Edmonton wedding industry sees end-of-season bump

While many couples are still waiting for sunny days in 2021, some in the local wedding industry have seen a late-summer bump in weddings as others adapt to the new normal.

Some adjust to new normal following season of delayed ceremonies

Streaming has been a common sight at recent wedding ceremonies. (Submitted by Sandra Bettina Weddings & Events)

The summer months are often a time for couples to tie the knot, surrounded by friends and family. 

But as the pandemic first struck Alberta right at the start of spring, many decided to postpone their ceremonies for some distant post-coronavirus future.

While many couples are still waiting for sunny days in 2021, some in the local wedding industry have seen a late-summer bump in weddings as others adapt to the new normal.

"[We] had a slower start than what we normally see, that's for sure, and then it just kind of got busy very quickly," Sandra Cassios, owner and lead planner of Sandra Bettina Weddings and Events, said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

Cassios said as time went on it became apparent that the pandemic would not be going away any time soon.

"That's really when couples sat down and decided to … switch gears and to still make it happen this year," she said.

Restrictions were also in flux in the spring, creating uncertainty around how to plan a wedding in keeping with public health orders.

"But now we know what our restrictions are, couples are wanting to get married still and to sort of plan a lot of smaller weddings this year," Cassios said.

Wedding planner Jennifer Bergman said business is nowhere near what it would normally be. She estimates that about 90 per cent of her bookings have postponed until 2021. 

However, there has been a small uptick since late August with couples opting for smaller, more personal affairs.

"It just feels more comfortable and a bit safer," Bergman said.

A physically-distanced parking lot party for congratulations from friends and family were part of this wedding plan. (Elaine Green Photography)

Most have been outdoors, mostly on private property, at lake getaways or even in backyards, she said. 

Safety measures have included arranging tables by cohort, making hand sanitizer readily available, and offering individual pre-packaged food rather than the typical buffet.

New normal, new service

John Takla is the owner of Edmonton-based Talent Productions. While traditionally his business offered DJ services and decorative touches like dance-floor wraps, indoor sparklers, dry ice and lighting, the pandemic has forced him to adapt.

"We definitely had to diversify our services essentially as soon as the 15-person limit came in," he said.

In March, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw ordered a 15-person limit for public gatherings.

Takla immediately set to work creating a new streaming service.

"We're going to come to your backyard, we're going to bring you the 15 chairs for all your guests," Takla said of the pitch. "We're going to DJ your events, we're going to stream it and we're going to record it for you guys so that everything is taken care of."

Summer 2021? 'Absolutely insane'

That business momentum has only grown, he said, especially with the second phase of Alberta's relaunch and an expansion of numbers allowing for gatherings of up to 50 people.

Takla said the bookings are still coming in.

"We are getting — also this is very weird — but we're getting kind of last-minute wedding requests here," he said.

Still, Takla shares the common message that business will be much lower this year than has been typical.

But there's a busy time on the horizon: Takla said 2021 is likely to be a record-breaking year for his business.

It's a prospect Cassios also subscribes to. She said she's heard many will not postpone again should the pandemic drag into next year.

"Our next summer is absolutely insane," she said. "We are really trying to squeeze almost two seasons into one."