Wedding bells are gonna chime...just not in May

By Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
April 8 2020

LISCOMB – The bride and groom met through a friend in 2014 and were in love by 2016. In 2018 Kaitlyn Mitton and Robert McLean romantically got engaged in front of her family on Christmas morning. She said yes to the dress in early 2019 and May 2, 2020 was selected for their wedding day and planning was set into motion. 

Then, in March, there was the coronavirus.

The couple had known immediately Liscombe Lodge on the Eastern Shore was the venue where they wanted their wedding to take place. “Liscombe Lodge was actually the first and only place we looked at. It has all the qualities Rob and I want for our day!” says Mitton. “Karen (Wenaus) is great to work with… she’s very real and down to earth. She’s responded to all of my questions quickly and Karen and her team really take care of a lot of things and so we are thankful there is quite a bit we don’t have to worry about.”

But worry came anyway. Shortly before March break when provinces began to close their schools for an extra two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19, the couple began to wonder. “I think we started to question whether or not it was going to happen in May,” says Mitton.

Mitton and McLean proceeded through a decision-making process with Wenaus, general manager at Liscombe Lodge. “We contacted Karen on March 16th, to discuss a back-up plan. She proposed alternative dates and we made the final call to postpone the wedding to October 24,” Mitton explains. “The makeup artist and photographer were booked all summer long and we initially booked off-season to begin with because we wanted our reception dinner with our 120 guests to take place in the dining room. It is just so stunning! We weren’t willing to give that up.”

Liscombe Lodge, a seasonal business with five months of revenue generation, is owned by the Province of Nova Scotia and operated by Newcastle Hotels. The Lodge is one of the largest seasonal employers on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. For 2020 the business has already lost the month of May and prospects for June are not looking good. Wenaus says, “Every day it is changing. If we only open for three months, will we make enough money to cover the winter bills coming up in 20/21?”

“We have been in contact with all of our 65 staff members to say we are doing all we can to open this year,” says Wenaus, “and will be in contact with staff to let them know what is happening as soon as we know.” In the winter Liscombe Lodge has five full time staff at the lodge and currently this number has not changed.

The Lodge staff are currently on winter unemployment. Wenaus wonders if their claims will be enough until re-opening, whenever that will happen. “If it is not will they be able to flip over to the new unemployment? When they are working is usually when they catch up on all the winter bills that an unemployment cheque could not cover over the winter. When we do open will they have enough hours to collect for the 20/21 winter season,” she wonders.

Mitton and McLean, who live in Beaver Bank, have already purchased flights for their honeymoon that was supposed to take place the beginning of June and those travel plans are no longer a given. “We don’t know if we just do our honeymoon before we get married or wait and see if we can get a travel voucher.”

They have purchased the flower girl dress for their two-year-old daughter, Paisley, but Mitton questions whether that will still fit her in October. “Little kids grow fast!”

All the bookings they had confirmed during the year of planning for their May wedding had to be rebooked to the fall date. “We’ve had to cancel our bachelor and bachelorette parties. All of the hired vendors such as the DJ, photographer and hair and makeup artists have been so understanding during this stressful time. None of them have had a problem changing the date and at no extra cost. Our Justice of the Peace was not available for the new October date but did assist us in booking another JP to perform the ceremony. We are very thankful for them all!”

Wenaus adopted a system for her decision-making for the season. “We are looking at sections of time right now. By March 27 we made the decision that we would not open in May and set a tentative date for June 5. We moved one wedding to October and retreats to the fall and had two groups cancel,” says Wenaus. “We are talking to each group or wedding and working with each individually as again each day things and the timelines change. Some are holding on to closer to the date and some are moving to new dates in this year or next. Very few are cancelling. Soon we will decide about June and can we open for our regular guests and travellers.”

The challenges Wenaus is faced with when rescheduling an entire wedding are the uncertainty and finding a date that will work for them this year or in 2021. As manager she does not consider this to be all in a day’s work. “Every day is a new day and each day is a learning day. Some days are scary as it is important to stay positive, to stay calm, to stay healthy and to stay safe.”

The future bride looks at the big picture and admits the hardest part of this situation is what they did not plan for. “It isn’t even the fact that our wedding date is changed but rather the impact COVID-19 has had on our lives. I think the amount of emotion I’m experiencing myself is largely due to the accumulation of all of the changes happening because of COVID-19,” says Mitton.

“I’m a student at MSVU in the B.Ed program so my classes have been moved to online. I’m not able to go out into my five-week practicum block and I can’t work because I was employed as a sub at a daycare. I’m worried about the health of my daughter and our family and then to add the postponing of our wedding on top and all that it encompasses…it’s just a lot all at once!”

Mitton expresses the range of emotions she and her fiancé have been experiencing throughout the changes to their plans but looks for the silver lining. “To put it simply – it sucks! At the end of the day we know we will get married. That is one thing that isn’t changing. In the meantime we are trying to stay as positive as we can! We’re sad, obviously, but the health and safety of our friends and family is more important. We’re grateful to report that as of now our friends and family are healthy and safe and we hope that when our wedding day does come, we will all be able to celebrate together.”

For the time being, during the stay-at-home order from the provincial government, they are checking out Pinterest for fall wedding décor.