Local wedding industry shifts into high gear as pandemic restrictions end | Local News

Michael Allen and his wife, Karen, had no plans to host a one-year anniversary reception, but when the COVID-19 lockdown closed their venue last year, they didn’t. had little choice.

“It was a nightmare,” Allen said of the ever-changing restrictions in early 2020.

Ahead of their big day, the couple received constant calls to find out if the wedding was taking place and where it would be.

“We were so worried,” Allen said. “It was so stressful. We weren’t sure if we should go ahead, we weren’t sure if we could keep going at that point.

Ultimately, the couple exchanged vows on June 13, 2020, with the number of guests capped at 100. They had a small reception at a park in Elk River.

On June 5 of this year, they will host a larger reception at the Courtyards of Andover to preserve the deposit they made over a year ago.

Their story is not unique.

A survey of more than 7,600 American couples by wedding website The Knot found that almost half of those planning to marry between March and December of last year had postponed their receptions until at least 2021. Of those polled, 32% got married legally in 2020 but delayed the reception and 15% postponed the wedding.

Now, with the vaccine rollout and the pandemic restrictions lifted, the wedding industry is booming, and local venues and vendors book fast, as couples reschedule celebrations they postponed.

“I get calls like crazy,” Coon Rapids DJ Scott Rousseau said. “The calendar is filling up. … we’re all busy because you get two years of weddings booked in one.

Rousseau estimates that his activity at Weddings With Scott fell by 80% last year. Most of the weddings on her schedule have been postponed.

As a sole proprietor who owns his equipment and operates with little overhead, Rousseau weathered the storm, but said many full-time DJs weren’t so lucky and went bankrupt. He suspects that’s another reason he’s getting so many calls this year.

The high volume of weddings could end up affecting the prices that couples pay. Rousseau said many DJs and other wedding professionals won’t need to offer discounts to attract clients.

“People are going to pay a premium this year because time and space are limited,” he said.

Couples are also less picky about planning their celebrations.

In a typical year, wedding and event specialist Amanda Twait, of Unique Dining Catering in Andover Courts, hosts the most weddings between May and October, and they almost always take place on Saturdays. This year, to welcome people who have pushed back their big day into 2020, it has weddings scheduled on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays – and even a Monday.

“People are definitely more flexible on dates,” she says.

One trend Twait noticed was that many couples got married last year, on a much smaller scale, but decided to have a larger reception this year – either as an anniversary or just to celebrate with loved ones. .

The Styled Stems flower shop and boutique in Blaine has also seen a dramatic increase in its bridal business this year. Leah Schmidt, who co-owns the store with her mother, Sheri Mallon, said she had gone from 10 bookings in 2020 to almost 60 by early May this year.

To accommodate small weddings subject to COVID-19 restrictions, Styled Stems offered a “small package” last year, as well as a split-order option, where the boutique would provide flower arrangements for the wedding ceremony in 2020 and reception in 2021. Nonetheless, two-thirds of the boutique’s 30 initial reservations last year were canceled or postponed.

While business is rebounding this year, it is overtaking a typical year for Schmidt.

Before opening her Blaine storefront last September, Schmidt worked for 20 years as a home florist. Before the pandemic, she normally had 40 wedding reservations a year. While the new showcase may contribute to the 2021 increase, she said the change was mainly due to couples delaying their weddings or receptions.

Compressed deadlines, persistent hesitation

While more and more brides and grooms are comfortable moving forward with wedding plans this year, many of them operate on a compressed schedule, and some remain cautious.

Rousseau said a couple booked him in late April as a DJ for a July 10 wedding, which he called “unheard of” in his industry.

Despite the influx of business, his September and October hours were more open than usual, but he expects them to fill up.

“It’s a bit of a mad rush, and people are jostling each other a bit,” he said.

But some couples are very careful.

Sarah Filipi, of Blaine-based Sarah Grace Photography, said she’s chatted with several couples who are planning for up to three years so they don’t have to worry about the restrictions. Even as the state lifts virtually all pandemic restrictions in May, Filipi said it was difficult to plan too far because no one can predict what will happen next.

Dan Adler, manager of the nonprofit Heart of the City Music Factory in Anoka, echoed that thought.

Its small hall mainly hosts concerts, but it is also available for weddings and other events. With a capacity of 137 people under normal circumstances, it has been hit harder by the capacity restrictions than larger venues that can still accommodate hundreds of guests.

Adler hasn’t seen event bookings bounce back so quickly.

“What I think we have constantly seen is that there has been a lot of hesitation,” he said on May 13.

With the announcement that Gov. Tim Walz will lift most pandemic restrictions by the end of the month, some of that hesitation may evaporate. Adler was delighted with the announcement but “was almost afraid to hope” as it is impossible to predict if things will turn for the worse. But he will take advantage of the reprieve.

“We’re open for business and we’re happy to book people,” Adler said.

All indoor venue capacity limits will be lifted on May 28. For a large part of the population, this alone is cause for celebration.

“It will be a fun summer,” Rousseau said. “There are going to be a lot of celebrations going on. People want to go out, be with family and friends. “

About John McTaggart

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