that changing permanently."
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Jonathan Wiegratz's surname.