ROME, Italy | XINHUA | Ilaria Cappuccioni was so enthusiastic about marrying her boyfriend, Sonny Casimirri, that she was the one to pop the question. The couple was originally scheduled to be married next week, but as Italy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic they decided to delay the ceremony until next year.
“We are excited to get married but it just seemed to make the most sense to wait, both in terms of the event itself and for the health and safety of our friends and family members,” the 32-year-old Cappuccioni told Xinhua.
Casimirri, 33, agreed: “We held out hope and waited as long as we could to make a decision but we felt we didn’t have a choice,” he said in an interview.
The decision from Cappuccioni and Casimirri, who live in Val d’Arno, just outside the central Italian city of Florence, is being repeated all over Italy, and it’s understandable. There are no real-time national statistics on weddings, but all indications are that they have slowed to a trickle.
Until recently, rules prohibited travel between Italian regions or from outside Italy. Even now, wedding guests would be required to wear masks and stay at least two meters (6.6 feet) from each other. Food buffets, a mainstay at Italian weddings, are still outlawed.
But the trend is also putting the 10-billion-euro (11-billion-U.S. dollar) wedding industry and all the smaller busunesses that depend on it — caterers, planners, restaurants, flower sellers — in a crisis.
“Even as some restrictions related to the coronavirus are being lifted, weeks of lockdown and all the news from the outbreak have left a psychological mark,” Alice Figaroli from ProntoPro, an entity that monitors trends in the services industry in Italy, told Xinhua. “It’s hard for many couples to plan what should be one of the happiest days of their lives during such a challenging period.”
The government has included some incentives for marriages in its recovery plans. The biggest one will provide tax credits covering a quarter of the expenses of a marriage ceremony, with a cap of 25,000 euros. But the incentive only kicks in for marriages that take place after Jan. 1, 2021, sparking complaints that it is creating yet another reason for couples to put off their plans.
Illaria Messa and Mattia Biffi, from Milan, said the tax incentives did not play a part in their decision to delay their marriage, which had been scheduled for September. But the fact that their city was hit hard by the coronavirus was a significant factor.
“Things might look better in terms of the outbreak by the time September comes around, but we didn’t want to feel anxiety about the marriage,” Messa, 36, said in an interview. “We wanted to avoid putting wedding guests in difficult situations.”
Biff, 34, said that the idea of a marriage ceremony under the current situation was uninteresting. “We didn’t want to think back on our wedding and remember gloves and masks and plexiglass,” he said.
Anna Maria Pirozzi, 40, and Antonio Costa, 39, are among just a handful of couples who still plan to get married this year. Based in the Castelli Romani, just outside Rome, they said familial circumstances were behind their decision to stick with their September wedding date.
“We have been together for more than ten years and we have two kids, but our parents have always said they wanted us to be married, and now my mother and Antonio’s father are both in poor health, we decided the time was right,” Pirozzi told Xinhua. “We are looking forward to the wedding date as a reason to celebrate. Everyone involved is excited.”
But Costa, a medical worker who had worked on 28 days in a 30-day period during the coronavirus crisis, said that the couple has downsized their plans a little.
“Our financial situation is more fragile now and so our plans are a little more low-key,” Costa said in an interview. “We’re just inviting family and close friends. The circumstances aren’t perfect but I always try to be optimistic and so I tell people we will be among a minority of Italians who will remember 2020 for something besides the coronavirus pandemic.”