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Wedding Season In Connecticut Now A Coronavirus Casualty

wedding postponed coronavirus
Jessica DeStefano
This photo of Christina Luke (left) and Marc Ciarleglio was taken during a coronavirus-themed "save the date" photo shoot. The couple postponed their wedding from June 2020 to July 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With wedding season 2020 happening amid a global pandemic, Connecticut’s engaged couples are facing unforeseen challenges.

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The spread of coronavirus has caused a rash of wedding cancellations and postponements. But as couples work to change wedding dates, they’re dealing with resistance from their venues.

Marc Ciarleglio and fiancée Christina Luke were due to be married in June, but they decided to push the wedding back.

“I was stressed,” Ciarleglio said. “I didn’t want to move it.”

Ciarleglio, who’s from East Haven, and Luke, from Northford, called their venue after Gov. Ned Lamont hinted that large gatherings would not take place for months.

“Everything was going smooth -- they said they had some options available,” Ciarleglio said. “It wouldn’t be an issue to move it within 2020, and I said, ‘Not for nothing, I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to get married in 2020, so I’d like to try and push it to next year.’”

Ciarleglio said he was told it would cost more to have the wedding next year because of a $17 per-plate up-charge, which he said would total $6,000.

It frustrated him so much that he took to social media to express himself -- a post he’s since taken down.

“It just exploded like wildfire: By the morning it had 200 shares, by later that afternoon it was almost at like 1,000 shares,” Ciarleglio said.

Credit Jessica DeStefano
During a coronavirus-themed "save the date" photo shoot, Christina Luke (left) of Northford, Conn., and Marc Ciarleglio of East Haven practice social distancing. The couple are now scheduled to marry on July 17, 2021.

What followed, according to Ciarleglio, was a willingness by the owner of Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven to work with the couple.

“He was a lot more understanding, a lot more compassionate,” Ciarleglio said.

Management at Anthony’s Ocean View didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.

“I didn’t have anything bad to say about the venue at all. I can’t even speak -- I didn’t have my wedding there yet, so I can’t speak on that,” Ciarleglio said. “I can speak on the fact that this shouldn’t have happened, and it shouldn’t continue to happen to anyone.”

Ciarleglio and his fiancée aren’t alone.

The office of Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has received multiple calls from engaged couples about unreasonable cancellation fees and refund refusals. In one complaint, a couple said they were charged a $7,500 cancellation fee by a Connecticut wedding venue. 

“If you feel like you’re not getting calls returned or emails returned or you’re being treated poorly,” Tong said, “you can definitely call the Office of the Attorney General or the Department of Consumer Protection. There are things that we can do to make sure that under Connecticut law that you get treated fairly.”

In cases of unfair practices, Tong’s office is taking complaints related to COVID-19’s impact on couples’ wedding dates via an online form.

He’s also encouraging couples to continue working with the venues toward a settlement.

“Most wedding venues are owned and operated by people who run facilities in their own towns and communities -- they’re under tremendous pressure -- so do what you can to work something out and go by the language of your contract,” Tong said.

While the state might not be able to help all couples, Tong said money has been recovered for some, not just for weddings, but also for travel-related issues.

Ciarleglio and his fiancée will have been engaged four years before they finally get married on July 17, 2021. They’re sending out a coronavirus-themed “save the date” notice.

In one recent photo of the couple, they are shown standing in front of a giant “Postponed” banner -- with a six-pack of Corona Light and a 24-pack of toilet paper.

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