REGION — Local wedding industry businesses have essentially come to a halt as engaged couples postpone their special date to a hopeful next year. Area venue owners are trying to promote the trending term, micro or macro wedding, which consists of an intimate ceremony of 50 people or less. 

“I know this whole macro wedding has kind of been something that I’ve seen a lot of people and photographers in particular promoting,” Farmington-based wedding photographer Holly Kangas said in a phone interview. “So it’s more like people who still want to get married doing something very small and cutting down the coverage.”

Despite trying to promote a close-knit wedding, Maine CDC’s gathering restrictions of no more than five people per 1,000 square feet in public and community buildings continues to complicate options for couples. 

The 49 Franklin event venue in Rumford typically hosts 10 to 15 weddings throughout a summer, but all of their ceremonies have been postponed due to the state’s CDC gathering restrictions. Owner Scot Grassette said they are open to hosting micro weddings this season. Photo Courtesy of Scot Grassette

“We can fit 20 people including employees and everyone else so we thought about doing a micro wedding, and we still may if someone approaches us on it,” owner of event venue 49 Franklin, in Rumford, Scot Grassette said in a phone interview. 

49 Franklin does on average 10 to 15 weddings per summer, but all of Grassette’s bookings have been postponed until 2021. The venue is not set up for outside catering which further complicates the possibility of a micro wedding. 

“I don’t know if people would even want to come to something like that inside. And of course, there’s no dancing and there’s no congregating. We can’t even put out a cheese and cracker table where people go and congregate around the table,” Grassette said. “Everything would need to be served to the extent of the guidelines to make it feasible for us to pull something off.”

The square footage restriction also impacts Grassette’s other on premise business, the Mystic Theater where comedy shows and musical performances take place. Guests must remain 14 feet from the stage which narrows the theater’s capacity to ten people including employees and performers.

Grassette still has his job at the Rumford Mill which he says is getting them through, but for Kangas, photography is her full time job with weddings making up a significant portion of her business.

“It’s definitely been, I don’t know if traumatic would be too dramatic of a word, but it’s pretty close to that,” Kangas said.

Stacey Vorous, owner of Mountain Star Estate in Rangeley, thinks that the square footage of her expansive venue actually detracts people who are interested in micro ceremonies. 

“We’ve tried to get creative and offer smaller weddings or gatherings or just a small ceremony and reunion, and brides just want these big, epic weddings at our place because that’s kind of what we built it for,” Vorous said in a phone interview.

The Mountain Star Estate includes a barn that can hold up to 200 people that Vorous’ husband and son built from salvaged materials and a guesthouse that holds up to 40 guests.

“We took six years to build the place and all of our blood, sweat, tears and money,” Vorous said.

The Mountain Star Estate in Rangeley includes a barn for ceremonies that can hold up to 200 people. Owner Stacey Vorous thinks the grand-scale of the barn keeps people from wanting a micro ceremony at her venue. Photo Courtesy of Stacey Vorous

The majority of Mountain Star Estate’s business comes from out of staters with only 30% of Vorous’ couples from Maine. The 14-day quarantine for most out of state residents makes a ceremony in Maine an expensive destination wedding. 

“For us, it’s more than just a party, it’s a whole weekend of events and gathering and time together. It’s a destination wedding place, so it’s a little different,” Vorous said.

All but one of Mountain Star Estate’s weddings have been postponed until next year which as Vorous pointed out, may pose a backlog of problems. Venues may be able to reschedule this year’s ceremonies, but caterers, photographers and florists may already have dates booked out.

“Graduates and brides, my heart goes out to people. This was supposed to be the biggest, most celebrated time of their life and it all went away and that’s a hard thing to put off for a year,” Vorous said. “You’re excited to get married. That’s a tough one to put on the shelf for a year, I think. I would have a hard time with it.”

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