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Cleveland couple left without wedding venue due to COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 23:27:01-04

CLEVELAND — Rashaunda Palmer and Larese Purnell are just 90 days away from their dream wedding.

“We had our people locking in our rooms,” Palmer said. “We were down to just ordering the cake, pretty much just the small details.”

The problem? They still don’t have a venue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial stressors businesses have been presented with.

“I never even knew that I was getting engaged,” Palmer said.

The old adage goes, “Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.”

Planning the couple’s June 2021 wedding has come with its fair share of blues, starting with their original wedding venue closing its doors due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

“We rolled by and we noticed it was closed,” Purnell said.

Purnell and Palmer said they spent more than $10 thousand on an up-front deposit.

“I fell in love with this place and that was just it,” Palmer said. “That's the only place I wanted to have it and then it closed its doors.”

Professor Michael Goldberg is an economic expert at Case Western Reserve University and said couples should consider the hardships businesses are facing before saying “I do” to a particular venue.

“Ask that venue to give them names of folks that have worked with them before, even perhaps during the pandemic when times have been particularly challenging,” Goldberg said. “There is that danger that although things are getting better, that many of these small business owners have really gone out on a limb to sort of keep themselves afloat during this time.”

With just three months until the couple’s dream wedding and two venue choices down, they remain in good spirits.

“Rashaunda is excited. This is her big day. I mean, every young girl or woman dreams of this day,” Purnell said. “A third one, we'll just have to rent out a block and do it on the street. Have a street party.”

While the planning process hasn’t been a fairy tale, Purnell and Palmer understand the financial struggles businesses are facing and want others planning large events to be aware of the uncertainty they may face and the dangers of a large up-front deposit.

“We want everybody to be conscious as you plan your wedding,” Purnell said. “It's not what it was a year ago. Even a year and a half ago.”