The wedding industry is changing.

Coronavirus halted it.

So wedding planners are transforming their roles to save their business, and two Tampa Bay area event planners are on the cusp of that transformation.

Maria Parrilla spoke with Spectrum Bay News 9 from the wedding ceremony seats at Crystal Ballroom Tampa

Behind her, an Insanely Instagram-able archway of white flowers and crystal embellishments stood with mirrored candleholders. It’s an all-in-one venue with tall hanging white curtains and blingy chandeliers.

The ballroom is one of the vendors Parilla and her partner Cecilia Claudio have worked with since starting Elegant Evening Events in late 2017.

“It was there we learned about “Mini-moons.”

It’s the rehearsal, ceremony and celebration in one spot – like a beach house – for the weekend.

And it’s the new way have safer, smaller celebrations.

Smaller events and day-of wedding coordinating are a couple of the ways Parilla and Claudio are making up for this year’s larger events being shuttered by the Coronavirus.

And they haven’t lost any brides from 2020 as they have worked to reschedule and reimagine nuptials during Life in the Time of Coronavirus.

These women aren’t terribly afraid of the economic uncertainty they face. They believe they can find a way to be successful.

That’s because of what they have been through.

First – Maria is a veteran.

She served eight years with the Florida Army National Guard and was deployed to Kuwait for a year.

“With my background in the military, were taught to stay calm in stressful situations. And being in the wedding industry as a wedding planner, there's a lot of stress everywhere – dresses flying, bridesmaids yelling, you name it,” Parrilla said. “There's chaos everywhere. So you have to be calm in the storm.”

Second – they are veterans of Hurricane Maria.

Claudio had planned a quick girl’s weekend to Puerto Rico with Parrilla in September of 2017. She wanted to check on her parents after Hurricane Irma hit the island, and Parilla had never been on a proper vacation.

But it turned into a struggle to survive Category 5 Hurricane Maria and its catastrophic aftermath.

It took them three days to find a way to one of Claudio’s stranded grandmothers on the island. And it was a week and a half before either of the women were able to contact their spouses and family off the island.  

“So this pandemic is serious, but I know that we can make it because we made it through Hurricane Maria,” said Claudio.

“At the end of the day, we're friends before business, and we can always count on each other,” Parrilla said. “And I love that.”

Over the last few months, Virginia Johnson has taken you all over the Tampa Bay area to see how folks are dealing with Life in The Time of Coronavirus.

To watch her previous stories, visit here.