PEI

Another challenging summer ahead for P.E.I. wedding industry

Many couples who planned to marry on the Island in 2020 postponed their weddings, but those who work in the wedding industry say some are still hesitant to book for this summer.

‘Who is going to pay money for a DJ if they can't dance?’

2020 was a much quieter wedding season than normal on P.E.I., though some couples chose to tie the knot in a smaller way, including Kay Pitre Beach and Barry Beach, pictured here in front of the Confederation Bridge. (Anita Marie Photography)

For people who make their living off weddings on P.E.I., summer 2021 is looking uncertain. 

Many couples who planned to marry on the Island in 2020 postponed their weddings, but those who work in the wedding industry say some are still hesitant to book for this summer, given the pandemic gathering limits and travel restrictions still in place. 

"A lot of our clients have plans A, B, C, through D. So with most of my couples, what we talk about is like their minimum gathering. What's worth it to them to have? Who needs to be there for it to make sense?" said Kristina Allen, a wedding planner who owns Elysian Weddings and Events. 

Wedding planner Kristina Allen says given the changing rules around gatherings on P.E.I., her work now often takes more time, but she gets paid the same amount or less. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Allen said she has a number of weddings scheduled for this summer, but they are smaller events that will earn her less money. 

"I'm looking at elopements or mini-weddings, versus full weddings. So where normally my team would be there for a 12- or 14-hour day, now we're looking at a two- or three-hour package," said Allen.

"It's a lot more work, often for the same or less money."

Thank God I have a second job, because if this was my main income I'd be in trouble.- Tyler Jeffery, owner of Tyler's DJ Service

Right now, wedding ceremonies on P.E.I. can have two cohorts of 50 with an approved plan, and indoor receptions are limited to 50 people total. 

Dances are also banned. And partly because of that, DJ Tyler Jeffery, owner of Tyler's DJ Service, is feeling the pinch for the upcoming season. 

"It's really taken a big hit on me, because who is going to pay money for a DJ if they can't dance?" said Jeffery. 

DJ Tyler Jeffery says he has bookings for this summer, but he expects some to be cancelled or postponed, depending on how COVID-19 restrictions change. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

He estimates that 85 per cent of his summer bookings are usually weddings. And this year, his calendar looks very different. 

"Now they're starting to book into 2022 … we're kind of in a standstill, people are just kind of holding on," said Jeffery.  

"Thank God I have a second job, because if this was my main income I'd be in trouble." 

'Extremely challenging to plan'

Over at Caseley's Tent and Party Rentals, general manager Jamie Caseley is hoping for a better season ahead than they had in 2020. 

"It's extremely challenging to plan right now, and we hear that from our customers on a daily basis," said Caseley.  

Jamie Caseley, general manager of Caseley's Tent and Party Rentals, says many of his clients have a guest list for 50 people, and also a backup guest list for 75 and 100 people. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Caseley said his company has been in touch with the Chief Public Health Office about when restrictions may be able to change. 

"We've tried to be patient up to this point. But we're really into a period where we need to start having some answers," he said. 

"We really need some type of a plan. And it doesn't have to be a firm date. What we're looking for, as an industry, is what can it look like if everything continues to go positive?"

More from CBC P.E.I. 

With files from Steve Bruce

now