After nearly two years of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and events, wedding planners are starting to see business pick up once again.
The wedding industry was a hard hit during the pandemic. Wedding planners, florists and venue organizers had to conform to strict restrictions on capacity, spacing and masking, which stripped the ceremonies of fanfare and celebration.
In June 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment restricted wedding ceremonies and other events to 50% capacity, capping the total number of attendees at 50 people. However, receptions were under stricter regulations, limiting the number of people based on a space calculator for indoor and outdoor events.
Many 2020 couples found themselves rethinking the parties altogether and postponing them until large events felt safer. Others opted for smaller gatherings with fewer than 10 people. It was a stressful time for those in the business, especially those who make their living off destination weddings in Summit County.
In 2022, all of that changed.
“2022 is a banana,” said Elizabeth Long, owner of Distinctive Mountain Events in Breckenridge. “It’s insane. People are ready to party. ”
Long said she’s experiencing a record-breaking year, with couples wanting bigger, more elaborate celebrations, and she’s not the only wedding planner benefiting from the uptick in business.
Kayle Burns, who owns Petal and Bean, said her floral arrangement and event planning business in Breckenridge is fully booked from Memorial Day through Labor Day, marking a return to a pre-pandemic level.
Both Burns and Long noticed a big difference in the number of people who plan to attend Summit County weddings.
“People haven’t done things in so long, so they’re finally ready to get out and travel and do events,” Burns said.
Long said she’s seeing “yes rates” hover around 80% to 90%, when they were normally around 60% to 70% during the pandemic.
The wedding planners have also been hosting larger weddings, with some as large as 200-250 people. Couples are opting in for more space, more flowers and more food after staying at home for so long.
Many of the couples who postponed their wedding in 2020 because of the pandemic got married in 2021, Burns and Long said. However, those weddings were still affected by COVID-19 since the delta and omicron variants soared and restrictions remained in place.
“For 2021 summer, (the pandemic) was definitely on everybody’s minds still,” Long said. “It was lurking. It was something that was still there. ”
While 2022 may be without restrictions, the pandemic does remain a concern for some couples. Long said she’s seen a trend of couples opting for larger dance spaces, which wasn’t as common prior to the pandemic.
The planners have also seen a move toward using online services to handle save the dates, invites and other communications with guests. But without restrictions, the planners are feeling more confident than they have in the past two years regarding demand for goods and services.
“Even in 2021, we had to talk about restrictions, and we’re no longer talking about that,” Burns said. “Things are as normal as they can be.”