Rachael Moody had only just gotten her feet wet in the world of wedding planning in 2018, and 2020 was supposed to be the year she really got her business, PNW Weddings with Rachael, off the ground.
Then, of course, COVID-19 hit.
“It was a big shock to see my calendar just blow away,” said Moody, 30, who lives in the Orchards area.
The Sandy, Ore., native works a full-time job at Summit Orthopedics to pay the bills, but wedding planning is her dream. However, any full-time wedding planning may be on hold until a vaccine comes. While Clark County remains in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, traditional weddings have basically vanished.
According to state rules, receptions aren’t allowed, and indoor occupancy may only hit 20 percent capacity, or as many as 30 people — whichever is less. In general, gatherings are limited to no more than five people outside of a household per week.
Pre-COVID, Moody had 16 weddings lined up just for the summer season. Now, she’s down to five, only doing four small weddings so far this year. Most couples have postponed, eloped or canceled altogether. The couples who pushed forward with their weddings this summer have had dramatically different weddings because of the need to remain safe. Some have had to reschedule at multiple venues.
Some have even worn masks at their weddings to prevent the virus from spreading, Moody said.
“We usually wear the masks during the event and during meetings,” Moody said. “But I had one bride who just did not want masks. She wasn’t against it but didn’t want the masks there. But people who didn’t want to come didn’t come.”
The Columbian caught up with Moody to learn more.
How has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
I had around 16 weddings scheduled just for summer alone that were anywhere from 125- to 300-person weddings. I’m down to five now. My last one is in October. I was super ready and determined for this summer, but it brought me closer to my couples; I feel part of the family. It just felt good that I had way more time. I was happy to be available for that … and be able to look at the rules for Oregon and Washington. I guess I would say it was kind of a win-loss — a loss in the negativity in not having as many events. These couples had their visions just collapsing. There was good and bad to it. But it’s helped me focus and realize that small, intimate weddings are fun too.
Do you travel for the job?
I have one in North Plains, Ore. The other two weddings this year were in Newberg, Ore. I travel. I’ll go anywhere. I love seeing new venues, so that’s fun. Eventually, I’d love to build my own venue in Washington. I love to see what works and what people don’t like.
What’s your case for hiring a wedding planner?
I really think it’s good to have a coordinator because it’s that go-to person for all your vendors. We’re the point of contact for the vendors arriving when the cake and the flowers get there instead of bugging the bride when it’s her special day. Aunt Sally would be great, but what if she goes out and has too many drinks and can’t help with the timeline? That happens a lot. I want family to have fun and remember it and not be stressed out. Those moments when you see the bride and groom stand there and take a deep breath and soak everything in, that’s the moment that brings me so much joy. I did my job.
WORKING IN CLARK COUNTY
Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Lyndsey Hewitt: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve had to deal with at a wedding?
I was assisting at a wedding last summer and the bride and groom hired their friend as a DJ, and he got really wasted and it’s not something we can say, “Hey, you’re fired. You got to go.” I always encourage couples not to use family friends because things can go wrong. I get they want to help out, but it always ends up badly. I had an incident last summer where one of the groomsmen got completely trashed before the ceremony and so I put him in timeout just because I didn’t want him to drink anymore or pull girls down the aisle. That was the only time I got called a mean coordinator.
So you see a lot of drunk people?
Yes. This year, not really because everyone is social distancing and leaving early, but last summer was a doozy.
Is there anything about the wedding business you think should change?
I definitely think that since a wedding is supposed to be a happy event in a big life moment for someone, I run into quite a few vendors that are kind of unpleasant. So I just would say that if you’re going to be in this business, you have to remember that things happen. If you can’t maneuver around things successfully and confidently and you have that presence that something’s wrong and can’t be fixed, you shouldn’t be in the industry for weddings. I’ve run into people with that attitude and you just feel awful. The vendors need to have confidence always and willing to help with anything.
So, as a wedding planner, are you married?
I’m not married yet. I get people asking that a lot: “How long have you been married?” They’re like, “Oh, how do you do this?” I think the reason why is because I get to plan so many weddings, so I don’t have a vision for my own wedding. So I don’t know. It’s kind of funny, but I don’t want it to impair my business or judgment or for people to think, “Oh she’s never been married, so she doesn’t know what it’s like.” Maybe someday, hopefully after I build my venue, I can get married there. I don’t know what I want, but that’s my plan. We’re not married or engaged; it just hasn’t fallen into my plate. We’re OK.