RI wedding vendor: ‘It feels as though we have been overlooked’ during pandemic

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I.(WPRI) ─ May is one of the busiest seasons for Rhode Island wedding vendors, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, many are now struggling to survive.

Makeup artist Allison Barbera tells Eyewitness News that, because her career is solely based on events, the pandemic has practically put her out of work.

“It does feel as though we have been overlooked,” Barbera said. “There has been a lot of mention of helping couples reschedule their weddings, and that’s great and there should be a focus on them, but there hasn’t been much talk about what is this doing to the wedding industry and vendors where this is their livelihood.”

Barbera decided to create a group of event vendors, including florists, event planners and photographers, on Facebook, so those in her profession could band together during these unprecedented times.

The group, called the Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors, has nearly 500 members.

Barbera said the group wrote a collective letter to all state representatives and Governor Gina Raimondo, pleading for help.

“I’ve been able to get some unemployment, but I applied for [the Paycheck Protection Loan], I am waiting on that,” Barbera said.

The wedding industry, according to Barbera, contributes to the state’s revenue, but most people are independent contractors or seasonal workers – leaving them fighting for approval for financial assistance.

“The problem with PPP is that once you get the loan, you have eight weeks to spend it – 75% has to be spent on payroll, the other 25% can be spent on mortgages and things like it, but if I received a loan today for eight weeks from now, I don’t have a payroll because we don’t have weddings,” Barbera explained.

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