Backlog of postponed weddings is making for a busy 2022 season
N.B. couples who'd postponed weddings hope to marry this summer, even if on a Thursday
Alicia Yvonne is hoping that this summer, she'll finally be able to get married.
The Fredericton woman got engaged to Alex Pate in 2019, and they planned to marry in August 2020. Because of COVID-19 rules for gatherings and travel, they decided to wait a year so they could celebrate with family and friends from out of province.
"And we figured there's no way by 2021 that we won't be able to have our wedding," Yvonne said. "And 2021 came, and we still were in restrictions and our venue was still at 50 per cent capacity."
Now, they're planning for this June.
"We're hoping third time is going to be the charm," said Yvonne, who also reserved a spot in 2023 just in case.
She and Pate are among many couples New Brunswick who delayed their weddings until pandemic restrictions lifted, allowing them to have the event they want.
And with COVID-19 restrictions lifted as of today, the summer of 2022 is shaping up to be one of the busiest the industry can remember.
"People are noticing the end of all the mandates and COVID," says Palmer Dennison, a planner and decorator who owns Palmer Events in Saint John. "And maybe they're thinking it's time to put a ring on it because the end is in sight.
"But then again, I know a lot of clients who have been engaged since 2019, and they're choosing to do their weddings this year."
Desiree McGuire has been engaged since March 2020, and because of the uncertainty at the time, she and her fiancé had always planned to marry this August.
"I'm really thankful that we did, because even though some weddings did get to happen last summer, I know with the restrictions they were on and off," she says.
Even so, McGuire said, the planning was frustrating.
"I think I went through six different photographers before I found somebody with a date because so many dates were being pushed because of the pandemic … I think the difference between planning now versus planning a wedding even 10 years ago is you really have to be on top of your game because the pandemic has pushed everything."
Everything from venues to photographers to caterers, even, as Yvonne discovered, seamstresses, are nearly booked solid.
"I have a local seamstress here in Fredericton, Nobility Clothing Designs, who is going to be altering my dress," she said. "And I called her months and months ago to book my alterations for the month of the wedding, and she was already getting filled up for the summer."
Many couples are finding they have to adjust what they want, said wedding planner Jennifer Rose, who owns and operates Exclusive Events in the Fredericton area.
"I even have some clients that are booking Thursday weddings or Sunday weddings just in order to be able to get the vendors that they want."
Rose said that since the announcement that restrictions would be lifted, it has been difficult to keep up with inquiries from couples wanting to plan their wedding.
Not only off-day but even off-season weddings are starting to happen because of the backlog.
"We are seeing more weddings in May and we're seeing weddings in October and November now and December, which is good," said Janice Bates, who owns and operates Bates Barn in Long Point overlooking the Belleisle Bay and a place used as a wedding venue.
Most couples marry between June and Thanksgiving, but that tradition hasn't held up during the pandemic.
"And in 2021, it was amazing how many weddings were held during the week, on a Wednesday or Thursday," said Bates.
She said eager couples are booking her barn without seeing it, which never happened in the past.
"I've done video tours with them or they've just looked at the photos and stuff and looked at the reviews, and they're just booking sight unseen," she says.
But the pace is a welcome change for Bates, who said 2020 was a difficult year in the industry.
"It was awful because we went from 20-some weddings to — we basically had five."
With those postponed weddings getting rebooked, venues are working to keep up with the demand.
Bates said she has some weekends this summer with three weddings.
The restaurant venue at the West Hills Golf Club in Fredericton is still under construction, but it's already taking bookings. Jess Hill, administration and special event manager, said there are already a handful of weddings happening there this summer.
"And then I have a few booked for 2023 as well … but we're not even open, so I'm doing site tours and construction phases and showing it to brides, and they're booking."
Hill said the venue should be open by May, and the majority of bookings for this summer are by couples who have put their wedding off during the pandemic. Some couples are booking into 2023 in case restrictions come back.
Planners and vendors alike said it's a stressful time for brides and grooms who want to finally walk down the aisle.
"I think brides and grooms are possibly going to have to maybe change what they thought their dream wedding would look like," said Nancy Curtis, author of Get Wedding Ready: 6 Simple Steps to Get You Down the Aisle & Keep You Sane.
Curtis suggested couples may want to simplify their plans.
"Nothing says you can't dream big, but you just may have to look at how we're going to accomplish that in a different way and be open to change because the world has changed, and it's not going to go back to the way it was."